It’s early July, which means it’s once again time to welcome a bunch of new faces into the Chelsea academy as the 2014-15 class of first-year scholars officially begin full-time work at the Cobham academy.
How new they are to you however will be determined by how often you tuned into their FA Youth Cup winning campaign last season, and in reality, the full-time work has long since been a part of the everyday lives of many of them. Over the past two years the club has set up a successful relationship with Glyn School and educated their own prospects on-site, a process which in turn meant a near-permanent presence at Cobham with vastly increased access time for the coaches on the training pitch.
As a result we’ve seen Dominic Solanke, Jay Dasilva and Jake Clarke-Salter amongst many others establish themselves as youth team standouts before the age of sixteen, and they will in turn each spend their first years as scholars attempting to make the step up to regular Under-19 European football and to Adi Viveash’s Under-21 group.
Fourteen youngsters make up the latest group of fledgling names to keep an eye on with three amongst them having arrived from European quarters and a host of others having only every been affiliated to the Blues after being sourced locally and developed since primary school age.
Let’s meet the class of 2014. Click on a player’s name to view his profile on our wiki at TheChels.info.
Tammy Abraham, Forward
South London born and raised, Tammy has been with Chelsea since the age of eight and has impressed at every level on his rise through the ranks. A tall and athletic centre-forward who can also play wide, his prolific form in front of goal at Under-16 level saw him promoted to Under-18 football a year early, and he proved a useful contributor last season.
Hubert Adamczyk, Midfielder
A short yet dynamic attacking midfielder, Hubert joins Chelsea from Zawisza Bydgoszcz after a successful trial period in 2013. His six-week stay last summer saw him earn a longer deal but owing to his family’s insistence on him staying back in Poland to complete his education, he only makes his move to England now.
Mukhtar Ali, Midfielder
Mukhtar is a versatile midfielder who can also play in defence and has caught the eye for both club and country, having represented England at Under-16 and Under-17 levels. A former Leyton Orient junior, he joined Chelsea as a 12 year-old and settled into a central midfielder who is comfortable with the ball, with discipline and creativity both evident in his game.
Faiq Bolkiah, Attacking Midfielder
Faiq is the nephew of the current Sultan of Brunei, but the most notable portion of his football career has come during the last twelve months in England. A trial spell with Arsenal last summer saw him attract attention during the Singapore Cup, but a permanent deal failed to materialise and he moved on to Reading. Fast forward six months and the Bruneian had put pen to paper on a scholarship with The Blues. Fleet of foot and blessed with fantastic skill, the winger offers a resemblance to Neymar to the eye and plays in a similiar manner to the talented young Brazilian.
Isaac Christie-Davies, Midfielder
Another England Under-16 and Under-17 regular, the Brighton-born youngster cuts an imposing figure in the middle of the pitch and uses his size well to break up play and transition from defence to attack. Well educated in the art of being a modern ball-playing midfielder and after featuring here and there for Viveash’s youth team last season, will press for more playing time going forward.
Jake Clarke-Salter, Defender
An extremely gifted defender with a fantastically high ceiling, Jake’s time to shine may have come sooner were it not for an unfortunate yet severe injury suffered on the eve of the 2012-13 season. It ruled him out for much of his Under-15 campaign and set him back some eight months of his career, but he made up for a lot of lost time towards the back end of last season after breaking into the Under-18 fold and remaining there on merit, even earning selection at the business end of the FA Youth Cup run. He looks the part physically and plays with an aggressive leader’s mentality at the heart of the back four.
Jay Dasilva, Defender
A 2012 arrival from Luton Town, Jay made the move from Bedfordshire with his younger twin brothers Cole and Rio. They are both good players in their own right about to begin the season as Under-16s, but it’s fairly safe to assume at this stage that Jay was the apple of Chelsea’s eye when they approached the Hatters two years ago. The left-back and occasional left winger may be short and slight but he is supremely talented and was already the first choice in his position under Viveash for most of last season. His style is highly reminiscent of Ashley Cole and he leads by example with a cool head and a burning desire to win. Very much one to watch for even quicker progress to come, as his ascent into the FA Youth Cup team showed.
Miro Muheim, Midfielder
The latest addition to the group, Swiss midfielder Miro has agreed to move from FC Zurich and, as is almost standard for imports at this age, will earn a professional contract upon his seventeenth birthday. A left-footed midfielder capable of performing any number of duties, he has spoken of understanding the gamble behind a move to such a big club but believes it will ultimately benefit his career far more than remaining in his homeland.
Ruben Sammut, Midfielder
Another amongst this group who has spent his entire formative footballing career at Chelsea, the mature and level-headed Sammut has long been tabbed for a scholarship and now finally begins it after a season involved with the Under-18s. A Scotland youth international who is also eligible for England and Malta, he’s an intelligent midfielder who can play any of the various roles used in the club’s academy formation and can also fill in as a full-back if needed.
Kyle Scott, Midfielder
Young Kyle comes from footballing stock; his father Kevin is Stoke City’s Head of Recruitment, whilst older brother Kristian is on Swansea’s books. Kyle is a midfielder who prefers to rely on technique and craft to give him an advantage in situations where he might be physically outmatched, and after suffering a broken leg fifteen months ago is fit and raring to go at the start of his scholarship. Perhaps impressively for one so young, he has already represented three countries at youth level as England, the United States and the Republic of Ireland all compete for his services.
Dominic Solanke, Forward
Dominic might be the one player in this intake who needs little introduction. He finished last season as Chelsea’s top club goalscorer, netting 20 goals and lifting Chelsea to FA Youth Cup glory whilst adding eleven more for England Under-17s as they became European Champions. He’s already played at Under-21 level and will hope to earn more opportunities to step up after showing in 2013-14 that he’s got more than enough about him to handle it. His movement off the ball is elite for somebody of his age and he’s a clinical finisher off either foot.
Ali Suljic, Defender
Ali is a Swedish prospect who can play at either right-back or centre-back and joined Chelsea as an Under-15 towards the end of the 2012-13 season. He was a regular in his country’s 2013 European Under-17 Championship campaign and also in the following FIFA Under-17 World Cup, and after spending a year settling into English life is now set to begin his scholarship. He’s the latest in a string of teenage arrivals from Sweden in recent years, following Marko Mitrovic, Amin Affane, Anjur Osmanovic and Isak Ssewankambo.
Fikayo Tomori, Defender
A strong, powerful and athletic defender who can play anywhere across the back four, Fikayo broke into the Under-18 ranks early last season and featured in spells throughout the 2013-14 campaign. He likes to get forward when playing at full-back and can be a goal threat but as he’s gotten older, bigger and stronger, he’s been used more often as a centre-back. His versatility is an asset.
Charlie Wakefield, Attacking Midfielder
At the club since the age of twelve, Sussex-born Wakefield caught many an eye last Autumn when his star turn for England’s Under-16 team in the Sky Sports Victory Shield continued Chelsea’s fine recent representation in the competition. A tall winger with great skill and pace, he can also play centrally or at right-back and has made wonderful progress in the last twelve months. Towards the end of last season he was featuring for the Under-18s on merit and will be amongst those expected to make further strides in the next year.
As is always the way at Chelsea, the above will be supplemented by a number of Under-16s who need the challenge of a higher quality of football before featuring in this list next July. Trevoh Chalobah, the younger brother of Nathaniel, made his Under-18 bow last term, as did forward Iké Ugbo amongst a number of others and the likes of goalkeeper Jared Thompson and midfielder Jacob Maddox will also consider themselves ready for a step up.
As always, you can keep right up to date with absolutely everything regarding the academy all season long here at TheChels.net and on Twitter by following @chelseayouth.