The need for Homegrown.
My thanks to Mr. W. Eater whose article ‘May Predictions’ published on 27 May inspired me to research this offering.
FA rules limit all Premier League clubs to a maximum of 17 ‘non-homegrown’ senior players.
A homegrown player is defined as someone who has been affiliated to an English or Welsh club for at least three years prior to their 21st birthday.
8 spots are reserved for homegrown players in every 25 man Premier League squad, though in practice some of these places are either left empty or taken by players classed as under-21s at the start of the season. In theory any under-21 player can be played in addition to those named in the 25 man squad, but their usefulness is generally limited unless they are able to train with the first team on a regular basis, such requiring them to be a squad member.
Thus we are left with a situation where 8 spots are reserved for homegrown players AND/OR under-21s considered good enough to hold down a first team place, the case of Hazard and Oscar in the 2012/2013 season being a good example.
At the moment we only have 2 of these 8 spots (almost certainly) filled for the 2014/2015 season, in the shape of Terry and Cahill.
A further 2 spots will (almost certainly) be reserved for promising youngsters in order to give them experience in training with the first team and become acclimatized to big match atmospheres. These players will be lucky if they even make it onto the pitch during a game.
This leaves us with 4 vacant spots that need to be filled for the squad to maximize its potential.
I have assessed the ten homegrown/under-21 players I deem most likely to be considered for these 4 spots. Please note that ALL under-21 players listed here will qualify as homegrown once they have reached the required age.
Super Frank seems to be slowing down a little bit, to nobody´s surprise, and his future is in doubt with unconfirmed reports linking him with a move to the MSL (again). Whereas he still has a role to play at Chelsea it would probably only be as a rotational player, though one should not overlook the influence and value of an experienced and steady hand both on and off the pitch. I can see him in some sort of Giggs-esqe player/coaching role. With Arry Redknapp for an uncle one suspects that he has a talent for coaching. Hey, we may even really need him if Uncle Roman spits the dummy (again) and sacks Mourinho.
Verdict: One year contract.
Ryan is a very competent Left Back and a European Cup winner. He would provide excellent cover for both Dave and Ivanovich (move Dave to the right) but the big question is whether he is still happy to warm the bench or not? He probably deserves better, like a good Premier league run-out next season, with another club. He has no shortage of quality admirers. Ouch, it hurts describing Liverpool as ‘quality’.
Verdict: Loan with January recall option.
Poor Victor. He is on this list as an established homegrown senior player under contract to CFC. Unfortunately for Victor, Chelsea have such an abundance of world-class wing forwards that there is no place for someone `reasonably good´. He failed to impress at Liverpool last season but would be an attractive addition to many of the minor Premier League clubs. Tottenham perhaps?
What can I say? After two very successful seasons at West Brom and Everton he is certainly no stranger to the rough-and-tumble of the Premier League. At the start of the season there were questions about `aspects of his game´. Let’s hope that he has worked on these over his year at Everton. He is clearly better than any of our current striking options. Will he be happy to play as second-choice striker behind Mr. X (Chelsea’s huge summer signing)? I don’t know. Mourinho apparently thinks that he has a bad attitude given his propensity to sulk when things don’t go his way, but he’s not the only one guilty of an occasional bout of petulance, Jose.
Verdict: Play him.
I will not be alone in saying that after THAT game at Anfield I would be very happy to see Tomas given a cover role in defense, but with bad-boy Kurt Zouma waiting to fill that position I don’t see it happening. In addition to this I don’t see another year sitting on the bench at Chelsea being of any help to his career development. He is a great homegrown prospect. Loan him to somebody good and use him later. JT is not getting any younger.
Now we are talking. Juventus have two of the best midfielders in the world on their books in the shape of Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba. Apparently Juventus are in need of cash so there is a reasonable possibility that one of them (probably Pogba) will be sold. Chelsea is in considerable need of a world-class midfield partner for Matic and he and Pogba would make a beautiful couple. Pogba is classed as homegrown thanks to our friends at Manchester United. Pogba would not be cheap, oh no, but we seem to have enough cash on hand and healthy bank balances don’t win matches. An excellent long-term homegrown prospect.
Verdict: Sign him immediately.
He would be an expensive purchase with an enormous wage bill that isn’t going to get smaller for at least 10 years. We need him and with having just removed Cashley’s wages from our books we can certainly afford him. He is an ideal long-term solution to our homegrown headaches, an England international and a damn good left back into the bargain. He is also a Chelsea fan. We should look after our own. But what do we do with Dave and Ivanovich if we sign Shaw? It is reasonable to assume that at least one of our backline will be missing at any given time due to injury/suspension/illness/rest. With the versatility of our backs, along with Kurt Zouma, giving us the required cover there is an opportunity for everyone to get a decent amount of playing time.
Verdict: Sign him.
An open question. Ross will quite likely turn out to be one of the all-time great attacking midfielders and it would be fitting if he were a Chelsea player, despite his undoubtedly ridiculous price. Having said that, he is still young and has flaws in his game (see Lukaku). Nonetheless I think that he is ready to step up onto the big stage and do his thing. He would probably do wonders in making Oscar raise his game. A midfield posse of Matic, Pogba, Barkley, Ramires and Lampard would be something to relish.
Verdict: Sign him if we can’t get Pogba. Sign him anyway. Loan him back to Everton if we have to.
A homegrown goalkeeper.
With Mark Schwarzer out of contract Chelsea have the opportunity to sign a homegrown back-up goalkeeper. Newly demoted Norwich’s keeper John ‘ice man’ Ruddy (a target last summer) would seem a likely choice.
Verdict: One year contract for Schwazer.
The thinking girl’s Kerry Dixon, I am including Patrick due to the outpouring of love that he receives from the WAGNH community. Realistically he has no chance of the third striker’s position next season. It is very unlikely that Torres will leave in the summer given the money he is earning under contract at Chelsea. I doubt that any of the few clubs that could actually afford him would even want him on a free. If I were Fernando I wouldn’t opt for a considerable pay cut and having to move my family to another country if I didn’t have to. Given the imminent arrival of Mr. X and the hopeful arrival of Lukaku where does this leave Patrick? On loan at a decent Premier League club. Hey, Everton will need a new striker!
Verdict: On loan to Everton.
Yes, there are others within our youth set-up, Piazon, Omeruo and Wallace being notable amongst them. Players such as these will fill the two under-21 `work experience´ spots in the squad. Piazon may even be worth a spot in his own right if we don’t get Barkley. Oscar really needs some competition, and Piazon would be just that.
Why do I have this strange feeling that we haven’t heard the last of Wayne Rooney? Reason suggests otherwise, but football is a funny business.
Hey, how the hell did he get on this list? Oh no, my mum has been fiddling with the computer again.
Verdict: New five year contract with option to dress as Stamford the lion.
This list is far from exhaustive but should provide a good indication of what we can expect on the homegrown/under-21 front for 2014/2015. Yes, somebody will come up with a name that should have been on this list but isn’t. Who knows? Maybe we will end up with some under-21 South American, Asian or African ‘superstar’ that nobody has ever heard of. Please discuss, correct my errors (hopefully there aren’t any) and above all have fun. KTBFFH.