Chelsea's FA Youth Cup winning Class of 2018 - what does the future hold?
Last Updated: 02/05/18 10:04am
As Chelsea lift the FA Youth Cup for the fifth year in a row, we look back at the previous winning squads to see what the future might hold for the current crop at Cobham...
The Blues underlined their Youth Cup dominance with an emphatic 7-1 aggregate victory over Arsenal on Monday, which secured their seventh title in a decade.
The victory saw Jody Morris' side, featuring the likes of England U17 World Cup winner Callum Hudson-Odoi, emulate Manchester United's Busby Babes, who were the last side to win the trophy in five successive years in the 1950s.
Yet for all of their success, Chelsea's failure to provide a pathway for their young players into their first team has often been criticised.
Chelsea cruise to Youth Cup glory
Chelsea cruised to a fifth straight FA Youth Cup success, thumping Arsenal 4-0 at the Emirates to complete a 7-1 aggregate win on Monday.
Before this season's triumph, 40 budding professionals played in an FA Youth Cup final for Chelsea since 2013/14. Reassuringly for the Class of 2018, all 40 players who played in the four previous finals are still playing football to this day, although there are varying degrees of success.
As another group of aspiring professionals look to the next chapter of their careers, we examine what happened to their predecessors to see if it can provide an insight into their futures...
Thirteen FA Youth Cup winners have gone on to appear for the Chelsea first team - that's 32.5 per cent.
Andreas Christensen is the standout performer having cemented his place in Antonio Conte's side this season, racking up 41 appearances in the process.
Next on the list is Ruben Loftus-Cheek who has ran out 32 times for the Blues before joining Crystal Palace on loan this season. But the remaining 13 graduates have managed only 25 appearances between them.
First team apps of Chelsea Youth Cup winners (since 13/14)
|Callum Hudson Odoi||2|
Out on loan
Much has been made of Chelsea's policy of loaning players out across the globe. They currently have 37 players plying their trade on a temporary basis elsewhere, 16 of whom tasted FA Youth Cup glory with the Blues.
Of those 16, only seven had a taste of first-team action before being sent out on loan - with Celtic forward Charly Musonda leading the way with seven appearances.
Chelsea's Youth Cup winners since 13/14 currently on loan
|Player||Loaned to||First team apps at Chelsea|
|Mitchell Beeney||Sligo Rovers||0|
|Bradley Collins||Forest Green||0|
|Ruben Loftus-Cheek||Crystal Palace||32|
|Ike Ugbo||MK Dons||0|
Continue development at Chelsea
As many clubs do, it's clear Chelsea view the FA Youth Cup as a key component in the development of their young players. After gaining valuable experience in the tournament, thoughts turn to the next challenge - notably UEFA Youth League campaigns.
As such, 40 per cent of the Youth Cup winners are still learning their trade at Chelsea, even if first-team opportunities are hard to come by.
Youth Cup winners since 13/14 still at Chelsea
- Nathan Baxter
- Juan Castillo
- Trevoh Chalobah
- Isaac Christie-Davies
- Jamie Cumming
- Cole Dasilva
- Conor Gallagher
- Joshua Grant
- Marc Guehi
- Reece James
- Jacob Maddox
- George McEachran
- Ruben Sammut
- Harvey St Clair
- Martell Taylor-Crossdale
- Tariq Uwakwe
Three players have proven that fleeing the Chelsea nest does not necessarily condemn you to a career in the wilderness.
Dominic Solanke, having made just one first-team appearance for the Blues, opted to continue his development at Liverpool. The 20-year-old has featured 24 times under Jurgen Klopp this season, picked up his first England cap in November's friendly against Brazil and could even get his hands on a Champions League winners' medal.
Solanke has an outside chance of being included in Gareth Southgate's squad for this summer's World Cup, where he could cross paths with former team-mate Mukhtar Ali, who has earned two caps for Saudi Arabia following his permanent move to Vitesse Arnhem.
Isak Ssewankambo, who like Ali did not make the transition into the first team at Chelsea, has taken up an opportunity to play in Scandinavia with Malmo and Molde.
While Chelsea fans might pine for more academy stars in their squad, burdening young talent with the pressures of first-time football before they are ready can backfire.
Giving youngsters a glimpse of first-team football, only to send them away on loans from which few return, can and has had similarly adverse consequences.
Either way, it appears the decision-makers are already plotting for the future, with Morris confirming Hudson-Odoi's next step will be considered this summer.
"We will need to see what the manager thinks come the summer about what goes on because he has been in and around the first team a lot," he said. "He has still got a lot to do [to become a complete player].
"He will get a lot of plaudits because he has shown in glimpses that he has got real, real quality. He showed in other glimpses that he needs to mature and he needs to follow instructions.
"He has got a lot to learn, and so have a lot of players on the pitch, but he has certainly got a chance, if he keeps his feet on the ground and matures properly. There's a young kid there that has got a fantastic amount of talent.
"Nobody wants to see him succeed more than me, some of the things he does with a football is fantastic at times but you also want to shake him at times."
Whether Chelsea are able to utilise the talent of Hudson-Odoi and his team-mates remains to be seen. One thing that is certain though is that it will be a journey worth paying close attention to.