Blues youth can prosper in title chase

Monday 29th July 2013 21:28

Nathaniel Chalobah: Has a big future at Chelsea

Nathaniel Chalobah: Has a big future at Chelsea

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FanZoner Dylan Clive is more excited about Chelsea's young talent than the prospect of Wayne Rooney linking up with Juan Mata and Eden Hazard.

Despite every bone in my body yearning to be a professional footballer, pre-season is the one aspect of a player's life that I am happy to give a miss.

After a luxury holiday in the Caribbean or a few weeks partying on my own island off the coast of Dubai, the prospect of gruelling gym sessions and all-you-can-sweat fitness drills are really not that appealing.

It's all undoubtedly necessary and vital preparation for the upcoming season but, for once, I am not jealous of those heading to Chelsea's Cobham training complex.

That being said, once my athletic build and Michael Essien abs have returned, so too would my jealousy as the team jetted off for a tour of Asia. Of course, friendlies against smaller opposition with whole team substitutions don't always make for the greatest sporting spectacle but, on these occasions, results are not the most important things.

Pre-season is the opportunity for foreign fans to see their heroes in the flesh and for fantasy FIFA fixtures to become a reality, most notably Bournemouth playing host to Real Madrid and Monaco making the unlikely journey to Leicester.

Other than satisfying commercial demands and establishing that Chelsea are better at football than Indonesia, pre-season has been a valuable work-out to build up match fitness and identify some future prospects.

One of the most surprising has been the discovery of Bertrand Traore, the unlikely wonder kid from Burkina Faso who already has eight senior caps for the national side. If a work permit can be obtained he will certainly be one to look out for but, of course, only after the rite of passage loan move, most probably to Vitesse Arnhem.

The Dutch side have taken over the babysitting duties to promising Chelsea youngsters looking for first team action and a chance to impress. The link has seen players such as Kakuta, Kalas and Van Aanholt spending a year out on loan, while Marco van Ginkel has moved in the opposite direction, becoming Jose Mourinho's second summer signing at £8million.

Such is the friendship held between Roman Abramovic and Vitesse chairman Merab Jordania, Chelsea were even asked to advise on the appointment of their new manager.

As for our man on the touchline, Mourinho seems to have settled back into life at Chelsea with ease. But then what would you expect? The Portuguese tactician is back where he belongs and although much has changed since his 2007 departure, the fans are the same and so too is their love for the 'Special One'.

Since his return, he has moved quickly to secure the encouraging signings of Andre Schurrle and Van Ginkel, who will benefit from having all of pre-season to bond with their new team-mates and understand Mourinho's methods and style of play.

Likewise, the return of Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne has been equally as sensational. The immovable Belgian forward has continued his fine form from West Brom with four goals in pre-season, while De Bruyne was arguably our standout performer, scoring a memorable volley against a Malaysia XI but picking up an injury in the process.

The influx of promising young talent is the refreshing reality awaiting Chelsea fans at the start of the new season. It will be fascinating to see if Lukaku can take his chances; where De Bruyne will fit in; and how Van Ginkel is incorporated into Shed End chants but curiously it is the progress of Nathaniel Chalobah that I am most intrigued by.

Hopes are high for the young Englishman, who can operate in a holding midfield role as well as at the heart of defence. After a successful loan at Watford (where he scored that goal against Leicester), Chalobah must now prove himself in the Premier League.

Mourinho has already stated his belief that Chalobah will be a big player at Chelsea in the coming years and that a loan move would be most beneficial for this season. The pressure and expectation is always greater when dealing with a home-grown talent but he is highly rated by the Chelsea backroom staff, widely tipped for great things and my pick of players to watch for the future.

To deal with the superstars of today is to look no further than Eden Hazard. He has had his season to acclimatise and given the freedom to express himself, I believe the Chelsea number 17 could scare defences sufficiently that a title challenge is not wishful thinking.

This is not to discount the likes of Juan Mata and David Luiz; they may have been the subject of much rumour and negative press but I fully expect them to play an integral part in a successful season. Bayern Munich can offer as much money as they like but under no circumstances should the charismatic Luiz be allowed to leave.

His versatility, flair and outstanding contribution to afros make him irreplaceable and one of the most popular players in the dressing room. For all intents and purposes he is a unique player in world football and any sale would be met with horror given his rapport with the Chelsea faithful.

The arrival of at least one new face seems inevitable. Rooney has already been the subject of a failed bid in a transfer saga that looks set to last well into August but in an ideal world, the likes of Falcao or Cavani would have better suited the blue of Chelsea.

Yet, to unearth the most suitable Chelsea frontman, look no further than a 25-year-old Gianfranco Zola. It's the ultimate piece of wishful thinking but his interplay with the three amigos would surely have seen them charged on counts of witchcraft and sorcery.

My eyes would not be worthy. I can only imagine it's what heaven looks like.

By Dylan Clive.

You can follow me on Twitter @DylClive and also don't forget to follow @FanZone on Twitter.

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