Chelsea’s policy of signing every young player in the world has divided opinion for years. The Blues sign ‘Next Big Thing’ after ‘Next Big Thing’, but rarely do the players actually make an impact on the team.
For a club with such a successful academy, their ability to churn out one disappointing youngster after another never ceases to amaze.
Here are seven former starlets who failed to make the grade at Stamford Bridge.
Back in 2007, there were few young players as exciting as Gael Kakuta. The Frenchman was a sure-fire success, and countless Ballon d’Or awards were almost certain to follow. ?Chelsea were hit with a hefty fine and transfer ban for their pursuit of Kakuta, such was the excitement around him. If only things worked out even close to that.
He made his debut in 2009, and the sky was the limit for Kakuta. However, Chelsea struggled to make a place for him in the first team, and he was instead loaned out to the likes of ?Fulham and ?Bolton Wanderers, as well as a seemingly-mandatory spell with Vitesse, but he failed to impress with any of them.
He was released in the summer of 2015 and, after a spell in China, now turns out for Rayo Vallecano.
Now 27, it seems unlikely that we’ll see Kakuta lifting the Ballon d’Or any time soon.
Josh McEachran was supposed to lead England out at multiple World Cups, just ask any Chelsea fan. The midfielder was one of the most hyped products of the club’s academy in history, and they fought off interest from ?Real Madrid to keep him.
He even looked to be making it as a first-team star, but Andre Villas Boas had other ideas when he joined the club in 2011. He froze the midfielder out, before McEachran was forced to go out on loan to five clubs. He ended up being sold for a six-figure sum in 2015.
The 26-year-old now plays his football for ?Brentford, and while that is a step down from Chelsea, you can bet he’s delighted finally able to spend more than one season at a club.
The story of ?Bertrand Traore is still a bitter pill to swallow for Chelsea fans. When he officially joined the club in 2014, he was one of the most exciting prospects at the club. In early 2016, Traore netted four goals in five matches, and looked to be a star of the future.
However, many felt he was not the finished product, and he was sent on loan to Ajax for the 2016/17 season. He endured a mixed season, but helped the Eredivisie side to the Europa League final before securing a €10m move to Lyon in 2017.
The 23-year-old has enjoyed several impressive seasons in France, leaving many fans dreaming of what could have been. Did he under-perform, or was he simply not given enough chances to prove himself?
One of the most prolific strikers in the history of youth football, Dominic Solanke did all he good to earn himself a place in the Chelsea first team. ?He scored goals without breaking a sweat, but it still wasn’t enough for him at Stamford Bridge.
He made just one appearance for Chelsea, coming in the 2014/15 ?Champions League, before running his contract down and securing a move to ?Liverpool.
However, after netting just once in 27 appearances, Jurgen Klopp sold Solanke to ?Bournemouth for £19m in January. He made his debut for the Cherries a few weeks later, but is still looking for his first goal.
Brazil has produced some great players in history. The likes of Pele, Ronaldinho and Kaka have contributed to their successful history, but Lucas Piazon was better than them all…or at least he was supposed to be. The Blues won the race for his signature in 2011, and fans were in tears of joy over what the future could hold.
He made his debut in 2012, but was given just three games to showcase his skills, before Chelsea decided to add him to the loan army, which usually signals the end of their time at the club.
Believe it or not, Piazon is still a Chelsea player. The 25-year-old joined Chievo Verona on loan in January, but his days as part of the Chelsea setup are surely coming to an end soon.
20 – Slobodan Rajkovic
– Foi contratado em junho de 2007, sem expectativas por parte da torcida, e não agradou. Ficou no clube até 2011 e jogou apenas uma partida pelo Chelsea. pic.twitter.com/Os6f2H1Fqu
— Chelsea News BR ?? (@Chelsea_InfoCFC) January 15, 2019
Imagine a combination of John Terry and Nemanja Vidic. That was a 16-year-old Slobodan Rajkovic, and Chelsea did not hesitate to shell out €2m to sign the youngster in 2005. This kid could play, and he was destined for the top.
He spent plenty of time on loan in the Eredivisie as Chelsea simply could not obtain a work permit for the Serb. They tried for six years, but eventually gave up on him in 2011, selling him to Hamburger SV for the same amount which they paid for him in the first place.
Rajkovic currently turns out for Serie B side Palermo, and he has certainly fallen out of the limelight. People have even stopped updating his Wikipedia page, and it seems as though the world has forgotten about the unfortunate Serb.
After establishing himself as one of England’s brightest prospects on loan with ?Watford in the 2012/13 season, the future looked bright for Nathaniel Chalobah. So Chelsea rewarded him in the only way they knew how – by sending him on a handful of pointless loans.
He found minutes hard to come by almost everywhere he went, including a frankly ludicrous spell with ?Napoli. After five wasted years, Chalobah’s career went full circle as he secured a permanent move back to Watford.
Somehow still just 24, Chalobah is still on the books at Vicarage Road, where injuries have derailed his career. He has made just 21 appearances in two years, but still has plenty of time to come good.