Sunday, June 16, 2024
HomeOpinion/FeaturesLamps Lads: How will Chelsea's transfer splurge affect their seven academy graduates?

Lamps Lads: How will Chelsea's transfer splurge affect their seven academy graduates?

Chelsea’s summer spending has taken plenty of headlines throughout the summer months, with Frank Lampard investing heavily in his options as the west London side bid to challenge for major honours next season.

It’s been a lavish window of recruitment for billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, who has funded a remarkable transfer spree that has included the marquee arrivals of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech, Ben Chilwell and the club-record signing of Kai Havertz from Bayer Leverkusen.

Lampard was widely praised for his integration of the club’s best young talents last season but Chelsea’s summer splurge has raised questions over whether that welcome change will continue, the academy graduates who thrived at Stamford Bridge last season now facing a fight for first-team football.

We’ve decided to assess each of the players to have broken through at Chelsea and discuss how the club’s summer spending will affect their prospects:

Mason Mount

Mount flourished during a season-long loan spell at Derby County under Lampard before being handed his opportunity at Chelsea last term, the midfielder a firm favourite of the Blues’ boss following his performances over the past two campaigns.

Only club captain Cesar Azpilicueta and goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga played more Premier League minutes than the 21-year-old for Chelsea last season, with Mount establishing himself for both club and country, winning seven caps for England since his senior debut in September 2019.

He scored an impressive seven goals and provided five assists in the league, but will face huge competition for a first-team place following the club-record signing of Havertz from Leverkusen.

The Germany international is six months Mount’s junior but already regarded as one of the best young players in world football and it remains to be seen how the latter reacts to the star signing’s arrival.

Lampard has previously spoken of how Chelsea’s captures of elite talent drove him on to improve further during his own playing career at Stamford Bridge, and he will be hoping Mount is of a similar mindset to relish the challenge.

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Tammy Abraham

Tammy Abraham must be thinking what more he can do following a stand-out season as Chelsea’s number nine, the forward having learned his trade with a succession of loan spells before being given his chance last season.

The 22-year-old scored a hugely impressive 18 goals in all competitions to be named – alongside the aforementioned Mount – on the shortlist for the PFA Young Player of the Year award, as well as earning international recognition with his first caps and goal for England.

Olivier Giroud’s late season renaissance provided the youngster with a challenge, but the arrival of Timo Werner from RB Leipzig is expected to pose a much greater threat to his hopes of regular football.

The Germany international scored 34 goals in all competitions for Leipzig last season and is regarded as one of the most exciting forwards in European football at present, the 24-year-old set to spearhead a new-look Chelsea side in their pursuit of silverware.

Abraham has shown he is too talented to be a bit-part member of the Chelsea squad but his role is likely to be significantly reduced amid Werner’s presence, given Lampard’s preference for a sole striker.

He has, however, spoken of how he is relishing the competition and will need to take his chances when they arrive next season to secure a starting spot.

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Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Ruben Loftus-Cheek has been in danger of being Chelsea’s forgotten man after missing much of Lampard’s debut season at Stamford Bridge, a serious Achilles injury having ruled out the midfielder for much of the campaign.

The England international has long been a player brimming with potential but has struggled to produce his best performances on a consistent basis, his best run as a Chelsea player halted by a long spell on the sidelines through injury.

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Loftus-Cheek reached double figures for goals in all competitions during the 2018/19 season and will hope for similar output having returned to full fitness, though the arrivals of Hakim Ziyech and Kai Havertz prevent two notable roadblocks in his bid to secure first-team football.

Chelsea possess a wealth of midfield options and regular minutes may prove difficult to come by, a situation unlikely to be welcomed by Loftus-Cheek who faces a defining season and at 24-years-old must now truly deliver on his early promise.

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Fikayo Tomori

Fikayo Tomori began last season as regular for Frank Lampard and looked set for a huge future in the Chelsea backline, earning his first international cap for England and scoring a stunning first Premier League goal from distance against Wolves.

The 22-year-old’s athleticism and passing ability marked him out as a huge talent but his progress stalled significantly during the second half of the campaign, falling firmly out-of-favour and featuring just once in the Premier League since the turn of the New Year.

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He was included in just three match day squads following the league’s restart in June and the arrival of former Paris Saint-Germain captain Thiago Silva has pushed the youngster further down the pecking order, with a loan move looking likely for the coming campaign.

Kai Havertz is also reported to have taken Tomori’s number 29 shirt for the coming season, the defender currently being strongly linked with a season-long switch to Everton.

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Callum Hudson-Odoi

After the saga of a contract situation and rejected bids for his services from Bayern Munich, last season proved a hugely underwhelming campaign for Callum Hudson-Odoi.

The winger is arguably the most naturally talented of Chelsea’s academy graduates but his progress has stalled over the past year, a series of inconsistent displays and injury problems failing to see the teenager kick on as expected.

Hudson-Odoi made just seven league starts for the west London outfit last season, scoring once and providing five assists, failing to dislodge either Christian Pulisic or Willian as a regular starter in Lampard’s side.

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Whilst the likes of Willian and Pedro have now moved on, the arrival of Hakim Ziyech poses a huge problem to the 19-year-old’s hopes of minutes, whilst Kai Havertz and even Mason Mount can operate in wide areas if required.

Just a year ago, Hudson-Odoi was breaking into the England side and spoken of as one of the Three Lions’ bright hopes for the future, the winger will have to work hard to return to that status in a Chelsea side now bursting with talent.

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Reece James

Reece James earned his opportunity at Chelsea after impressing on loan in the Championship with Wigan, showing glimpses of the vast potential that has seen the youngster tipped as a future England international.

The 20-year-old made 16 league starts last season and his presence saw club captain Cesar Azpilicueta shifted to left-back on occasion to accommodate the academy graduate, though the signing of Ben Chilwell from Leicester to fill that problem position means that the two are now likely to be in direct competition to play at right-back.

James is undoubtedly the future in that position and has been compared to the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold for his youthful exuberance in attacking from right-back, though Lampard is unlikely to discard Azpilicueta easily, the Spaniard the leader of his youthful side and amongst the league’s most dependable defenders.

Minutes will come with Chelsea competing on four fronts this season, though it remains to be seen whether James can become an undisputed first-choice.

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Billy Gilmour

The Scottish teenager made a seamless transition to first-team football after announcing himself with his performances for Chelsea earlier this year, earning man-of-the-match awards for his displays in wins against Liverpool and Everton.

Gilmour is highly-rated by Lampard and was named as the club’s academy Player of the Year, though his progress has been halted by a serious knee injury that is expected to rule the midfielder out of the opening months of the campaign.

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Lampard had given the 19-year-old chances over the likes of Jorginho before his injury problem, though he will face a fight for his place upon his return amid the presence of N’Golo Kante and Mateo Kovacic in the deeper roles in Chelsea’s midfield.

The youngest of the players in this feature, however, Gilmour has time to win back a first-team place after already showing he has the talent to thrive at Premier League level, the Scot possessing an assuredness in possession that defies his inexperience.

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