There's been some worry among a certain section of Chelsea's support that the huge overhaul that Michael Emenalo and company are undertaking may well have a downside in that it limits the chances of Chelsea's academy players. While I suspect that that's at least partially true -- the likes of Lucas Piazon are going to have more difficulty beating Eden Hazard and Marko Marin into the first team than they would Florent Malouda or Salomon Kalou -- the situation isn't too dire, and the club's still taking care of its youngsters.
Although Josh McEachran and Romelu Lukaku might be the biggest names on the prospect list, Tomas Kalas is a name you should know. He's one of the better defensive prospects in the world and has the potential to be a standout centre back for years to come. He had a really impressive season with Vitesse Arnhem last year, helping them to the Europa League, and Chelsea have now confirmed that he'll be back in the Eredivisie for their 2012/13 campaign. Oh, and that he's been rewarded with a new long-term contract:
Before departing for Holland, Kalas also signed a contract extension with Chelsea committing him to the club until the summer of 2017.
I know that we want to give the kids as much time as possible to show that they matter, but you have to imagine that Kalas will be thrilled to get a deal this long. It show some real commitment from the club to his future, even if he's not deemed to be ready for the first team just yet.
Kalas, 19, joined the club during the summer 2010 transfer window, signing from Czech outfit Sigma Olomouc for a reported fee of around €5M. His original contract was set to expire at the end of the 2013/14 season.