While many Chelsea fans hope to see more youngsters playing a part within the club moving forward, we don't have nearly as much contact with these prospects as we do with first-team members. The rare interviews with youngsters are always a treat, especially when they give us an insight not only on the footballer, but also on the player's personality.
Defender Ola Aina participated in pre-season activities with Chelsea's first-team last year, and is making good showings at the youth ranks in hopes to start his career as a professional footballer. But alongside his focus on football, he also has a passion for art - which motivated him to open a gallery on Instagram to promote up-and-coming artists.
"I'm inspired by art - I used to draw a lot in my primary and secondary days but when I started football I kinda lost touch with it. Now I'm giving back to those unseen artists that are really good."
"I'm passionate about the art so for me to see people do so well in something that I loved doing and still love seeing and doing, it brings joy to me so I'm just trying to help other artists get there. It helps as a release from football. Sometimes it helps me to relax and get away from football. It's not like it's a burden on me, I just really enjoy it."
Aina joined Chelsea at the age of 10, but he was quite close to sign for a regional rival in Tottenham. Luckily, the Spurs' delay in taking a decision over whether or not to offer a deal to him made him come to the Bridge instead.
"Chelsea were the first team to scout me, along with Tottenham, Millwall and Southampton. I went to Tottenham first. I enjoyed it but they were taking too long so we went to Chelsea and they were all for signing me straight away. I trailed for a day and they signed me straight after."
"It was a great experience for me. I really enjoyed it. I was buzzing as well because Chelsea was my dream club. I've supported Chelsea from the age of three, so I was really excited about that."
Chelsea's youth policy and development remains a point of contention amidst fans and the public. Still, youngsters at the club enjoy a world-class facility to train everyday at Cobham. Aina attests to this fact, claiming that the club gave his career a 'solid grounding'.
"Growing up in a club like Chelsea is good. People have different assumptions about the club, but one thing about the club is that every player gets good quality training."
"The opportunity to train at a good level and learn from quality players who we bring in from around the world and from around England is great, and I feel like Chelsea - wherever I go onto next or whatever happens in my career - I feel like Chelsea have played a key factor in it because they have given me a solid grounding."
"I know how to hold myself because of Chelsea and how I've grown up through the years I feel that it's given me a sense of maturity in my football and I'll be ready to face any challenge."
Aina also gave an insight on Guus Hiddink, and said that he sees the Dutch manager making an effort to use more youngsters in the first-team even though he's not going to stay at Chelsea for long.
"As a coach, Hiddink is very good. He's not too vocal but he has very intellectual brain. I think strategically he's very good. He knows how to manage players well. As a whole I think he's an alright manager to be fair."
"I think [Hiddink] is trying [to use more youngsters]. Even though he's not the proper manager for years to come, he has tried to get a few youngsters over training with the first team. He comes to watch the U21 games so he has tried."
"Seeing players like Ruben [Loftus-Cheek], players that I and other academy players have played alongside - seeing him scoring and getting games for the first team - it's motivation for everyone. Even though it's hard to get there, it's not impossible now that we've seen Ruben do it."
-Ola Aina; Source: Off the Post News
With a new manager arriving in the summer at Chelsea's facilities, there's hope that whoever comes along will be able to afford more chances to youngsters such as Aina. But the path to the Blues' first-team is difficult, especially for unproven young players with little to no experience against top-level competition.
The burden of making the most out of our academy is not on the club itself, but also on these players, no matter how young they are. And hopefully they will be able to earn these chances, based only on merit and not on favouritism or a hefty transfer fee.