Putting that aside for a moment, there were also a number of people who felt that the money being spent was bad for English football as it was generally spent on overseas players who would take the place of, or block the path of, young English players.
The club who came under the spotlight most for the latter of these two complaints were Chelsea. They spent £50 million on Spanish international Fernando Torres, whilst they sent twenty-one year old English striker Daniel Sturridge on loan to Bolton.
In answer to this criticism Chelsea’s sporting director Frank Arnesen, who has responsibility for the club’s academy, has spoken out,
“The Torres signing is fantastic. Because bringing players in doesn’t close the door for the others. We have to make sure the other boys are good enough when the time is right and that will happen, there is no doubt about it. This will give them inspiration. If you can get Torres in, a European champion, a world champion, one of the best strikers in the world, if he comes to the club everybody is happy.”
Chelsea have often been criticised for spending huge amounts of money on players rather than producing new talent, English or otherwise, through the club’s academy. The facilities that the Chelsea youngsters have are as good as anywhere in the world and their young players are responding. They won last season’s FA Youth Cup.
Earlier in the season Carlo Ancelotti handed a few starts to some of the younger players at the club. Sturridge had a few games and seventeen year old Josh McEachran, together with Patrick van Aanholt, Jeffrey Bruma and Gael Kakuta all featured from time to time.
With results not going so well and older first team players recovering from injury, the youngsters have faded out of the scene. The arrival of Torres has seen Kakuta join Sturridge on loan, this time at Fulham, whilst the big money signing of David Luiz means that chances for Bruma and Van Aanholt will be severely limited. McEachran continues to impress but it is hard to see him edging out Frank Lampard or Michael Essien any time soon.
It is a sad fact that the last player to come from the Chelsea academy and establish a regular place in the first team was John Terry.
The reason for the lack of chances for young players are obvious. Yes, it would be fantastic to use home grown talent, but that takes patience. Nobody in football has patience any more because the financial pressures mean that instant success is demanded. Ancelotti could bring on his young players and nurture and coach and develop them and turn them into a great team. It would mean two or three years without challenging for any trophies. Would the fans put up with that? Would the owner put up with that?
Arnesen makes the above point clearly and eloquently,
“Roman Abramovic always believed in the academy. He has given us time and he has patience. On the other hand, he knows, wants and demands that we have to win. So we will always sign players from outside, I think it is normal. If you want to be top or win trophies you always need to have the best players. If you want young players then you will probably not win a lot of trophies.
“It is down to the philosophy of the club. If the demands are that we don’t need to win trophies, we want to be involved in the Champions League then it is ok, no problem, then use the young players. But if you have other goals like we have, where we try to win everything, every year, then we need the best players.”
Arnesen also said that his academy is doing exactly what was promised. He thinks it is being successful,
“There has been enormous progress. When I came to the club six years ago we had six players from sixteen to twenty who were playing in national teams, now it is only six players not playing.
“Obviously they are now getting older and older and now those players are becoming men and we can see them sniffing around the first team which has been the idea all the time. When I sat down with Roman from the beginning, he said he wanted a five-year plan from 2005 and if we can get a player into the first-team squad he would be very satisfied.
“I said it’s reasonable even with Chelsea being at the highest, highest level that we can do that. Now this summer there were five players coming through into the first-team squad. Obviously we already had Sturridge, he came in at eighteen and he is now twenty-one so he is the oldest of the younger players. We have Gael Kakuta, Patrick van Aanholt, Jeffrey Bruma and Josh McEachran.”
Everything Arnesen says is true but it is a little disappointing that it is highly likely that none of those players will ever become regular Chelsea first team players.
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Why is it highly unlikely? O_o Do your job properly.
Listen guys it’s highly unlikely that at least one of those players will not make it. In the case of Josh McEachran for instance, it’ll be like Rooney coming through at Chelsea & someone writing, it’s highly unlikely he’d make it. Poor researched & obviously ill-thought conclusion. In time lets say 3 years I will come back here & laugh at this journalist.
It is highly unlikely because so few players actually make the breakthrough. McEachran is a very fine prospect but he faces a hard time making the grade at Chelsea because that would need time and patience.
I hope he is a first team regular in three years time and fulfilling his promise. I would be delighted and you would certainly have no need to ‘laugh at me’.