Robert Kenedy Nunes do Nascimiento, 19, Ruben Ira Loftus-Cheek, 19, and Bertrand Isidore Traoré,
19 — (correction: Traoré turned 20 about three weeks ago) — are the three youngest members of the Chelsea first-team, and, especially in the case of the first two, have already played a decent amount of minutes this season. As impressive as Traoré was in the Eredivisie last year for Vitesse, his opportunities have been a little harder to come by; it's been fresh face Kenedy and the Great Academy Hope RLC who have really flown the flag for the quietly simmering youth revolution (coming soon to a football club near you, one of these days).
Well, at least we, the fans have hyped them up well enough already. But we probably shouldn't get carried away. We're not going to start suddenly relying on the kids, as exciting as that proposition may seem when the veterans dilly-dally around seemingly without a care in the world and we start the season with the worst points haul in almost 30 years.
Here's the boss with the verdict on Kenedy's outing against Walsall, for example.
"It is perfect - quiet, calm, let him play when he plays and catch the opportunities."
"Bertrand Traore had the opportunity against Maccabi and Kenedy did against Walsall, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek did in both matches. This is the way to do it with them - calm, let them play, let them learn. They are good players with very good potential."
The perfect combination of opportunity and performance. Then again, Traoré had to drop down to U21 level yesterday to look for some match action, which probably isn't ideal. But it's still early and Mourinho still seems to firmly believe in the benefits of keeping them around the first-team.
"Kenedy had a good pre-season in the States and he played the game against Barcelona. It was a friendly but he was playing against good players in front of over 75,000 with a big atmosphere. The fact that he could mentally cope with it gave us a little push, and for the evolution of the players it is better if they can stay with us, even if they don't play as much as they could play in a smaller club. I always feel that with young players, that period with the Chelsea first team is very important for them."
As we've said many times before, a one-size fits all approach won't work for every prospect. We have over 30 players out on loan, some also as highly promising as any of the three we've kept with the first-team this season. We also have the likes of Charly Musonda or even John Swift who could benefit from either path, but at least so far, have been limited to youth level football.
But, perhaps the key takeaway is that at least we're actively thinking about the young stars' development (at all levels of the club) and doing what we believe is the best for them. It may not always work out as expected. It probably won't work out at all in more than a few cases. Yet all we need are a couple to show that our plan is working. So, we're going to stay calm and low-key and take our time, and maybe, just maybe one of these three, or one of the many others on loan or in the academy will make that leap to the top.