The majority of the sixteen (16!) Academy players who were released or chose to leave Chelsea this summer have now found themselves new teams — nine down, seven to go — with Henry Lawrence and Sam McClelland the two latest to do so.
Lawrence, 21, and our 2019 Scholar of the Year, had spent the last two seasons out on loan in League One (third tier), first with AFC Wimbledon, then with MK Dons, making over 30 appearances for both, usually at right back. The England youth international has chosen a very different challenge next, spreading his wings to the continent and signing a two-year deal (plus one-year option) with Belgian top division outfit Standard Liège — though he will initially go into their U23 B-Team, SL16, who compete in the Belgian second tier.
Meanwhile, former Chelsea youth captain and already senior Northern Ireland international, Sam McClealland has caught on with Scottish Premier League side St. Johnstone, also signing a two-year deal. He’s even made his debut already, in their 2-0 defeat to Hearts over the weekend. The 21-year-old defender spent last season on loan at Barrow AFC in the English fourth tier (League Two), making 30 appearances.
While neither Lawrence nor McClelland quite managed to make a senior appearance for Chelsea, hopefully their time in the Academy — from an early age for Lawrence and from age 16 for McClelland — will have set them up for long and rewarding careers.
Good luck, lads!