Following the 2-1 win against Olimpija Ljubljana on Sunday, Jose Mourinho spoke in some detail about the fate of the youth teamers currently travelling with the senior squad, a version of which appeared on the official site. We heard that Nathan Ake and Andreas Christensen would be involved with the first team, we found out who was being earmarked for loans and who would stay with the reserve.
The only thing that was missing was an update on Lewis Baker. It turns out that the manager spoke about the young midfielder on Sunday, but Chelsea's site didn't include the quotes. So, thanks to the Mirror, here they are now (with some extra goodies):
My conscience is, for example, to say to you that I think Baker, Brown, Solanke, if in a few years they are not national team players, I should blame myself. They are part of a process the club started without me. Now, we have players who will be Chelsea players. And when they become Chelsea players, they will become England players, almost for sure. I’m not saying we’re doing it just for English football, because it is also about us.
Chelsea is seen as a ‘graveyard’ for young talent. But at the moment, officially in the first-team squad, we have Andreas Christiansen, Nathan Ake, probably Baker, because I want to have one more English player. So we are going to have in the first-team squad three players coming from the academy.
The first paragraph is probably fluff, but at least it's pleasant, stirring stuff, and there's no shame in enjoying it. Watching that trio become England stars would be wonderful, and I'm glad Mourinho's spoken out about it.
But the more interesting part is Baker. His lack of mention in the quotes yesterday were strange, and it turns out that the manager does indeed have a special plan for him. Keeping him in the first squad rather than letting him go out on loan strikes me as a very bold choice, but it would have been informed by UEFA's home-grown rules to some extent and will also give us a second masterful set-piece taker for when Cesc Fabregas isn't available. I could definitely see Baker being a useful addition to the senior squad.
But there's surely a deeper reason behind his promotion, and I think it goes a little like this: succeed at the academy level like Baker has done, perform to your best for years, captain your teams to significant trophies, and your reward is a serious shot at playing for the first team. What better motivation for Chelsea's youngsters than to see that Baker's success is being rewarded with the goal they're all striving for?
Hopefully this probably becomes a reality, and hopefully Baker seizes every chance presented to him.