Chelsea boss Antonio Conte wanted to play youngster Ruben Loftus-Cheek last season but – due to pressure from the Blues’ board – the Italian tactician felt it was too much of a risk, a report from the Telegraph has claimed.
According to the report, Conte revealed to his staff towards the end of last season that if he were to pick his team based on training sessions alone, Loftus-Cheek would have been a more regular name on the team sheet, along with another youngster
However, due to an apparent impatient win-at-all-costs mentality from the Chelsea hierarchy, Conte felt like it was too much of a risk to play the youngsters – despite his side having eventually won the Premier League title with a comfortable seven-point gap over second-placed Tottenham.
Instead, Loftus-Cheek was limited to just four Premier League appearances – all of which were substitute cameos which lasted no longer than 10 minutes. Ola Aina, on the other hand, made just one league appearance, as a 75th minute substitute.
At the start of the current campaign, Loftus-Cheek was hauled off on loan to Crystal Palace, while Ola Aina was also sent out on loan to Hull in the Championship.
Four players have a chance of hitting 20 goals in academy football this season at Chelsea ( #CFCDev, #CFCU19 and #CFCU18):
Charlie Brown: 18
Daishawn Redan: 17
Martell Taylor-Crossdale: 17
Callum’ Hudson-Odoi: 16
— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) March 31, 2018
Last season, the Blues won the FA Youth Cup, the U18 Premier League and the U18 Premier League Cup. However, despite having one of the best academies in England, Chelsea’s successful youngsters are rarely afforded an opportunity in the first team and are instead shipped out on loan.
The south London club had 38 players out on loan at the start of the 2016/17 campaign. That number has since decreased to 22 for this season.