Summer time. The winds of change are once again in the air as far as football goes, and whilst teams throughout Europe prepare for their coming season, squads are being shaped at youth and reserve level.
Part of that annual process is the induction of a new group of first-year scholars, which Chelsea have officially announced today.
It’s a smaller intake than last season’s bumper double-figure tally, but like twelve months ago, the vast majority of the group are locally-sourced, developed by the club throughout their teens, and will continue to be a part of Chelsea’s future.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the boys bidding to become the club’s next generation talents. Click on the player’s name to view his profile at TheChels.info.
Amin Affane (Attacking Midfielder, Sweden): Chelsea’s first and thus far only overseas academy import of the summer, mirroring twelve months ago when Philipp Prosenik was the single player arriving, breaking from a recent tradition. A small, technically gifted playmaker, he has represented Sweden’s Under-16 team and has a keen eye for goal. Chose to come to London ahead of other interest from around Europe.
Jamal Blackman (Goalkeeper, England): An extremely tall, athletic goalkeeper who has already played for England at Under-16 and Under-17 level, Croydon-born Jamal has worked with the youth team on occasion but is yet to play in the team. He shows raw potential with the frame to dominate and will benefit from working with Mark Beeney on a daily basis, with the former Leeds goalkeeper enjoying a strong reputation at the club amongst the keeping fraternity.
Todd Kane (Right Back, England): An energetic and attacking right-back who broke into the Under-18 set-up late last season, to great effect. His game is largely a no-frills affair and whilst his approach may appear simple, it has thus far been devastatingly effective. Assists against Leicester and Cardiff and a goal against Ipswich showed his attacking instincts and he will be a regular name on Drummy’s team sheet.
Reece Loudon (Left Midfielder, England): Reece holds the rather impressive statistic of having made his reserve team debut before making an Under-18 appearance, playing half an hour as a substitute against Portsmouth with every other option unavailable. A left-sided player with experience at full-back and on the wing, he strikes a clean and powerful shot and looks to make an impact in the attacking third.
Daniel Mills Pappoe (Centre Back, England): Daniel is technically now a first-year scholar but made his Under-18 debut way back in 2006 (as a 13 year-old!) and after a devastating knee injury in 2008, recovered to play for the youth team regularly last season. He missed out on the FA Youth Cup Final through injury but was fast-tracked into the reserves and held his own as a 15 year-old occasionally against international strikers.
Archange Nkumu (Defender, England): A versatile defender who can play in midfield, Archange reminds you of Nathaniel Chalobah in physical appearance and in his approach to the game. Athletically gifted, he plays a composed game with room for improvement.
Danny Stenning (Midfielder, England): A midfield technician similar in style to Anton Rodgers and has developed the same wicked delivery from set pieces. He will be looking to assert himself on games more physically in his first twelve months as a full-time scholar in order to complement his technical prowess.
In addition to this group, Chelsea have also decided to promote a quartet of schoolboys to the youth team ranks on a full-time basis earlier than scheduled, and whilst they will still feature largely for the Under-16 team, they will be a part of the squad.
Nathaniel Chalobah is expected to feature for Dermot Drummy’s team as a regular feature after being a crucial part of England’s European Under-17 Championship glory in May, and despite not turning 16 until December will continue playing up an age group.
Doing so alongside him will be strikers Reece Mitchell (a team-mate of Liverpool’s Raheem Sterling in North London schools football) and Yann Gueho (a French forward with experience at INF Clairefontaine) and midfielder John Swift, who played twice for the youth team last season.
As the season goes on their playing time will likely grow, but for now expect just Chalobah to play early and often. He deserves his chance, having impressed at the end of last season, and he added two goals from his eight appearances to boot.
The season, as usual, promises to be full of excitement and debate in equal measure, and you’ll be able to follow it all in unrivalled depth here on TheChels, and on Twitter @chelseayouth.