Michael Emenalo has defended Chelsea’s approach to youth development but admitted that many of the club’s Academy stars will not make it at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea, who currently have 33 players out on loan, have been accused of stockpiling young players with the aim not of developing them for themselves but of selling them on for huge profits.
Emenalo insists the hope is that every one of Chelsea’s young players will eventually be good enough for the first team, but he says there will be “no freebies” – the Blues will not give chances to any player until they are certain they are ready.
“We are not just packing them in and hoping a couple will make it,” Emenalo told the Sunday Telegraph. “We believe that all of them could make it but we know there are limited spaces and you have to prepare for that.”
It might be suggested that it is difficult for any young player to prove he is good enough for the Chelsea first team without being afforded the chance to actually play in it, but Emenalo says that is exactly why so many youngsters are currently out on loan.
Referring to 18-year-old Dominic Solanke, who is on loan at Vitesse Arnhem, Emenalo said: “Do you leave him here to play another year of Under-21s when he is clearly too good for it? Do you have him train with the first team and get minimal minutes?
“Do you send him to a Championship team and have him deal with balls in the air? With 35-year-olds much stronger than him in a system that does not suit the cerebral type of player we want here?
“Or do you send him to a place you know he will get minutes and will be educated the right way?”
Emenalo said of another 18-year-old, Tammy Abraham: “Should I keep him back next season just so you guys don’t criticise us for having 35 players on loan or should I allow Tammy to go somewhere and develop?
“Jose is telling me, ‘Fantastic player but he [Abraham] needs a loan’. We are not going to be afraid of these criticisms of the players out on loan because we are exactly sure of what we are doing.”
Emenalo did, however, admit that it is difficult for young players to get a chance ahead of experienced quality in their positions.
“There is a contradiction in expectations from people who don’t want the guys who are here ever to retire,” he said.
“They wanted [Frank] Lampard to play on, Ashley Cole to play on, [John] Terry to play on. Ryan Bertrand couldn’t wait so he had to leave because Ashley Cole was going nowhere. That’s one of the problems.”