Where are they now? Chelsea’s past Academy Player of the Year winners
Billy Gilmour is the latest recipient of Chelsea‘s Academy Player of the Year award – but what have the previous five winners gone on to achieve since?
Chelsea are renowned for their youth talent spotting, and though they are equally known for loaning lots of these players out rather than making use of them themselves, that has started to change.
Here’s how their five previous Academy Players of the Year have fared since earning the honour.
2015: Dominic Solanke
Solanke was awarded the inaugural Chelsea Academy Player of the Year award after scoring 41 goals during the 2014-15 season, when he also made his debut for the first team as a late substitute in a 6-0 win over Maribor in the Champions League.
He spent the next season on loan at Vitesse and finished as their third highest goalscorer with seven goals from 25 games, returning to Stamford Bridge to fight for a place in 2016-17 only to fail to make a single first-team appearance all season.
He joined Liverpool at the end of his contract in 2017 but scored only once in 27 games before somehow being sold to Bournemouth for a reported £19million. At the time of writing he has four goals from 36 appearances for the Cherries.
2016: Fikayo Tomori
Tomori won the award after scoring in the Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League final wins in 2015-16, making his first-team debut as a 60th-minute substitute in the final game of that season.
He didn’t play again for the first team in the first half of the following campaign and so joined Brighton in January 2017, making 10 appearances, before consecutive season-long loan spells at Hull and Derby.
The second of those was particularly productive under Frank Lampard, and when the Chelsea legend returned to Stamford Bridge as manager in 2019, he decided to keep Tomori around, with the defender scoring twice in 22 appearances in 2019-20.
2017: Mason Mount
Mount captained the Youth Cup side to a fourth consecutive success in 2017 and finished a fantastic season by setting up England’s winner in the Under-19 European Championship, where he was named the tournament’s best player.
He joined Vitesse on loan that summer and scored an outstanding 14 goals, helping them qualify for the Europa League, being named their Player of the Season and even being invited to train with the England senior squad.
Like Tomori, he then spent 2018-19 on loan at Lampard’s Derby, contributing a combined 16 goals and assists before returning to Stamford Bridge to sign a new five-year contract and then enjoying a hugely impressive breakthrough campaign with the Blues.
— Mason Mount (@masonmount_10) August 18, 2020
2018: Reece James
James won the award after captaining the Under-18s to yet another Youth Cup triumph in 2017-18, signing a four-year contract that summer and then joining Wigan on loan for the season.
He impressed so much at the DW Stadium that he won the Fans’ Player of the Year award with 96% of the votes, as well as the Players’ Player of the Year and Goal of the Season awards, scoring three goals from 46 appearances in total at either right-back or in central midfield.
He was also named in the Championship Team of the Season and so was unsurprisingly kept around by Lampard for the 2019-20 campaign in which he made 37 appearances in all competitions, becoming the club’s youngest ever Champions League goalscorer when completing their comeback in a 4-4 draw against Ajax.
In January 2020, he signed a long-term contract extension to commit his future to the club.
2019: Conor Gallagher
Gallagher is still waiting for his first-team debut at Chelsea, but the midfielder made a big impression on loan at Charlton in the first half of 2019-20, scoring six times from midfield, before being recalled to be sent out on loan to a team higher up the Championship in Swansea.
He impressed there too, providing six assists in 21 games, and as a player who believes he is best as a box-to-box midfielder and grew up idolizing Lampard, he certainly has the right manager to help him progress in the coming years.