Chelsea's Bashir Humphreys controls the ball against Wrexham

6 Chelsea wonderkids hoping to impress Mauricio Pochettino in pre-season

Chelsea’s Cobham academy has developed a reputation for producing and nurturing some of the most exciting young talents in football, even if they all don’t get the chance to make the cut at Stamford Bridge.

There have been far too many instances of Chelsea getting impatient and perhaps being a bit too ruthless with their youth stars over the years, but with the club seemingly undergoing a hard reset and Mauricio Pochettino in the dugout, now is as good a time as ever for their youngsters to stake their claim ahead of the 2023-24 season.

The Blues’ squad has been trimmed considerably after being stacked full last season, but there are still a plethora of younger players waiting in the wings. We’ve identified six wonderkids who will be looking to force the manager’s hand with a strong pre-season showing.

Ian Maatsen

Fresh off the back of a sensational loan from Championship winners Burnley, Maatsen has returned to Chelsea with exceptionally high stock. And with their left-back position up in the air, it’s no wonder that Pochettino is reluctant to let him re-join the Clarets.

The Dutchman was electric in the second tier and has started brightly since returning to Chelsea. So much so that it could allow them to cash in on Marc Cucurella, who looks increasingly resigned to flop status after just one season in London.

Andrey Santos

Chelsea completed the signing of the teenage midfielder in January, before loaning him back to Vasco da Gama until the end of the English domestic season.

He’s now back among the Chelsea squad, though, and with Pochettino looking to rework his midfield, the 19-year-old Brazilian is one of several who could prove handy if the Blues are priced out of a move for Moises Caicedo.

Angelo Gabriel

Staying with promising Brazilians, Chelsea fans are already raving about new signing Angelo.

The 18-year-old has slotted in rather seamlessly and been crucial to several of Chelsea’s brightest moments in pre-season thus far, assisting Ben Chilwell and knitting one-touch play together with other teammates. A loan is probably likely, but a few more convincing cameos might just swing his manager.

Cesare Casadei

Casadei signed from Inter in 2022 and enjoyed a promising loan at Reading. He impressed massively for Italy at the under-20 World Cup, which we picked up on back in June.

Italy's Cesare Casadei, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring his side's opening goal against Colombia during a FIFA U-20 World Cup quarterfinal soccer match at the Bicentenario stadium in San Juan, Argentina, Saturday, June 3, 2023.

READ: Pochettino, rejoice! Chelsea’s latest wonderkid is tearing the U20 World Cup a new one

Bashir Humphreys

Humphreys has played a rather prominent role so far for Chelsea in pre-season, putting in positive performances against Newcastle and Wrexham.

An England under-20 international, a loan to Paderborn earlier this year combined with a strong showing at the U20 World Cup seems to have boosted his confidence and in turn helped along his development.

He made his full Chelsea debut in the FA Cup third round against Manchester City last season; a telling summary of his potential. With a full pre-season under his belt, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him break through and add some much-needed youth to Chelsea’s defence.

Gabriel Slonina

With Edouard Mendy sold to Saudi Arabia and Kepa still desperately trying to convince everybody that he’s a capable first choice, there is absolutely a window open for Slonina to potentially stake his claim under Pochettino.

He kept four consecutive clean sheets for the United States at the U20 World Cup before their exit and became the youngest-ever goalkeeper to represent the USMNT at senior level in January 2023. It’s fair to say that the 19-year-old has an obscenely high ceiling.

Breaking through as a goalkeeper is a difficult one, with the window of opportunity significantly smaller than any other position on the pitch. His stock is high, though, and Pochettno won’t hesitate to seek an alternative if Kepa can’t meet his demands; he’s had more than enough opportunities.

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