The last Chelsea player to graduate from their academy and become a first team regular was John Terry. Terry made his debut on 28 October 1998 as a substitute against Aston Villa in the League Cup. However, it wasn’t until the 2000/01 season that he began to establish himself in the Chelsea first team.
Chelsea have invested tens of millions into their academy since then and it is startling to see that not one graduate has become a first team regular since Terry in 2000/01. Players such as Gaël Kakuta, Josh McEachran, Nathaniel Chalobah and Michael Mancienne have graduated since then with high expectations but have failed to break into the first team.
It is now 15 seasons since a Chelsea graduate became a first team regular. So the question is, can any of the current graduates make the grade? Tammy Abraham could be the long-awaited beacon of light in Chelsea’s wasteland of youth development.
The 19-year-old striker has had an electric first two months of the season on loan at Championship side Bristol City. The teenager has scored a remarkable 13 goals in 15 games for club and country so far this season after his brace for England Under-21s against Bosnia & Herzegovina earlier in the week.
Not since Romelu Lukaku‘s loan spells at West Bromwich Albion and Everton have Chelsea had a striker who has managed to raise his profile as dramatically as Abraham has over the space of a few months.
What we all have to remember is that this is the 19-year-olds first full season as a professional having only just graduated from Chelsea’s academy this year. Those that have been following Abraham’s progress won’t be surprised though as he scored 72 goals in 101 appearances for the Chelsea academy and he is held in high regard at Stamford Bridge.
Abraham’s thrilling start to this season suggests he will return to Stamford Bridge with an enhanced reputation next summer. Can he be the one to buck the trend and become the first Chelsea graduate since John Terry to become a first team regular? That is something that only time will tell.
However, the club’s approach in the transfer market of buying ready made names (due to the pressure for instant success) could prove to be main obstacle irrespective of his talent. If that is the case there will be plenty of suitors ready to take him on loan or prise him away from Stamford Bridge permanently.