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Tomas Kalas during the match between Portsmouth and Chelsea at Fratton Park, Portsmouth, July 2011.

Where are they now? Chelsea’s 28 wonderkids from Football Manager 2014

Chelsea had a host of talented youngsters on their books 10 years ago, but what has become of them? We’ve done some digging to find out.

Back in 2013, Chelsea had just entered Jose Mourinho’s second spell in charge and boasted a stacked squad including Eden Hazard, John Terry and David Luiz. They’d finish third in the league and lost in the semi-finals of the Champions League.

But the future of the club looked bright, with a number of immensely talented youngsters at the club. Here are Chelsea’s 28 wonderkids from Football Manager 2014 and where they are today.

Jamal Blackman

Blackman never made a first-team appearance in a decade at Stamford Bridge and had eight loan spells while with the former European champions, including a short stint at US side Los Angeles FC.

“In my position I feel like I’m still growing as a goalkeeper,” he said in 2022.

“I’ve still got things to learn, things to improve on and I feel like I’ve got a few more years in me left to play and try and reach the top.

“I’m obviously looking forward to seeing what happens in my career and obviously seeing where I can get to.”

After impressing at Exeter City, Blackman earned himself a move to Burton Albion this summer.

Matej Delac

Czech goalkeeper Delac signed for the Blues as a 17-year-old from his boyhood club Inter Zapresic in 2009, but never made a first-team appearance.

To be filed alongside Lucas Piazon and Lewis Baker as curious players perennially out on loan away from Chelsea, he was technically their longest-serving player when he left in 2018, nine years and 10 loan stints after first joining.

He’s now with Danish Superliga outfit AC Horsens.

Andreas Christensen

Christensen, who joined Chelsea from Brondby at the age of 15, struggled under Maurizio Sarri and Frank Lampard but rediscovered his best form under Thomas Tuchel.

Plenty of Stamford Bridge regulars were sad to see him leave for Barcelona in the summer of 2022, especially as he formed part of a backline that conceded just 20 goals en route to the La Liga title this season.

He’s only 27 too. Definitely one that got away.

Tomas Kalas

The Czech centre-half never quite made it at Chelsea, but he’ll always be fondly remembered by Blues fans for a solid performance away at Liverpool – the game made infamous by Steven Gerrard’s slip – in one of only two Premier League appearances for the club.

Kalas put in a strong performance to keep a clean sheet against a front three of Raheem Sterling, Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho.

After impressing on loan at Bristol City, he became the Robins’ club-record signing in the summer of 2019, making his switch permanent for a fee of £8million.

Kalas moved to Schalke 04 this summer, as the German giants aim to return to the Bundesliga.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers speak on the touchline, Anfield, Liverpool, April 27 2014

READ: Where are they now? Chelsea’s XI from the ‘Gerrard slip’ win at Anfield

Dion Conroy

Conroy spent eight years at Chelsea but never made the breakthrough into their first team and was sold to Swindon Town in 2017.

He was named captain of the Wiltshire side in 2019, despite struggling with injury problems, and went on to make 113 appearances for the club.

The defender was transferred to Crawley Town in 2022 and is still with the League Two outfit.

Kenneth Omeruo

Having earned 60 caps for Nigeria, Omeruo clearly has something about him but he never made the grade at Chelsea.

In fact, the defender can be filed in the ‘perennial loanee’ camp at Chelsea, having spent six different stints at five different clubs while on the club’s books between 2012 and 2019.

Omeruo never played for the Blues and eventually signed for Spanish side Leganes. After five years at the club, including a spell as captain, he joined Kasimpasa in Turkey this summer.

Wallace

Chelsea’s loan approach is a minefield, but a continued recruitment of uncapped South Americans is an element we’re still trying to get our heads around.

Joining from Fluminense in 2013, Wallace never made a first-team appearance for the Blues but was loaned out on four separate occasions before leaving for Figueirense six years later.

Now 29, the full-back is back in Brazil with Sampaio Correa-RJ.

Todd Kane

‘Not related to Harry’ Kane was part of Chelsea’s squad for the 2012 Champions League final, but was eventually released in 2019 having failed to play a single game for the club.

He’s since played in the Championship with Preston and Coventry, but will spend the 2023-24 campaign aiming to fire Charlton Athletic back into the second tier.

Nathan Ake

It’s easy to forget that Ake was once a Chelsea player, but there was a time when he was on the edge of breaking through to the first team.

The Netherlands international joined Chelsea at 15 and made a few appearances for the London side, being named Young Player of the Season in 2013.

But after that promising start, Ake couldn’t quite hold down a permanent role, beginning to be loaned out in 2015 before becoming Bournemouth’s record-ever signing in 2017.

He went on to make over 100 appearances for the Cherries before leaving for City. It’s safe to say that the move has paid off for the centre-back…

Nathaniel Chalobah

Trevoh Chalobah became an instant fan favourite under Thomas Tuchel and remains at Chelsea to this day. Older brother Nathaniel never quite managed that, having been sent out on a series of loans before eventually signing for Watford in 2017.

After struggling with injuries in his first couple of years at Vicarage Road, Chalobah helped Watford win promotion in 2021 and repeated the feat with Fulham 12 months later.

He’s now back in the Championship with West Brom.

Mario Pasalic

Remember him? We forgive you if not, as the Croatian was a member of Chelsea’s loan army who never actually played for the club, eventually joining Atalanta permanently in the summer of 2020 after a two-year loan.

But Pasalic has been incredibly successful at the Serie A upstarts, scoring 25 goals since the start of 2020-21 and becoming a fixture in the Croatia squad too.

Seriously, Chelsea could probably do with a midfielder of his creativity right now.

Josh McEachran

McEachran was Chelsea’s biggest hope a decade ago and many felt he was destined to become the next Frank Lampard.

“I used to watch Frank a lot in training every day and he talked to me a lot. I aspire to be a player like him,” McEachran stated in 2012.

But, while the Football Manager version of McEachran became a world-beating midfielder, the 30-year-old plays for Oxford United in League 1 in reality.

Anyone who built their Champions League-winning side around him will be feeling underwhelmed by how it’s all panned out.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Hampered by injury problems, Loftus-Cheek moved to AC Milan this summer and has already registered two assists in his first three Serie A outings.

“After I played against them in the Champions League, Milan said they were interested in me. I was not thinking too much about it,” Loftus-Cheek told DAZN.

“There was a lot of the season left at Chelsea, but towards the end, things changed. Milan have always been a great club, after speaking with [Stefano] Pioli, I was convinced to come here.

“He wants me to be physically dominant in midfield. I think one of my characteristics is the ability to overcome many players with strength, speed and power.

“It is something I rely on a lot that is my contribution as a player. The more I can show that on the pitch, the more dominant I can be to help the team.”

Cristian Cuevas

With a name like someone you’ve signed on every edition of Football Manager, Cuevas was loaned out to the Netherlands, Chile and Belgium during his four years at Chelsea.

He returned to his native Chile to join Huachipato permanently, but even they resorted to loaning him out to FC Twente and Austria Wien. He’s now at  Universidad Catolica in the same country.

Still, he has an actual cap for Chile.

Bertrand Traore

Traore was first linked with a move to Chelsea in 2010 from Auxerre but it was 2013 when he finally joined the club’s academy.

He was loaned to Vitesse and Ajax before making 10 league appearances for Chelsea, scoring twice.

Traore then spent three years with Lyon, impressing enough to earn a £17million switch to Aston Villa in 2020. After a slow start, he scored some crucial goals last season and remains a part of Unai Emery’s squad.

Jeremie Boga

Boga joined the Chelsea academy in 2009 and spent a total of nine years at the club. Throughout those nine years, he only made one first-team appearance.

He left the club on a permanent basis in 2018 to pursue a career in Italy with Sassuolo. After impressing with them and Atalanta, the winger is now playing for Nice in Ligue 1.

Marco van Ginkel

Van Ginkel suffered a serious knee injury early into his Chelsea career which ruled him out for seven months, before prolonged loan spells at AC Milan, Stoke and PSV.

Amazingly, the midfielder only left Stamford Bridge permanently in 2021 when he joined PSV. He now plays for Vitesse.

Lewis Baker

Baker was earmarked by Jose Mourinho as a future England international, but never managed to escape the purgatory of the Chelsea loanee experience.

But in January 2022, he finally, at the age of 26, managed to get a permanent move away, signing for Stoke.

It’s going pretty well – Baker has knocked in 16 goals and notched seven assists in 69 club appearances. He might never have made it at Chelsea, but he seems to have found a home.

Lucas Piazon

Ten years, eight loans, three senior first-team appearances; Piazon’s spell at Chelsea summed up their approach to youth development in the Abramovich era.

Chelsea initially signed the promising young Brazilian from Sao Paulo in 2011, but he was only eligible for a work permit to start in January 2012. All three of his Chelsea appearances came under Rafa Benitez, before a series of endless loans.

He finally left Stamford Bridge in the summer of 2021, joining Braga where he remains to this day.

Charly Musonda

The most promising of the three Belgian brothers Chelsea brought over Anderlecht in 2012, eldest sibling Charly Musonda never made it past the periphery at Stamford Bridge and could never quite escape the loan carousel.

The 26-year-old winger signed for Levante last summer and turned out alongside Roberto Soldado and Shkodran Mustafi in the Spanish second tier. He’s currently unattached.

Chelsea's Papy Mison Djilobodji during the Barclays Premier League match at the White Hart Lane, London. 29 November 2015.

READ: Ranking Chelsea’s 25 weirdest signings of the Premier League era

Thorgan Hazard

The brother of Eden Hazard didn’t make the same impact at Stamford Bridge (or any, considering his zero first-team appearances), but has gone to enjoy a stellar career in the Bundesliga with Borussia Monchengladbach and Borussia Dortmund.

Now 30, he’s returned to his native Belgium and plays for Anderlecht.

Charlie Colkett

Colkett led the Blues to successive FA Youth Cup victories and back-to-back Uefa Youth League titles, but he was one of many graduates from a prodigiously successful academy who never played for the senior team.

“Mentally, it was one of the toughest times of my life, going from place to place and being told go here, go there, this will be the one, this will be the one,” he told the BBC in 2019.

“You believe that it’s the process and you trust it, but you don’t always get the fair opportunity or the right move. [While on loan] I gave my absolute everything, every day, but for some reason it wasn’t enough.

“I just worked harder and did everything absolutely correctly to give myself every chance to be recognised. But there was no light at the end of the tunnel.”

He’s now playing for Crewe Alexandra in League Two, but his time at Gresty Road has been hampered by injuries.

Victorien Angban

Angban never played for Chelsea, but they were still able to sell him to Metz for £5million in 2019. Some serious witchcraft has gone on at Stamford Bridge over the years.

He moved to Sochi in 2021 and recently extended his contract with the Russian side until 2026 despite the country’s exile from continental and international football.

Romelu Lukaku

The striker is only 30, yet has scored 77 goals in 110 appearances for Belgium, scored over 280 goals in his club career, commanded approximately £300million in transfer fees and was named Serie A Footballer of the Year after firing Inter to their only Scudetto of the last 12 years.

Yet Manchester United and Chelsea fans will tell you Lukaku is rubbish. Swings and roundabouts. He’ll be hoping to kickstart his career at Roma this year.

Stipe Perica

Chelsea signed Perica as a 16-year-old from Croatian outfit Zadar in a €2.5million deal, but you won’t be surprised to hear he never appeared for the club.

Since leaving Stamford Bridge, the striker has played for the likes of Udinese, Watford, Maccabi Tel-Aviv and current club Standard Liege. That’s not bad.

Joao Rodriguez

Rodriguez became the first Colombian to sign for Chelsea when he joined the club in 2013, but his spell at Stamford Bridge followed the same pattern as many other youngsters with numerous loan spells and zero first-team appearances.

He’s now playing for Los Chankas in Peru, which sounds pretty cool to us.

Islam Feruz

In early 2013, Chelsea’s official website described Feruz as: “short but sharp with an electric turn of pace and able to get a shot in early.”

That didn’t help him break into the first team though; he left without making a single competitive appearance and now plays in Serbia for Radnicki Nis.

Izzy Brown

“My conscience tells me that if, for example, [Lewis] Baker, [Izzy] Brown, and [Dominic] Solanke are not national team players in a few years, I should blame myself,” Jose Mourinho said whilst on Chelsea’s pre-season tour in 2014.

Sadly, things have gone quite differently for Brown, who showed great promise as a youngster out on loan in Huddersfield’s promotion-winning 2016-17 campaign, but suffered horrendous luck with injuries.

He was eventually released by Chelsea in 2021 and went on to sign a one-year deal at Preston North End but failed to make a single appearance for the club.

In April he announced his retirement at the age of 26.

“Everything is new to me now,” Brown told The Athletic after reaching the decision.

“The world is new now I’m not seeing it from a football perspective. I can go and enjoy things I’ve never been able to enjoy before and go to places I never got a chance to go to. I’m going to take some time for myself and have a think if I want to be involved in football again.

“Football was my dream. It still is my dream. But dreams have to end one day.”


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