Although Chelsea gets a lot of flack for having many older players in their squad, there is a wealth of youth players at CFC who will eventually take over for the veterans.
It has been reported that when André Villas-Boas came to Chelsea in July, one of the first things he did as manager was call up the club's scouts and told them to make looking for emerging young talent a chief priority.
Since then, Chelsea has signed several new young prospects, and has made developing ones already at the club a priority.
This article will examine 15 of these potential talents and examine their history, stats, current status, and more.
Here's who they are...
Position: Defensive Midfielder
Romeu was signed this summer from Barcelona and is a graduate of their famed youth academy. He featured in the Under-20 World Cup for Spain this summer, when his team finished at the top of their group and reached the quarterfinals of the tournament before being knocked out by Brazil in a penalty shootout. His performances in Chelsea's first League Cup match and the little game time he's gotten have been very impressive, and I think we'll be seeing more and more of him in the coming years.
Now: Romeu is still with the Chelsea senior squad and is often selected for the bench.
Position: Central Midfielder
McEachran is Blue through and through, having been a member of the team's academy since he was 8 years old. He has risen through the ranks and, at the age of just 18, is a member of the Chelsea senior squad. He has also made a total of 27 appearances for the England youth teams, ranging from Under-16 to Under-21. He's often been compared to Frank Lampard for his style and aptitude on the pitch, and is perhaps one of our best young stars.
Now: McEachran is a member of the Chelsea senior squad, often playing in Cup games and also seeing some PL game time.
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Piazón was signed from São Paulo last season, but will only join Chelsea on January 20, 2012, after he turns 18. He is a playmaker whose creativity and eye for goal have earned him comparisons with Kaka, whom he also bears a striking resemblance to physically. He has made a total of 20 appearances for Brazil's international youth squads, and scored an impressive 15 goals in those 20 appearances since 2009 when he joined the Brazil Under-16s. He is anxious to begin his career at CFC, as he and his family moved to London this summer - half a year before he can play for us legally - in order to start training with the senior squad.
Now: Piazón is currently living in London, awaiting his 18th birthday to become eligible to play.
Courtois was signed this summer from Genk after Chelsea beat Atletico Madrid to his signature. At 19, he has a lot of potential and claims Chelsea see him as the successor to Petr Cech. If that's true, Courtois has pretty large boots to fill, but judging by some of his performances for Atletico recently, he certainly has what it takes to be a world-class keeper in the future.
Now: Courtois is currently on loan to Atletico Madrid for the 2011-12 season, and functions as their first-team keeper.
Kakuta is a French international who has been with Chelsea since 2009. He was on loan to Fulham for the second half of last season and was sent on loan to Bolton this season. He has also featured for the French international youth squads, scoring a total of 15 goals in 48 appearances in all levels from U-16 to U-20. Chelsea will certainly be hoping his loan to Bolton under the wing of manager Owen Coyle will emulate Daniel Sturridge's loan there last season, where Sturridge improved his skills immensely and scored an impressive eight goals in 12 appearances, earning him a place in Chelsea's first team this campaign.
Now: Kakuta is currently on loan to Bolton until January 1, 2012.
Position: Center Back
Kalas was signed by Chelsea in the summer of 2010 and was immediately loaned back to his old club for the 10-11 season. Chelsea decided to recall him from the loan for the second half of the season, and he featured in the reserve team for the rest of the campaign. He is a promising young talent, and I'm sure we'll be seeing more of him in the future.
Now: Kalas is currently on loan to Vitesse along with several other Chelsea youth players.
Position: Center Back
Chalobah is a youth and reserve team player at Chelsea. He was a member of the squad that won the 2010 U-17 Football Championship for England, and he also featured in the 2011 preseason tour of Asia. Time will tell whether he'll make it into the senior squad, but his potential is definitely there.
Now: Chalobah currently plays in Chelsea's youth and reserve teams.
Bertrand is 22 years old, but can certainly still be considered a youth prospect. He is a left back who has been described as Ashley Cole's understudy, as he often goes forward and functions essentially as a left-winger. He's been with CFC since he was 15, and has been out on loans to a myriad of different clubs until this year when AVB decided to keep him in the squad as a backup for Cole. He started for Chelsea just this past week in the League Cup game against Fulham, and his skills are impressive. Don't be surprised if you see him in the first team in the next few seasons.
Now: AVB has decided not to send Bertrand on loan again this season, and he's now a member of the senior squad.
Van Aanholt is a 21-year-old who has previously played on Chelsea's youth and reserve squads. He made two appearances for our senior squad in the 2009-10 season, and after not featuring at all in the 10-11 season, was loaned out to Leicester City for the second half of the last campaign. He was brought with Chelsea on the preseason tour of Asia, and was thought to benefit from a loan to Wigan Athletic this season to improve. He stated that he hopes to enjoy the same success there as Manchester United's Tom Cleverley did last season, as he is now a first-team starter in Sir Alex Ferguson's side.
Now: Van Aanholt is currently on loan at Wigan Athletic for the entire 11-12 season.
Ramires was bought by Carlo Ancelotti from Benfica in the summer of 2010, and although he can't be considered a "prospect" anymore, he certainly has the potential to be a world-class player in the next few years. After a rocky start last season, Ramires seems to have finally adapted to English football and is in fine form. He functions as a box-to-box midfielder, and also has a great eye for goal, even scoring a brace just yesterday in Chelsea's game against Swansea. He is also renowned for his vision and stamina. And lastly, he scored Chelsea's goal of the season last season against Manchester City which can be seen here. If this upward trend continues, Ramires could very well become one of the best midfielders in the world.
Now: Ramires is a member of the Chelsea senior squad, and is a frequent starter.
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Davila was signed from Mexican club Chivas de Guadalajara in August of 2011 and plays as an attacking midfielder. He is a member of Mexico's U-20 squad, and participated in the 2011 CONCACAF Under-20 World Championship, which Mexico were the champions of. He has also scored a total of three goals in 11 appearances for the squad. Chelsea will certainly be hoping he can emulate the success of his former Chivas teammate, Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, who's become a superstar for Manchester United since his transfer there last summer.
Now: Davila is currently on loan with teammate Tomas Kalas at Dutch club Vitesse.
Lukaku was signed from Belgian club Anderlecht in August, after dreaming of playing for Chelsea since he was a kid. At just 17 years old, he was the Belgian first division's top goalscorer in the 09-10 season, and scored 33 goals and provided 13 assists in 73 appearances for Anderlecht. He is also on the Belgian national team. There are bags of potential with Lukaku, and his hunger for success will only fuel his growth as a player.
Now: Lukaku was determined to be a part of AVB's plans this season, and he was not sent on loan.
Feruz was one of the last signings this summer. He was signed from Scottish club Celtic, and at just 16, can be considered a homegrown player if and when he makes it to the Chelsea squad. When he agreed to sign for Chelsea, his agent confirmed that many of the top clubs in Europe were after his signature, but that the young Somalian-born striker saw Chelsea as his best opportunity to develop and grow at his own pace. Dubbed the "Scottish Wayne Rooney," he is known as a pacy forward who can play as a striker or on the wings, and, like Rooney, likes to collect the ball deep and burst through the opposition's defense. He also has several caps for Scotland at the youth level. He is definitely one to watch out for.
Now: Feruz will join Chelsea's academy to further his development.
Sturridge is a product of the Manchester City youth academy, and he played for their senior squad until the end of the 2008-09 season, when his contract expired. That same year, he was voted the Manchester City Young Player of the Season by the fans. That summer he signed for Chelsea in a four-year deal. He only got minimal game time in his first few seasons and only scored two goals, and in the 2011 January transfer window, he was loaned to Bolton Wanderers. When there, his form skyrocketed, and he scored an impressive eight goals in 12 appearances. Sturridge was then brought on Chelsea's preseason tour of Asia, where he scored a total of five goals, including a brace against Scottish Premier League champions Rangers. AVB was largely impressed with Sturridge's performances and decided not to loan him out again, but instead put him right into Chelsea's first team as a right winger. Sturridge may not be a "youth" anymore, but his potential to be a star is huge.
Now: Sturridge is now essentially a guaranteed starter in Chelsea's starting XI, and there has been talk recently that England national team coach Fabio Capello is ready to call Sturridge up to the senior level squad to give him the chance to prove himself in a few friendly matches.
And last, but certainly not least, is AVB himself. He is certainly a young prospect at the club, and more than deserves a spot on this list. In his very first season as a top-flight manager, he won FC Porto the quadruple: the Portuguese Cup, the Portuguese SuperCup, the Portuguese Primeira Liga and the Europa League. This is a very impressive achievement for a man relatively new to coaching and one who is just 33 years of age. Judging by his philosophies and decisions as manager thus far, I have complete confidence that he is the right man to lead Chelsea into its next era. He is perhaps the man who has the most potential of all the young men on this list, and is determined to prove it. If given the time and discretion, he could easily become one of the best managers in the world and exceed even the level of his former boss, Jose Mourinho.
Now: Well, i think we all know this one!
In the end, these are exciting times at Chelsea Football Club. We can enjoy watching our seasoned veterans on the pitch, as well as a few still-active club legends, like Drogba, Terry and Lampard, while at the same time following the development and awaiting the introduction of our brilliant young talents who will eventually take over the reins.