Chelsea's Rumoured John Stones Interest Continues Policy of Talent Hoarding

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Chelsea's Rumoured John Stones Interest Continues Policy of Talent Hoarding
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Chelsea confirmed the signing of left-back Filipe Luis on the club's official website this week, and while the Brazilian's £19 million fee has been a subject of debate, there are far more pressing issues in the Chelsea defence right now.

Indeed, issues that impact the entire Chelsea squad.

The Daily Star has been among the many outlets to link Chelsea with Everton's John Stones, the defender who impressed enough for his club last season to be a part of England's training squads ahead of the World Cup.

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It's clear he has a bright future ahead of him, but what isn't so transparent is why Chelsea are among those clubs being linked with a bid.

At the heart of the Stones headlines is no doubt his agent, mentioning his client in the same breath as Everton's Premier League rivals in order to assist in getting him a better deal on the back of an encouraging 2013/14.

It's an often-used tactic, although, whether true or not, the rumors have highlighted yet again Chelsea's apparent policy of talent hoarding.

Were Jose Mourinho to make a successful move for Stones, where would the 20-year-old fit into his current team?

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At right-back, the Blues already have the considerable talents of Branislav Ivanovic and Cesar Azpilicueta, not to mention the Brazilian youngster Wallace, who recently moved on loan to Vitesse Arnhem after spending a year in Serie A with Inter Milan.

At centre-back, John Terry and Gary Cahill are the first choice, while behind them are the likes of Tomas Kalas—now on loan at FC Koln—Kurt Zouma and a host of other youngsters, including the highly rated Andreas Christensen.

It's at left-back where, despite the acquisition of Luis, the Blues remain low on numbers. Targeting that area of his defence would surely be more rewarding for Mourinho.

Last season, Chelsea had 27 players out on loan.

Clive Rose/Getty Images

By the numbers alone, that's an entire first-team squad Chelsea had dotted across the continent.

Yet the players still come and more signings are made, adding to the club's growing list of talent.

What happens to those 27 players now that they're back at the club, let alone the others who remained in the academy and the club's other teams?

To date, a handful have gone on loan again, while the others have ensured preseason will be congested at Chelsea's Cobham training ground, despite the World Cup decimating Mourinho's squad.

Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images

We've seen it in recent years where Chelsea's recruitment drive has been targeted on youth, specifically bringing in large numbers of players from across the globe to pack out the academy and under-21 teams.

How many have established themselves as first-team regulars? None.

It's a major concern, not only for other clubs—those who are missing out on signing players because the likes of Chelsea have deeper pockets—but for the Blues and the players themselves.

To make the transformation from young hopeful to first-team star requires opportunity, of which last season we saw Lewis Baker given once when he appeared in the FA Cup.

Save for a few darting runs into space, his total game time of three minutes is far from enough to judge whether he will make it at the highest level.

The pathway to Chelsea's first team has long been blocked by international stars, players such as recent recruits Cesc Fabregas and Diego Costa, proven talents who will keep the club fighting for major honors.

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Outside of Terry, Ryan Bertrand is the only other player to have featured from Chelsea's academy and even he has fallen by the wayside, unable to establish himself. He spent the last half of 2013/14 on loan at Aston Villa and now Luis has been signed, his chances of inheriting Ashley Cole's No. 3 shirt are slim.

The point is, Chelsea continue to recruit these young players, but after they've signed their contracts and been paraded, it's often the last we see of them.

When will things change?

It's one thing to be ambitious, quite another to stifle the ambitions of players by hoarding talent in the hope a star will be found.

That's not to say it's Chelsea's intention, but until some of these promising stars begin to make good, eyebrows will always be raised whenever another young star is linked with the club.

 

Garry Hayes is Bleacher Report's lead Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @garryhayes

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