How I would balance youth in this Chelsea structure

I’ve been struggling to title this opinion piece, mainly because I’ve got so many different subjects to address. I’ve seen so many wayward opinions and over-reactions after last nights defeat to Arsenal, I’m attempting to bring some balance here with my thoughts.

Antonio Conte once again addressed the fact that transfer business at Chelsea, is not down to him. Having mentioned in the past as well, that he has frustrations on missing out on certain targets.

The bottom line here is he is employed as a Head Coach, which essentially means he is there to Coach and get the best out of a group of players. He is not a Manager – hence why he does not get a lot of say in the Boardroom.

So in a nutshell, Conte will give his ideas and targets to the board, and they will then go back to him as to whether those targets are possible. If they aren’t, Conte will need to offer second, third and even fourth choices, which is where the ‘Andy Carroll is a Conte target’ comes from. Because, yes ultimately he is, but was he a first choice? Absolutely not. Harry Kane would be his first choice, he wants a target man and they are a dying breed.

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But Chelsea have other priorities, they have a new stadium build that is set to cost One billion pounds. Whilst doing this they are still trying to bring players in, which is where the problem is, in my opinion.

Chelsea have been bringing in budgeted third or fourth choice targets, reluctant to go over the £40 million mark, except for Alvaro Morata. But then we literally had no choice to spend big on him, its unavoidable to bring in a top striker in today’s market for any less, and since we lost Diego Costa, we had to spend out on a forward.

But some of the other signings have been questionable over the last few years, desperate in fact. I don’t need to start naming them as I think we all agree on the majority and that could be a whole new article.

I don’t think anyone is blameless here though and I am not placing more blame on either one side. For what its worth I still support Conte and I do agree that he has not been fully backed by the board in bringing in some targets. But I also believe that he is not utilising our strengths. We have an influx of attacking talent and could be a frightening unit with pace, but the style of play used is often negative. But again, that is a whole different article.

My solution for the above is simple, it’s that favourite word of mine again, ‘balance’. If the board are not supporting Conte with transfer targets, then we should be signing one or two of our first choice targets for example, Alex Sandro, and then backing that up by promoting youth who are good enough for squad depth.

Alex Sandro of Juventus FC celebrates after scoring a goal
Sandro is a long time target of Antonio Conte and could have been signed for £60 million this month.

Chelsea did not want to pay £60 million for Sandro. But an example of what I mean here is they should be paying that, but then saving £25 million on buying Davide Zappacosta and instead promoting Dujon Sterling, who is better than Zappacosta and could rival Victor Moses in my opinion. Before anyone jumps in, yes I have watched Sterling regularly over the last few years and it’s my opinion that he is more than good enough already and does not need that ‘step’. The step should be integrating in as a squad player and getting regular game time to develop.

So we are now about to spend £20-£25 million on Emerson Palmieri, but wouldn’t need to do that if we had Sandro. So that is £50 million for Emerson and Zappacosta, when an extra £10 million gets you Sandro and Sterling. Wing backs of Marcos Alonso, Alex Sandro, Victor Moses and Dujon Sterling. More than good enough, whilst also bringing through an academy player.

This is purely just an example, I’m not here to debate the quality of Sandro and Emerson, the latter is set to surprise us all so I’ve heard and could end up being better than Sandro. But my point is Sandro was a first choice, we should be trying to bring as many first choices in as possible, rather than buying a few third or fourth choices instead, when youth could do just as good a job.

There are other examples of this all over the park, Ruben Loftus-Cheek for example, and Tammy Abraham.

I’m not saying we play all youth, I’m saying we should integrate more of them who are good enough, alongside bringing in some of our first choice targets.

Instead of signing five third choice players, why not sign two first choice world-class players in the areas needed most, then promote three academy players who are already good enough in my opinion? Again, just an example.

I believe by doing this, we could save more money and be able to compete for top players in the market still, whilst building the new stadium.

Sterling Ampadu

I also feel that a number of young players should be playing week in week out now for Chelsea, I’d have no concerns over trusting them – I truly believe that giving them regular game time when they are ready, will develop them. Callum Hudson-Odoi, Dujon Sterling, Ethan Ampadu and Charly Musonda in my opinion, should all be in our squad right now rather than spending more money on third or fourth choice targets.

Sending them on loan is all well and good, but that more often than not will stumble their progress and development. Dropping down a league or going to a lower quality league abroad, might not always be the development they need to get better as a player. John Terry had six appearances on loan at Nottingham Forest before he was integrated into the Chelsea first team, hardly enough to develop him or give him the so-called experience needed.

He did his developing at Chelsea, getting first hand experience in the top league in a top team. That worked for him and it could work for a number of these other players who have the maturity and confidence, such as Ethan Ampadu. He only had 8 appearances in League Two for Exeter City, but I for one would not be the slightest bit concerned if he was playing for Chelsea first team week in week out right now, I have full confidence in his ability and that would only grow game by game.

I feel exactly the same about a number of our other youth products, who I do watch week in week out in close proximity.

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4 thoughts on “How I would balance youth in this Chelsea structure”

  1. Very good article and I think Conte should play players like Masounda as he’s good enough to be in the squad. We needed lotus for this season and who ever let him go on loan made a big mistake same goes for Abraham.

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  2. I agree with you on integrating our young players into the first team. However, I disagree with the idea of spending big e.g £60 Million on a player like Sandro to compete with Alonso who is already doing so well, all in the name of buying first choice target. Rather, we should promote someone from our youth team to provide backup for Alonso and then spend money to get a better Striker instead.
    Also, The board does not determine who gets to play or promoted to the first team. That is solely the responsibility of the coach. I am guessing the Board will be wondering why Conte is refusing to promote those boys instead asking for expensive players to fill their places.
    We should remember that the Board has the responsibility to manage the club financially to keep it going. They are about to spend big for the Stadium and that money has to come from somewhere. Chelsea does not make as much money as most of these other clubs from attendance because Stamford bridge seats fewer people. So Conte should quit whining, roll up his sleeves and be more creative with the abundance of talents at his disposal. We shouldn’t spend big just because other teams are spending big.

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  3. Good thoughts boss, I like the idea of mixing in youth to allow them to develop even more. What’s your input on the whole Diego Costa saga? I loved him and everything he did in a blue shirt, and although he isn’t a traditional centre forward, he was a brute and wasn’t scared to use his size to abuse a back line. Wasn’t bad in the air, could hold a ball up too. Do you think Conte really told him his time was up, or do you think there was more to it all? Cheers

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