Evaluating Chelsea’s exciting Academy prospects

Jacob Blakeney takes a look at Chelsea’s up and coming stars as Frank Lampard looks to restore the Blues at the top of European football.

Many young footballers come through the Chelsea academy. Most go on to be successful professionals. But relatively very few stay on and make it into Chelsea’s first team.

With the transfer ban preventing any new signings in the last transfer window, Frank Lampard has often had to turn to youth.

First up, we look at the youth academy graduates who have debuted under Lampard.

Billy Gilmour

The 18-year-old Scottish midfielder signed to Chelsea’s academy from Rangers in 2017.

Often thought to be the direct replacement for Jorginho, Gilmour made his senior debut for Chelsea and was awarded the PL2 Player of the Month in August 2019.

Since then, Gilmour has made six more appearances for the first team including a starring role in the 2-0 FA Cup win against Liverpool in March.

The centre midfield position of a Premier League club is almost always stacked with talent, making it difficult for young players to find a place. But with the performances shown so far, Gilmour has a real chance at cementing his spot in the squad.

Reece James

Following a successful loan spell at Championship side Wigan last season, the 20-year-old right-back was handed a first-team debut in a Carabao Cup win against Grimsby Town.

With captain César Azpilicueta being the only other right back in the first team, James has been afforded a good amount of match time making a total of 26 appearances across all competitions.

Chelsea are plainly keen on keeping James at the club, signing him on until the end of the 2024/25 season in January.

Mason Mount

Mount has arguably already made it at Chelsea.

He has the most Premier League appearances of anyone at Chelsea this season with 29 and the second most minutes played, behind only Azpilicueta.

But he is 21 and this is only his first Premier League season. So it is reasonable to expect there is more to come from Mount.

After signing for Chelsea aged 6 in 2005, Mount progressed up the age groups before winning the 2016/17 Chelsea Academy Player Of The Season.

This award-winning season saw him earn a loan move to Eredivisie club Vitesse in 2017/18 and Derby County in the Championship where he would play under future Chelsea manager Frank Lampard.

Mount’s season at Derby combined with Lampard’s hand being forced through the inability to sign a new attacking midfielder saw Mount given the nod to start on Matchday 1.

Since then, Mount has made the spot his own and made his senior debut for the England National Team.

Of all the recent academy graduates, Mount looks best placed to have success at Chelsea.

Armando Broja

Signed from Tottenham Hotspur as an U10 in 2009, the English born Albanian striker made his senior debut for Chelsea in the final game before the season was postponed.

The 4 minutes off the bench against Everton came as reward for his outstanding record in the U18 competition. 10 goals in 9 appearances, with an average of 1 goal every 66.7 minutes.

A tall, strongly built target man, Broja looks to be in a similar mould of striker to both Tammy Abraham and Olivier Giroud.

His style suiting the team is certainly an advantage when it comes to getting the call up to fill in at senior level.

Broja has trained with the Albanian National Team, though he has yet to make his senior debut to go with his U19 and U21 appearances.

Tino Anjorin

After joining Chelsea as a 6 year old, goal scoring central midfielder Anjorin made his senior debut as a 17 year old this season in the Carabao Cup.

Like Borja, he was also brought on as a substitute to make his Premier League debut against Everton in the last game before the season was postponed.

Anjorin is signed until the end of the 2021/22 season, however he is a long way down the order in his position.

It would not be a surprise to see Anjorin be loaned out for next season.

Ian Maatsen

At age 7, Maatsen was deemed too small by his first junior club Feyenoord. At age 17, he made his debut for Chelsea in the Carabao Cup.

Now 18, Maatsen has played the most minutes of anyone in the PL2 leading Chelsea U23 squad.

He is only 5’6”, but as a full back, height is not the be all and end all. He has bulked up considerably in his time at Chelsea and still has more to come.

With Marcos Alonso and Emerson ahead of him in the contest for the left back spot, Maatsen still has time to grow in the PL2 squad and/or away on loan.

The next article in this series will look at the top prospects currently on loan.

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