To conclude our week-long review of the reserve and youth seasons, let’s take a look at some of the very best of the campaign, a celebration of all things young and blue, if you will.
A second FA Youth Cup crown in three years leads the way, a magnificent achievement for everyone involved…Nathan Aké was named the academy’s Scholar of the Year after a superb debut campaign in England…Lucas Piazon won the coveted Young Player of the Year Award (the first to win it without playing for the first team since Leon Knight 11 years ago), impressing so quickly after arriving from Sao Paulo in November.
Islam Feruz led the way on the goalscoring front and was the most prolific of three schoolboys at the top of the charts; Alex Kiwomya and Ruben Loftus-Cheek excelled as well…Amin Affane weighed in with his fair share of goals and assists as he stepped his development up in his second year in England…Lewis Baker and John Swift saw plenty of playing time throughout the campaign and both impressed hugely, finishing the year in the reserve team.
Sam Hutchinson’s return from a year of retirement was the early season feel-good factor, and the defender capped things off with first team appearances…James Russell returned to the club after an absence of five years and filled in admirably as an emergency goalkeeper…Billy Clifford racked up seven assists as the team’s most creative outlet.
Milan Lalkovic would have gone close to the top scorer’s title had he not departed on loan; he had a fine half season….finishing just one goal behind eventual top scorer Romelu Lukaku, who was thoroughly professional and keen to learn…opportunities arose for a number of first year scholars to dip their toes in the water throughout the season, and even a few schoolboys got a look…Jeremie Boga made his reserve debut before his youth team bow, appearing just a few days after his 15th birthday against Fulham and holding his own.
Thibaut Courtois followed up his Belgian title at the age of 18 with a Europa League winners medal as a 19 year-old, finishing a fabulous year at Atlético Madrid…Ben Gordon also lifted silverware in the form of the Scottish League Cup at Kilmarnock…Tomas Kalas and Patrick van Aanholt saw Vitesse return to European competition for the first time in over a decade…Gael Kakuta finally showed what he can be capable of with a red-hot run of form for Dijon before internal politics ruined the end of their season…Kevin de Bruyne offered a glimpse of the future by becoming arguably the best player in Belgium.
Lewis Baker’s top corner special in the FA Youth Cup Final against Blackburn…Alex Kiwomya’s presence of mind to lift the ball over a Fulham defender before trapping it and finishing back in November…Islam Feruz’ powerful shot on the turn away to Norwich…Lucas Piazon toying with the Arsenal defenders on a cold December afternoon at London Colney…Amin Affane picking out the top corner on the same pitch for the youth team three months later…Adam Phillip starting the season with a deft volley after a precise pass from Billy Clifford.
Thanks for being involved in another outstanding season of youth and reserve team football at Chelsea, it’s always a pleasure to watch it and share it with so many of you.
Nothing stops during the summer so be sure to keep it here at TheChels and on Twitter @chelseayouth for the very latest on what’s going on at Cobham and at Stamford Bridge, home of the European Champions!