Nothing rejuvenates a squad like some top-class young players. They keep experienced campaigners on their toes, bring a sense of fearlessness to the group and add a real buzz to the whole club. For supporters, too, there is nothing better than seeing a young lad take his chance in the team.
Jose Mourinho is one manager who seems intent on building a squad rife with bright young talent, and he will certainly be looking at some players who can freshen his squad up, either in January or this summer.
Eden Hazard, Oscar and David Luiz are all top youngsters who have chosen to further their careers with the Stamford Bridge outfit, but which players should Mourinho have his eye on in the upcoming transfer windows?
With John Terry not getting younger and rumours lingering over the future of David Luiz, Mourinho will almost certainly be looking to bolster his back-line with a player who has a long-term future at the club.
So it is no surprise that Chelsea have been linked with a move for Saint-Etienne’s central defender Kurt Zouma. The 19-year-old has shown class and quality way beyond his years this season in Ligue 1 and has been a key player in Saint-Etienne finding themselves in a lofty fifth place.
There has been one blemish on his record to date, when he was given a lengthy suspension after an awful tackle on Sochaux’s Thomas Guerbert.
But lapses like that should be expected of any young player, and aside from that one tackle he’s looked the real deal.
According to Alan Nixon in The Mirror, the London club are the favourites to secure the signing of this prodigious young talent in a £10 million deal, but it looks likely to be done this summer. That's unless they receive a big-money bid for David Luiz during this window.
After bursting onto the Premier League landscape last season, Luke Shaw has gone on to establish himself as one of the country’s standout left-backs in this most recent campaign.
Naturally, he is a player who has been linked with more illustrious names than his current employers, Southampton, Chelsea included.
Saints boss Mauricio Pochettino has insisted that Shaw is going nowhere in the January window, and you suspect an enormous bid would have to be made for the South-coast club to even consider selling in the upcoming window.
But this summer? Perhaps. Dave Kidd in The Mirror reports that Chelsea are mulling over a swap deal, which would involve out-of-favour Ryan Bertrand going the other way.
Ashley Cole, who said himself (via The Guardian) that Chelsea should go after Shaw, isn’t the force he once was, and Mourinho will be looking for a long-term replacement. Shaw looks certain to be that target, and even for a reported transfer fee of £30 million, he’d be a sound investment. Expect this one to run on and on.
Thibaut Courtois and Romelu Lukaku
Not new signings, but two potentially world-class young players that Chelsea currently have out on loan.
Lukaku is fast developing into the complete centre-forward that saw the club shell out £18 million for his signature. At Everton, he has already scored nine goals in just 15 starts and already looks a much more rounded player than we saw last season when he was out on loan at West Brom.
He’s a fast learner and looks set to lead Chelsea’s line next season, where he will surely develop into one of the most feared forwards on the planet.
Whilst Lukaku still looks to be learning and developing, Courtois appears very much the real deal already and is arguably Europe’s best young goalkeeper. He has been superb this season and a key cog in Atletico Madrid’s surprise title challenge.
He is ready to challenge, if not oust, Petr Cech for a starting spot. Expect him to return and make a huge impression on the Premier League next year.
Stats courtesy of whoscored.com