Mourinho discusses youth development

Richard Heathcote

Yesterday we got the news that three Chelsea players who've spent some time on loan will be back and part of the first team squad, presumably for good. Naturally, not every young player's going to be part of that group, and this time Jose Mourinho's talking about the players who aren't quite ready to make that step up yet:

We have been training with six [young players]. They are players that are not going to belong officially to the first team, but we are looking for their development and all of us together are going to make decisions for their benefit.

The best thing may be to stay in the club, in the Under-21s because the Under-21 squad have a lot of matches that they didn't have before. They play their championship, they play a European competition, they have a lot more motivation even if they are at a level where they could play in the top divisions in some countries.

So the motivation is higher and the conditions for their development is higher if they stay, but some of them have already a loan and we are making the right decisions where are the best loans, which manager and which leagues can help them to develop - where they are going to play more times, where it will be easiest to transfer what they learn now when they come back.

Source: ChelseaFC.com

Who are the six? It looks like they're Nathaniel Chalobah, Josh McEachran, Lucas Piazon, Wallace, Jamal Blackman and Islam Feruz, at least according to @chelseayouth. I haven't been paying as much attention to where everyone is as he has, so you should trust him.

This means that unlike with Tomas Kalas, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne, we should not be expecting Chalobah, McEachran, Piazon et. al to be seriously contributing to the first team next season. That's not much of a surprise -- of the six mentioned only Chalobah seemed a serious possibility to get playing time, and even he's probably at least a season away from being ready.

The comments about the under-21 team are interesting, but I think that ultimately most of the group will go out on loan. There'll already be competition for playing time with the under-21s, and accommodating some of the players who've already graduated the youth setup and entered league football as loanees must mean restricting the time of everyone else.

Mourinho is right, however, in pointing out that there are some advantages to keeping players in-house rather than loaning them out, and the Blues' incredible success with loans last season shouldn't blind us to the risks involved. No matter what, however, it's clear that the club hierarchy is thinking very hard about how to best develop the players who do go out. As the past few years have showed, there's a very sensible plan in place for the youngsters.

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