Ranking Chelsea's Far East Squad Newcomers on Chances of Premier League Action

Garry Hayes@@garryhayesFeatured ColumnistJuly 26, 2017

SINGAPORE - JULY 25: Antonio Conte Manager of Chelsea speaks to the media prior to kick off during the International Champions Cup match between Bayern Munich and Chelsea FC and FC Bayern Munich at National Stadium on July 25, 2017 in Singapore.  (Photo by Stanley Chou/Getty Images for ICC)
Stanley Chou/Getty Images

In addition to the new signings we're seeing on show during Chelsea's pre-season tour of the Far East, Antonio Conte has packed his squad full of loan stars and academy graduates this summer.

There are 12 players in his squad who have either been promoted for pre-season or have featured for the second-year Blues manager after returning to Stamford Bridge from loan spells in 2016/17.

Some of them are already well-known and have first-team experience as Chelsea players, but others are still waiting for their chance to shine.

So who can we expect to be given a vote of confidence from the manager in 2017/18? Who will be given a chance to help the Blues defend their Premier League title?

Join us as we rank Chelsea's Far East squad newcomers on their chances of featuring for the first team next season.

       

12. Kenedy

SINGAPORE - JULY 24: Kenedy of Chelsea  FC runs with the ball during a Chelsea FC International Champions Cup training session at National Stadium on July 24, 2017 in Singapore.  (Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images  for ICC)
Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images

Until he got on Instagram and started posting stories that offended a nation, Kenedy would have ranked high up on this list.

But following the reaction in China to his behaviour, which has seen the Brazilian subsequently sent home in disgrace to continue pre-season back in England, it's difficult to see him getting anywhere near Conte's starting XI in 2017/18.

From a playing perspective, that's a crying shame. Kenedy has been seen as a player with great potential for the past two years. And with no signings yet made to compete with Marcos Alonso at left wing-back, he looked well-placed to take advantage.

Unless he can make amends, there's an argument to suggest we may not see him in Chelsea colours again, let alone in the upcoming season.

       

11. Marcin Bulka

The giant Pole joined Chelsea last summer and played a handful of matches for the youth team. He's been on tour this summer to bed him in more at the club, but with three senior goalkeepers ahead of him, opportunities are going to be few in 2017/18.

At 17 years old, Bulka remains raw and will return to youth-team duties soon after Chelsea return from the Far East, unless the Blues suffer a goalkeeper crisis.

        

10. Tomas Kalas

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - APRIL 20: Tomas Kalas of Chelsea gestures during the FA Youth Cup Semi Final 2nd Leg between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on April 20, 2011 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Chelsea supporters are still sold on Kalas and that debut against Liverpool in 2014 when he played a starring role as the Blues crushed the Reds' title dreams at Anfield.

Since then he has been on loan with the likes of Reading and Fulham and hasn't featured in a competitive game for Chelsea in three years. He's made a couple of appearances this pre-season for Conte, but with the defensive reinforcements the Blues have made, it's difficult to see anything else but another loan move for the Czech.

He has other young players ahead of him at the back, too, meaning he's a long way down the pecking order at Stamford Bridge.

        

9. Kyle Scott

SINGAPORE - JULY 23:  Kyle Scott of Chelsea FC arrives at Jet Quay Private Terminal ahead of the International Champions Cup on July 23, 2017 in Singapore.  (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images  for ICC)
Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

A silky, creative midfielder, Scott has plenty in his locker. What he's lacking now is first-team experience to show he is capable of cutting it at the highest level.

It's the same for any young hopeful at Stamford Bridge. The reality means loan moves across England and Europe to gain that much-needed experience. He will be 20 in December, so after a few years of making a name for himself in the youth ranks, he needs to branch out.

He has the potential to be a special player, but this season at Chelsea is most certainly too soon given the club's policy in the past with players in Scott's position.

        

8. Fikayo Tomori

LEIGH, GREATER MANCHESTER - AUGUST 28: Fitayo Tomori of Chelsea  during the Premier League 2 fixture between Manchester United and Chelsea at Leigh Sports Village on August 28, 2016 in Leigh, Greater Manchester. (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images
Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images

After a slow start at Brighton & Hove Albion last season, Tomori eventually found his feet and gained some momentum to play a part on the Seagulls' promotion to the Premier League.

He's a world champion at under-20 level now, too, having been part of the England side that won the World Cup this summer.

Unfortunately, that doesn't account for much at clubs like Chelsea. Tomori remains a prospect, but with just half a season of senior football under his belt, he has a long way to go if he's to convince Conte he is what Chelsea need at the back right now.

Tomori's target should be to make an impression on his manager in pre-season and build on that with a loan move for the entire campaign.

       

7. Jake Clarke-Salter

SINGAPORE - JULY 24: Michy Batshuayi and Jake Clarke-Salter of Chelsea FC competes during a Chelsea FC International Champions Cup training session at National Stadium on July 24, 2017 in Singapore.  (Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images  for ICC)
Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images

He's been on the radar for quite some time, and John Terry ranks among his many famous admirers. But the 19-year-old still has much to do if he's to emulate the former club captain and become a first-team regular at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea have invested in Antonio Rudiger this summer, which means Clarke-Salter has to look elsewhere if he wants to be playing regularly this season. That's a harsh reality for many of these young players coming through, knowing they're competing with megamoney signings.

Clarke-Salter does remain raw, though. He spent a year with Bristol Rovers in League One last season, where being injured didn't help him. Now he should be aiming for a higher league to gain momentum and add to his growing reputation.

        

6. Jeremie Boga

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - JULY 25: Bayern Munich Midfielder Renato Sanches (C) fights for the ball with Chelsea Midfielder Jeremie Boga (R) during the International Champions Cup match between Chelsea FC and FC Bayern Munich at National Stadium on July 25, 2
Power Sport Images/Getty Images

One door closes, another one opens. Well, that's the saying and Jeremie Boga has certainly experienced it this summer.

With Charly Musonda picking up an injury before Chelsea's tour, it meant Boga was well-placed for some game time. Then when Pedro got clattered by Arsenal goalkeeper David Ospina, he was presented with an opportunity to play close to 90 minutes for the Blues.

Boga did himself justice in that game, causing problems in attack and proving a nuisance for the Gunners back line.

Could Conte have seen something unexpected with the young Ivorian?

        

5. Mario Pasalic

SINGAPORE - JULY 24: Cesc Fabregas #4 and Mario Pasalic of Chelsea FC competes for the ball during a Chelsea FC International Champions Cup training session at National Stadium on July 24, 2017 in Singapore.  (Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images  f
Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images

The Croatian midfielder signed for Chelsea three years ago, but he hasn't been anywhere near the first team in that time. That said, he's gradually built momentum with loan moves to Elche, AS Monaco and, last season, AC Milan.

They've given him plenty of experience and with the Blues looking low on numbers in central midfield, Pasalic could find himself in the right place at the right time. Outside of Cesc Fabregas, N'Golo Kante and Tiemoue Bakayoko, there isn't anyone else to challenge at Stamford Bridge, espcially as Nemanja Matic's future is unclear.

Pasalic could be one of a few loan stars forcing their way into the reckoning at Chelsea this season.

           

4. Charly Musonda

SINGAPORE - JULY 23: Charly Musonda Jr of Chelsea FC arrives at Jet Quay Private Terminal ahead of the International Champions Cup on July 23, 2017 in Singapore. (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images for ICC)
Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

The internet was abuzz when Musonda was confirmed as Chelsea's new No. 17 for this season. It's just a squad number, we know, but the fact he was given the shirt before pre-season had even started was a strong indication that Conte believes he can offer this Blues side something.

There's long been hope Musonda would breakthrough in the Chelsea first team. He was a star in the academy and played a big part in the team's youth cup and European successes.

Injury has stunted his chances this summer, but he's on the comeback trail and looks like a player with the determination to make it at Stamford Bridge.

        

3. Loic Remy

SINGAPORE - JULY 25: Loic Remy of Chelsea FC looks during the International Champions Cup match between Chelsea FC and FC Bayern Munich at National Stadium on July 25, 2017 in Singapore.  (Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images for ICC)
Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images

Now, here's a surprise. Who would expect Loic Remy to be ranked so high in our list of players to be getting game time in 2017/18 at Chelsea? We hear you: very few. But look at the facts.

With Diego Costa nowhere to be seen this summer, Conte has just Alvaro Morata and Michy Batshauyi to choose from. For a club that wants to make an impact in the Champions League and also successfully defend the Premier League title, two strikers isn't enough.

Unless Conte can sign another frontman, Remy is an ideal option if he can keep himself fit. He missed much of 2016/17 because of injury, meaning a loan spell to Crystal Palace never worked out.

However, he showed in his debut campaign at Chelsea he can offer something in a supporting role. He's not a glamorous name, but he will be useful as a squad player.

           

2. Lewis Baker

SINGAPORE - JULY 23:  (L-R) Andreas Christensen and Lewis Baker of Chelsea FC arrive at Jet Quay Private Terminal ahead of the International Champions Cup on July 23, 2017 in Singapore.  (Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images  for ICC)
Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

His two years at Vitesse Arnhem have seen Lewis Baker become a hot property. Just ask Chelsea's youth coaches and they will tell you that they've known it all along. He has been one of the best players to come out of the Chelsea academy in recent years.

With so much senior football these past couple of seasons—and not just that, he also became a key player at Vitesse—Baker is well and truly knocking on the door at Stamford Bridge.

The question is where to play him. Does Baker become an understudy to Cesc Fabregas? Or can Conte play him further forward as one of the attackers supporting a lone striker?

Truth be told, Baker has the ability to do both. He's an exceptional young talent and deserves an opportunity.

         

1. Andreas Christensen

BEIJING, CHINA - JULY 22:  Donyell Malen of Arsenal takes a shot against Andreas Christensen of Chelsea during the Pre-Season Friendly match between Arsenal FC and Chelsea FC at Birds Nest on July 22, 2017 in Beijing, China.  (Photo by Yifan Ding/Getty Im
Yifan Ding/Getty Images

From Baker to Andreas Christensen, another Chelsea loanee to benefit from two seasons with one club. While at Borussia Monchengladbach, he was exposed to regular Champions League football and found himself becoming an influential player.

Now back at Chelsea, he returns at the ideal moment. Conte prefers to utilise a back three, and considering the Denmark international's ability on the ball, it's a system that's made for him to flourish.

If Chelsea don't return to the transfer market this summer for another defender, Christensen will benefit greatly, knowing chances will be there for him to play and impress.

He may well show himself to be the future of Chelsea's back line.

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