CHELSEA have one of the best youth academies in the world and, right now, we are witnessing the benefits of it in the senior squad.
The likes of Mason Mount and Reece James are consistently performing well and becoming essential first team players.
At a time where teams might be expected to use academy players more than usual in light of Covid-19 causing player shortages, as well as busy schedules, having a quality academy to call upon seems even more important.
So who will be the next Mount or James coming out of our famous academy at Cobham?
Here Chelsea fan Simon Phillips takes a look look at five academy wonderkids who could breakthrough into the senior squad in 2022.
Fresh out the Barcelona school of hard knocks, Mbuyamba already has the build and physical qualities to play in the Premier League, having matured beyond his years.
At the age of 19 he is coming up fast, and he has already been called up to train under Thomas Tuchel with the seniors on a number of occasions.
He is a great example of the modern day centre back – great with his feet, strong, fast, good in the air and calm in possession.
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Mbuyamba is one of those players that if he was bought into the senior team now and had to start a match, you would not have too many concerns.
He already has the competence to play at the top level if needs must, although the preference is to give him more time to develop.
Another youngster who has already been training a bit under Tuchel, and made his debut in the Carabao Cup clash against Brentford just before Christmas.
Vale has a big future ahead of him and he is one of those players who is already showing he has that extra bit about his game that could see him hit dizzy heights.
His versatility helps him a lot as well, being able to play in a number of different positions in midfield and attack.
Vale is just 18-years of age but again he already plays with a lot of maturity and confidence and can bring many assets to the pitch.
As with most of these Chelsea youngsters though, he is staying very grounded and has a good competitive head on his shoulders.
Vale has a great chance of being called up again by Tuchel in the coming months and is certainly one to look out for in 2022.
A bit of a wildcard this one, but Hall is a player who has really impressed me in the games I've watched him in this season.
Hall made the bench in the 2-0 Carabao Cup win against Brentford, but failed to make it onto the pitch.
He is still very young at 17, so it is a bold prediction for me to say he could breakthrough into the senior squad in 2022.
However, he is a player improving so fast and he has a wand of a left foot and plays with great intensity.
Hall has played mainly as a centre midfielder, but it's since switch to the left that I have really seen him shine.
He has a good work rate and can really put in a challenge and battle, but he also brings offensive quality and a lot of pace out wide.
I think he can certainly be classed as a big one to watch for the future.
Perhaps another more unknown name coming up, but Simons is a great No.6 option – tough in the tackle, good ball-player, and developing very well.
He too was trusted from the start in the cup against Brentford, making his Chelsea debut against his former club.
He’s only 18 but is rated highly at the club already, and I’m hearing rave reviews.
As with all these players, he has great technical ability and good on the ball, but again it his ability to put in a tackle and put himself about that could see him being adored by coaches like Tuchel, who loves a strong, battling mentality.
Expect him to be a name you will hear more of as time goes on, and he could be in for a shout to make more Chelsea senior squads if needed.
Another centre-back, and this guy has recently been described as the next John Terry by Chelsea academy scout Sean Conlon.
The comparisons are warranted as well, with his ability to play with both feet and a good reader of the game.
He has already become the U23s captain so his development is going well and moving along nicely.
He's a solid defender with a great physical presence already and at the age of 18 and the way he is developing, he is going to become some player in the near future.
A great collection of players to keep an eye on there, and all they need is one chance to shine, one chance to get on the bench under Tuchel and try and impress him.
Just look at the Trevoh Chalobah example.
Tuchel isn't afraid to give these academy guys a chance if they show their worth.
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