While Manchester United and Arsenal have produced some great players over the years, Chelsea’s academy is arguably the strongest in English football right now.
Thomas Tuchel’s side have several academy graduates playing in their first team and others are impressing at other clubs, either in England or abroad.
We’ve arranged an Xl of their academy graduates that are impressing in 2021-22, arranged in a 3-5-2 formation.
GK: Neil Etheridge
Admittedly, this inclusion really bends the rules but we didn’t have much choice.
Chelsea haven’t produced many great goalkeepers at Cobham, although that doesn’t really matter when you sign players like Petr Cech, Thibaut Courtois and Edouard Mendy.
Etheridge, who left Chelsea’s academy at the age of 16, has forged an impressive career in England’s lower leagues and is now playing for Birmingham City.
RWB: Reece James
Unlike the goalkeeper position, we had a plethora of good options to choose from when picking a right-back for this team.
Tariq Lamptey is regarded as one of the best young players in the Premer League and Valentino Livramento has made a promising start to his Southampton career.
But Reece James edges out both men, having registered five goals and six assists in 23 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea this season.
CB: Fikayo Tomori
Tomori enjoyed a promising breakthrough season at Chelsea in 2019-20 but fell out of favour following Thiago Silva’s arrival at Stamford Bridge.
He impressed during his loan spell at AC Milan in the second half of 2020-21, earning praise from club legends like Paolo Maldini and Franco Baresi.
The centre-back then completed a £24million move to Milan last summer and has carried on where he left off, helping Stefano Poli’s side to second in the current Serie A table.
His impressive form earned him a recall to the England squad in October 2021 and Chelsea must be regretting the decision not to include a buy-back clause when negotiating Tomori’s departure.
CB: Marc Guehi
After spending a season-and-a-half with Swansea City in the Championship, Guehi was expected to return to Chelsea but completed an £18million move to Crystal Palace in 2021.
The defender has become one of the first names on Patrick Vieira’s teamsheet, playing the full 90 minutes in all but one of their opening 20 Premier League games.
Alongside Virgil van Dijk, he’s the only other outfield player to have played over 1500 Premier League minutes this season and be dribbled past less than two times. The 21-year-old has also won 79% of his ground duels in 2021-22, more than any other player in Europe.
CB: Andreas Christensen
Christensen, who joined Chelsea from Brondby at the age of 15, struggled under Maurizio Sarri and Frank Lampard but has rediscovered his best form since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival.
The Denmark international played a key role in their Champions League success last season and is now a mainstay of the Chelsea defence.
He’s kept eight clean sheets in 17 starts in 2021-22 but looks set to leave Stamford Bridge on a free transfer at the end of the season with Barcelona reportedly leading the race for his signature.
LWB: Jeremie Boga
Boga just one 18-minute appearance for the Chelsea first team before being shipped off to Sassuolo in a £3.5million deal in the summer of 2018.
The Ivory Coast international registered three assists in 12 Serie A appearances this season and is also averaging 3.7 successful dribbles per 90 minutes.
His performances have convinced Atalanta to splash a club-record €22million fee on the 25-year-old this January.
CDM: Declan Rice
The one that got away.
Rice spent eight years in Chelsea’s academy but was ultimately deemed not good enough by the Blues’ coaches and got released in 2014.
He was then snapped up by West Ham and has since made those coaches look pretty foolish, establishing himself as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League.
The England international is reportedly valued at around £80million and has been linked with Manchester United and a return to Stamford Bridge.
Declan Rice! He kept going and going! 💨🍃
The West Ham skipper takes matters into his own hands, running all the way from inside his own half!
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) September 16, 2021
CM: Mason Mount
While the Chelsea coaches undoubtedly made a mistake with Rice, they kept faith in Mount and the Blues are now reaping the rewards.
The midfielder had loan spells at Vitesse and Derby County before enjoying a hugely impressive breakthrough campaign at Stamford Bridge in 2019-20
He’s since taken his game to another level under Tuchel, registering seven goals and five assists in 18 Premier League appearances so far this season.
CM: Conor Gallagher
After impressing in a poor West Brom side last season, Gallagher remained in the Premier League and joined Crystal Palace on a season-long loan deal.
The 21-year-old has been a breakout star in the Premier League in 2021-22, scoring six goals and also registering three assists for Palace.
“Conor has this passion for the game when he is on the field like a Ray Parlour, but I would say he has maybe the quality finishing of a Frank Lampard,” Vieira said in December 2021.
“It is a manager’s dream to have a player like Conor because when he is on the field, he will give everything. He is focused, concentrated and will always give his best. This is something that for me is really important.”
He’s yet to make his first-team debut for Chelsea but we doubt we’ll be able to say that for much longer.
SILLY SILLY FINISH CONOR GALLAGHER pic.twitter.com/eXp5VFdva2
— Dunc (@duncsagain) December 12, 2021
ST: Tammy Abraham
Abraham scored a respectable 21 goals in 58 Premier League appearances for Chelsea but was deemed surplus to requirements after Romelu Lukaku’s return to Stamford Bridge
The striker joined Jose Mourinho’s Roma in a £34million deal and has 14 goals in his first 27 appearances, including eight in Serie A.
He also enjoyed a productive return to the England squad, scoring in World Cup qualifiers against Andorra and San Marino.
What a goal!🔥
— Football on TNT Sports (@footballontnt) November 25, 2021
ST: Armando Broja
Broja left Chelsea on loan in search of regular first-team football and is spending 2021-22 at Southampton.
The striker was gradually eased into the team at the start of the season but has since registered five goals and an assist in eight Premier League starts.
He recently became the youngest player in Premier League history to score in each of his first four home starts and the first player to do so since former Chelsea striker Diego Costa.
The 20-year-old has also been making headlines with his performances at international level, scoring three goals for Albania in their World Cup qualifying campaign.
Substitutes: Nathan Ake, Tariq Lamptey, Valentino Livramento, Trevoh Chalobah, Billy Gilmour, Jamal Musiala, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Dominic Solanke.