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Mourinho: 'I cannot have a squad of 10 men and 10 kids,' there is a process

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Now the obvious comeback to all of this is, "well, how about just one."  Though Mourinho does claim four.

"From that team that won the UEFA Youth League, four belong to my squad. Four are my players, first-team players who train with the first-team every day and develop with the first-team. When they're not selected with the first-team - and normally they're not selected - they go back and play there."

"Their development is easier when they're training every day with the first-team, doing pre-season, playing some matches, playing 20 minutes or half an hour in an FA Cup match, Capital One Cup match, even a Champions League match or in the league now and again."

"They belong to a process. I can't have 10 of these young players in my squad but I can have three or four and we did that with Loftus-Cheek, Brown, (Andreas) Christensen and (Nathan) Ake - and Solanke a few times."

Fair enough, I suppose, but what's next for these kids?  Surely they won't just hang around the first team all their teenage years and early 20s.  There's only so much that can be gained in training and pre-season action.  Regular match action (of the appropriate level) is incredibly important as well.

"Next season, Ruben will not be a kid in the development process. He will be a first-team player, absolutely ready to play and compete. And we will do the same with two or three or four players."

"Some of the older ones will go on loan to play every game in the Championship or the Premier League, even abroad. And we will bring some of the younger ones into the process. But to have them all at the same time in the first-team squad is hard."

"I cannot have a squad of 10 men and 10 kids. I must have a squad like we have now of 16 or 17 seniors and three or four kids."

This is about the third or fourth time we're hearing this line about Ruben Loftus-Cheek, so it better be happening for sure.  Of course, it's not quite clear what not being "a kid in the development process" means.  Does it mean RLC is no longer just a token trainee in the first-team squad?  Will he actually play?  Will he be at least selected to the bench on a regular basis?  Mourinho calls the current crop of 3-4 trainees "first-team players" as well.  Is this even a change in status for Loftus-Cheek?

And who are the older players?  Are these the Browns and Solankes and the Christensens?  Do we keep them at the club until they qualify as home-grown, then send them out on loans, and then keep / sell according to whatever shakes out?  Is this what Mourinho means by process?

On the one hand, it's nice to hear Jose talk about the kids.  He clearly recognizes their importance, not just as future stars but as Chelsea-grown future stars who could possibly make a difference at Chelsea.  The academy does great work in developing these players, and while we set them up for successful careers, it sure would be nice if some of those successful careers were clad in Chelsea blue.

On the other hand, it's a sobering vision of the future, wherein we'll have to say goodbye to most of our academy favorites at some point.  We'll be lucky if one or two truly make it as elite footballers, which is generally the level needed to make it at Chelsea nowadays.  There is no guarantee that success at U21-U18 levels translates to success at senior level.  More will fail than succeed.  Youth development ain't easy or straightforward.

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