Chelsea are on the verge of signing Inter Milan wonderkid Cesare Casadei for around £12.6million (plus £4.2m in add-ons). The 19-year-old midfielder is set to become the latest youngster to move to Stamford Bridge this summer following an influx of raw talent being brought in.
The Blues have brought in the likes of Carney Chukwuemeka, Gabriel Slonina, Eddie Beach, Omari Hutchinson, Zac Sturge and Tyler Dibling already this summer – with a clear focus from new co-owner Todd Boehly being on improving the club’s famous academy system.
Over the years, Chelsea have produced some fabulous players from their academy. In the first- team squad at the moment, there’s the likes of Mason Mount, Reece James, Conor Gallagher, Trevoh Chalobah, Ethan Ampadu, Ruben Loftus- Cheek, Billy Gilmour, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Armando Broja.
That’s not even to mention the countless talent that have gone on to ply their trade elsewhere. Just look at the likes of Marc Guehi, Tammy Abraham and Fikayo Tomori, who all moved on permanent deals last summer and are continuing to flourish for their respective clubs.
For all of the success Chelsea have had with investing in their youth, there have also been some failures – most of them coming when Roman Abramovich was owner of the club.
There’s obviously the argument that the word “failure” is a bit harsh because Chelsea have done some very good business with some previous youngsters, but it will be intriguing to see if Boehly approaches matters differently. In July 2013, Chelsea completed the signing of talented Dutch midfielder Marco van Ginkel from Vitesse Arnhem. The fee was believed to be around £8m, but during his eight-year stay at Samford Bridge, the now-PSV Eindhoven midfielder made just two Premier League appearances.
He is by no means the only player to have similar luck at Stamford Bridge after being signed for a relatively big fee. See Matt Miazga, for example, who was recently released by Chelsea after making, like Van Ginkel, just two Premier League appearances in his six years with the club.
It’s mistakes like these that should serve as a warning to Boehly, who has spoken intensely about his desire to keep improving the club’s academy. Bringing in Chukwuemeka for around £20m is seen by many as good business because of the 18-year-old’s sky-high potential.
It will only be smart business for Chelsea, though, if the club implement him correctly. Chelsea have fallen into a trap of continuing to loan young players out and almost shelving them to one side when doing so. Look at the likes of Ampadu now, who is set to go out on yet another loan this summer, especially if a new central defender is signed before next month’s deadline.
It means their contract continues to run down and their value subsequently decreases. With the right attention, these guys Chelsea are signing can go on to become world-beaters. There’s genuine excitement around the signings of Chukwuemeka and Casadei, but Chelsea supporters will be desperate to see the club’s past approach avoided this time under new ownership.