Five Youngsters Who Can Make an Impact at Chelsea Next Season
Many people predict that the return of Jose Mourinho will spell the end of the promising rise of the Chelsea youth setup.
But taking a quick glance at his recent reign at Real Madrid, you'll soon see how the Portuguese tactician has perhaps learnt from his previous mistakes and given youth players the chance they need to develop.
Raphael Varane, Nacho Fernandez, Alvaro Morata and Jese Rodriguez all shone under the 50-year-old when he was at the Santiago Bernabeu, and now Mourinho will get the chance to work with Chelsea's next generation.
The Blues had no less than 23 players out on loan last season, a staggering amount for a club who had a seemingly thin squad in the previous campaign.
We'll take a look at some of the players who could be in contention for roster spots on the Premier League squad for the 2013-14 season.
Be sure to let us know what you think by joining the discussion at the bottom of the article.
After enjoying a fruitful first spell on loan at Dutch club Vitesse Arnhem in the 2011-12 season, Tomas Kalas was sent back to Chelsea's feeder club for another season to gain some valuable experience.
The 20-year-old, signed from his hometown club Sigma Olomouc for £5 million in 2011, is mainly a centre-back, although his versatility has allowed him to switch to right-back at times.
He made 34 appearances last season, scoring once, and was a key part of the side which managed to exceed expectations by finishing fourth in the Eredivisie.
Kalas has made significant steps in his career in the past two years, making his senior international debut for the Czech Republic national team in a 3-0 win over Slovenia back in November 2012.
At 6'2", the highly-rated defender is strong and athletic, with a respectable amount of technical ability. And with the Blues struggling for defensive options next season, Mourinho hinted that he could be one of several loanees kept on the squad next season.
It's fair to say that any regular observers of the Eredivisie would suggest that Kalas is ready to make the step up to the Premier League action, albeit in a bit-part role.
For a while, it seemed like Chelsea's surprise move for young midfielder Thorgan Hazard was simply to make Eden Hazard's transition from Lille to London a smooth transfer.
But after the 19-year-old's superb loan campaign with Belgian outfit Zulte Waregem, the general consensus is that the younger of the Hazard brothers could eventually equal or even emulate his achievements.
Just like his brother, the ex-Lens starlet is a tricky winger with pace, but can also be utilised as a playmaker, as his passing ability and vision are second to none.
Hazard made 34 appearances for the Belgian club last season and showed his true potential, scoring four times while also assisting on eight goals.
His performances did not go unnoticed, and after representing his country from Under-15 to Under-21 level, it was no surprise to see the talented winger called up to the Belgium senior squad for the first time.
But it wasn't a one off. Three appearances for his country since then has shown that he has a bright future with the Diables Rouges.
After shining during his debut season in Belgium, Anderlecht are reported keen to take him back next season on loan, according to Sky Sports. However, with the talent young Thorgan is showing, Jose Mourinho could decide to keep him at the Blues.
For his influential displays and exhibitions of maturity, it's easy to forget that Nathaniel Chalobah is just 18 years old.
The Sierra Leone-born defender has come through the ranks at Chelsea since the age of 11 and has vastly impressed for the reserve and youth sides at Stamford Bridge.
But it was his loan spell at Watford last season where the England Under-21 international really showed why the Blues staff think so highly of him at the club.
Chalobah's strong, lanky frame makes him an ideal candidate for a central defender, although the talented youngster was used as a holding midfielder last season for Gianfranco Zola's side.
From there, he scored a stunning goal against Leicester along with four other strikes in his 38 appearances. The reports coming back from Loftus Road suggest that Chalobah could well be on the fringes of the first-team next season.
Of course, there will be loan interest in the starlet, mainly due to his superb showings, but Jose Mourinho may want to ease Chalobah into the first-team with a view of nurturing him into Chelsea's next star.
Matej Delac may find himself on the fringes of the Chelsea team this summer, after the club mysteriously released both of their backup goalkeepers.
Ross Turnbull and Henrique Hilario were not offered extensions, and their contracts expired this month. With Petr Cech the only senior goalkeeper left, who would be the second-choice goalkeeper at the West London club?
Of course, there is young English goalkeeper Jamal Blackman who could deputise after coming on in the 4-3 pre-season defeat to Manchester City. But consider another option, forgotten man Matej Delac, who joined Chelsea three years ago from Inter Zapresic.
Despite being just 20 years old, Delac was called up to the Croatia senior squad four years ago by Slaven Bilic as a third-choice goalkeeper. Since then, he has been farmed out on loan to several clubs, including his former club, Dynamo Ceske Budejovice, and Portuguese outfit Vitoria.
Known for his shot stopping and commanding aerial presence, Delac is yet to make a senior appearance for the Blues. However, he is rated highly among the goalkeeping coaches at Stamford Bridge, with Christophe Lochillon playing a key role in his development.
And with Jose Mourinho short of goalkeeping options, Delac could fill the void should his new manager decide against signing a replacement.
It's been quite a few months for young Ruben Loftus-Cheek, and although the midfielder only turned 17 in January, there are high hopes placed on his young shoulders.
After his shock inclusion in Rafa Benitez's squad for the USA Tour, Loftus-Cheek was handed starts in both games and impressed throughout both games before being forced off after some heavy challenges from City's stars.
Nevertheless, Jose Mourinho would have no doubt received glowing reviews from Dermot Drummy, the Chelsea youth team coach who managed Loftus-Cheek for the majority of last season.
In which case, a stint alongside the first-team may be enough to convince the youngster to stay with the Blues, and with his confidence and elegant style of play, he would have no problems settling into the side.