The Premier League Academy Gradute award was created a few years ago to recognize homegrown excellence — i.e. players who came up through a club’s academy and successfully made the transition to senior first-team football before the age of 23. We may be well familiar with Chelsea’s struggles in that department, despite our excellent youth setup, but the Blues are hardly alone in that regard in the richest league in the world, which attracts all the best foreign talent from the continent and beyond.
The first ever recipient of this award was Trent Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool since age 6, in 2019, while last year Marcus Rashford, Manchester United’s own since age 7, was recognized. This year, there was one clear choice, and if you read the headline, you’ll know that to be Mason Mount, Chelsea True Blue since age 6, Chelsea Player of the Year and a nominee for Premier League Player of the Season.
Mount was nominated alongside fellow Champions League winner Reece James (Chelsea since 6), Champions League finalist Phil Foden (Man City since 9), Europa League finalist Mason Greenwood (Man United since 6), one-time Chelsea trainee Declan Rice (West Ham since 14), England goal-scorer yesterday Bukayo Saka (Arsenal since 7), and FA Cup winner Luke Thomas (Leicester since 7).
Meanwhile, back at Chelsea, the pipeline continues to spit out the talent, with defender Alfie Gilchrist, 17, collecting the club’s Scholar of the Year award yesterday. Recent winners of this award include Conor Gallagher, Billy Gilmour, Henry Lawrence, and Lewis Bate.