These are certainly interesting times at Chelsea, with the club spending inordinate amounts in the transfer market, yet spending them largely on players in their early 20s, if not even younger.
In transfer windows past, and even at the start of last summer, massive transfer fees were almost exclusively reserved for players in or near their primes — and sometimes beyond their primes unfortunately as well. We’re in no danger of making those same mistakes in this new world order, that’s for sure! We might be making different mistakes of course, or we might not. Either way, it’s something new and something exciting, and for some, quite confusing even!
The 5D chess move here is throwing so much money at so many young players that me, a proud transfer hater, can only sit here and laugh maniacally at the chaos unfolding in front of us all.— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) January 19, 2023
Among the very first to walk through the doors under this new paradigm was then 18-year-old Carney Chukwuemeka, who traded Aston Villa claret for Chelsea Blue and had many wondering if he was making the right move for his career. Chelsea, after all, aren’t exactly best known for giving young players the best pathways into our first-team (despite the likes of Mason Mount and Reece James navigating them expertly).
To be sure, Chukwuemeka hasn’t suddenly become a regular, but he has started to feature regularly — in part thanks to our ridiculous amount of injuries. He’s played in five of the six games since the World Cup and even got the start over the weekend in the 1-0 win against Crystal Palace, his first Premier League start for Chelsea (and third overall).
Needless to say, that sort of involvement is only growing the young man’s already good amount of self-confidence.
“I loved it, from the warm-up, from when I knew I was starting, I was buzzing already. I couldn’t wait to get on the pitch and it was a good first-start experience for me.
“I feel so confident in myself. With help from the gaffer and the players, who as a young player are helping me, I’m just building my trust in my own game as well. That’s helped a lot. I’m loving it at the minute and long may it continue.”
-Carney Chukwuemeka; source: Chelsea FC
How long it may continue might depend on what might happen with transfers and injuries in the second-half of the season. Chukwuemeka’s shown that he’s quite ready for more minutes at this level, but so have plenty of others, so head coach Graham Potter might have a rather tough minutes-juggling job on his hands — especially when all the injured players start returning as well, and with just the Premier League and a couple Champions League games scheduled at the moment.
But, we seem to be all-in on this rebuild, with an extra-extra-extra-extra-long leash afforded to Potter, too, so hopefully we will prioritize long-term benefits when it comes to matchday squad selections as well.