5 Chelsea Youth Team Players with Big Potential

Joe KrishnanContributor IMarch 8, 2013

5 Chelsea Youth Team Players with Big Potential

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    He has spent millions of his own fortune in trying to create an empire at Chelsea Football Club, but one of the key areas of improvement under Roman Abramovich has been the club's youth setup and facilities.

    The arrival of Frank Arnesen as the club's new director of football was a major step in implementing the changes in the setup. The Dutchman had done a similar job with impressive results at Premier League rivals Tottenham.

    Critics have attacked Chelsea in the past for a lack of faith in their younger players, and in some respects they are correct. The time spent scouting and investing in new talent has at times gone to waste, with the likes of Miroslav Stoch, now at Fenerbahce, never given a real chance of progressing despite their obvious ability. 

    Even now, the Blues have an astonishing total of over 25 players out on loan, with around half of that consisting of players who are at top-flight clubs. Most recently, Brazilian starlet Lucas Piazon moved on loan to Malaga, while highly-rated forward Romelu Lukaku was farmed out to West Brom for the season in the summer.

    Chelsea's strategy is to keep their youngsters playing at the highest level possible before coming back to the club to either play or be sold. 

    Nevertheless, the Blues have arguably the best inventory of young players in terms of quality in Europe, with players such as Kevin De Bruyne and Thibaut Courtois.

    And here, we have identified five players who are set to have a bright future in the game, although there are some doubts whether they will stick around to make the grade at Chelsea.

Lucas Piazon (on Loan at Malaga)

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    Chelsea paid the best part of £7 million bringing Lucas Piazon to Chelsea, beating Juventus to his signature. And it does not take a genius to work out why.

    The West London club swooped for Piazon when he represented Brazil in the Under-17 World Cup in 2011, and ensured they skipped ahead of the queue to sign him by agreeing a deal before the tournament ended.

    The 19-year-old is being hailed as the next best version of Real Madrid star Kaka, who, like Piazon, started his career in Brazil with Sao Paulo.

    Piazon's versatility is useful in the attacking sense in that he can play as the main striker, although he is best used as a playmaker or winger, where he has been playing for Malaga this season.

    His dribbling ability is impressive and while he is not the fastest of players, his elegance and touch on the ball displays a maturity of a player 10 years older  and gives him the chance to unlock the opposition defences.

    On his first Premier League start for Chelsea against Aston Villa Piazon impressed greatly, winning a penalty in the 8-0 crushing of the West Midlands club. He missed his own spot kick but still made a lasting impression, and made a few appearances before leaving for the La Liga outfit.

    His loan to Malaga is a smart move, with the Andalusian club currently in the Champions League and performing well in La Liga in fourth spot. And if he is given enough first-team opportunities, he is bound to shine in sunny Marbella.

Josh McEachran (on Loan at Middlesbrough)

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    This is the player who, for the last three years, has been heralded as the man to take the reins from Frank Lampard when he leaves the club.

    But Josh McEachran has endured a frustrating period of stagnation in his career in the last couple of years. His loan move to Swansea under Brendan Rodgers was made with good intentions, but ended with McEachran criticizing his former reserve team coach for leaving him on the bench.

    Chelsea, who were inundated with requests to take McEachran on loan, were understandably unhappy with Rodgers over his lack of faith in the youngster. 

    But his loan to Middlesbrough has been a success, with the Under-21 international making 31 appearances, with three assists coming in those games.

    His passing and vision is rarely seen in an English player, and his style of play is similar to Jack Wilshere. The difference between Wilshere and McEachran is that the former has enjoyed many playing opportunities at his club, the latter has not.

    That being said, McEachran is only 20 years of age. There is still a long time left in his career and there is no doubt that he will stay at Stamford Bridge for at least the next two or three years.

Nathaniel Chalobah (on Loan at Watford)

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    For the way he commands the football pitch, you would be shocked to believe Nathaniel Chalobah is only 18 years old.

    And yet another inspired loan choice which saw Chalobah move on loan to Watford, currently managed by Gianfranco Zola, has seen the central defender-turned-midfielder impress with the high-flying Hornets in the Championship.

    Chalobah has been a revelation for the club this season, gaining invaluable experience and scoring four goals in 29 appearances this season.

    He has already made two appearances for the England Under-21 international team, and Stuart Pearce clearly has enough faith to play the highly-rated youngster when he is much younger than his teammates.

    With John Terry ageing and his form dipping alarmingly, Chalobah could be the player who can take the position of the 31-year-old when he decides to hang up his boots.

    One-club players are hard to come by in football these days; Chalobah might just be one of them.

Tomas Kalas (on Loan at Vitesse Arnhem)

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    Another hefty purchase at such a young age, a then 16-year-old Tomas Kalas cost £5 million. He is already a full international for Czech Republic, yet he can't get anywhere near the Chelsea first team.

    Luckily for Kalas, the European Champions have a feeder club agreement with Vitesse Arnhem, where they send players to obtain work permits and get general playing time. It's an agreement that quite obviously suits both parties, with Vitesse vastly overachieving in the Eredivisie in third place.

    Starting off his career in the primary centre-back position, he's been switched to right-back under Fred Rutten and it's worked a treat, scoring once and giving two assists.

    He's been on loan at Vitesse since August 2011, and his time at the Dutch club has sparked speculation that he could join the club permanently, or even move to Hamburg where Frank Arnesen now is situated.

    However, Chelsea moved to dispel those rumours by signing him up to a new deal until 2017, and it shows that the future could be bright for Kalas. As bright as his bleached, blonde hair.

Islam Feruz

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    Celtic manager Neil Lennon was absolutely devastated when Chelsea swooped to sign their Somalian-born starlet Islam Feruz from the Scottish club's academy. But equally, he recognized it's a superb opportunity for the young star to develop as a player.

    And develop he has, to a remarkable level in fact. 

    He has taken the youth football at domestic and European level by storm, with six goals in eight FA Youth Cup games and was the overall top scorer for the Blues in his debut season.

    The 17-year-old has been shifted out onto the right side due to his slight frame, but his ability playing as a centre-forward is unquestionable.

    Any doubters should look up his debut for the Scotland Under-19 side, as he scored a marvelous hat-trick in a 4-3 win over Switzerland last year, and Scotland's performance chief Mark Wotte has backed Feruz to become a regular goalscorer for the Tartan Army.

    Despite his tender age, a loan move and perhaps a League Cup outing next season beckons for the pacy forward. And the club will be eager to keep the striker under wraps while he continues to develop.

    If he carries on at his current level, Feruz could see himself reach the dizzy heights of the Chelsea first-team squad.