Despite the Belgian trio of Thibaut Courtois, Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku turning heads at the top level while out on loan, it might have been Nathaniel Chalobah who had the most impressive season out of Chelsea's prospects. Although he's always had the talent to go a long way, his year at Watford has seen him make absurdly rapid progress, to the point where he, at 18, can be looked at as one of the top midfielders in the Championship.
Who do we have to thank for this? Well, there's Chalobah himself for putting in the hard work. But there's someone else near and dear to our hearts who's made a big difference in the youngster's career:
Zola has helped me with a lot of things this season, we could be here all day. When I went there at first I thought I was Ronaldinho and could do anything I wanted. He managed to get my head around it and just get me focused on my task as a midfielder and what I should be doing on the pitch. I think that is what I have improved on this year.
When I was younger, all I cared about when watching Gianfranco Zola was his skill. He was so, so much better than anyone else around that it became impossible for me to watch Chelsea without fixating on him. But as I grew up a little bit, it became clear that his demeanour was even more impressive. That someone can remain so humble despite possessing such extraordinary talent is incredible, and that he's able to pass that same ethic -- which translates to both hard work and likeability -- to at least one of the next generation of Chelsea players is a blessing.
It's a real shame that Watford didn't get promoted this season, but I'd be more than happy for Michael Emenalo and company to keep sending prospects in Zola's direction if they turn out like Chalobah. What a man.