Chelsea battling to avoid youth exodus despite Mauricio Pochettino deal as rival offers flood in
Chelsea are fighting to avoid a youth exodus as rival clubs attempt to poach their best academy players.
Young Blues talents fear their pathways have been blocked by new signings and clubs in the Premier League and across Europe are ready to prise them away.
Incoming head coach Mauricio Pochettino has a record of giving academy players a chance but many are worried the influx of arrivals at the club will limit their opportunities. Charlie Webster, Malik Mothersille and Frankie Runham are among those players who could leave.
Midfielder Webster, 19, has just one year left on his contract and has long-term interest from Borussia Dortmund. Mothersille, a 19-year-old striker, is in the last year of his deal and getting offers from Premier League rivals.
Midfielder Runham, a 16-year-old set-piece specialist, has offers from Newcastle and Brighton, and is set to decide whether to sign his first professional deal at Chelsea or leave.
Chelsea have moved to sign some of the best young talent in the world since Todd Boehly and Clearlake completed their takeover last summer. The club have signed Carney Chukwuemeka, Cesare Casadei, Andrey Santos and Gabiel Slonina, as well as a host of big-money senior signings on long-term contracts.
There is a need to let some players go following the influx of new players but Chelsea will, however, have control over most of the exits from their academy. They are set to loan out several players, including England Under-20 internationals Harvey Vale and Bashir Humphreys, and Finland international goalkeeper Lucas Bergstrom.
Winger Omari Hutchinson, full-back Dylan Williams and centre-back Alfie Gilchrist are seeking their first loan moves ahead of next season. Xavier Simons has been sold to Hull, Dujon Sterling is joining Rangers on a free transfer, while Tino Anjorin and Henry Lawrence are expected to be sold.
Jayden Wareham, Derrick Abu, Bryan Fiabema, Joe Haigh, Prince Adegoke and Ethan Wady will be released. Striker Jimmy-Jay Morgan, a £3million academy signing, will be fit to lead the line next season after surgery following his move from Southampton in January.
Norwich winger Alex Matos has also agreed to join up with Mark Robinson’s Under-21 side from next season. Jamaican international striker Dujuan Richards, 17, will join the Chelsea academy when he turns 18 in November.
Beyond targeting a new striker and a new goalkeeper for Pochettino in the first team, Chelsea are also working to sign youngsters for their academy. They have agreed a deal to sign 16-year-old Ecuadorian wonderkid Kendry Paez in a £17.5m deal. He will not be able to join until he turns 18 in the summer of 2025.
The Blues hope to have a multi-club network set up by the time Paez joins, which would allow him and their other young talents to play in Europe. Chelsea remain in talks to buy French club Strasbourg while they continue to assess the landscape in markets like Portugal, Belgium and Brazil.