With the new arrivals, have Chelsea missed the boat?

Eden Hazard’s arrival at Chelsea this summer was a signing of intent and ambition. The Marko Marin signing, while a little perplexing at this time, was also to strengthen the core of the squad, focusing again on youth. And now with the possible arrival of Oscar from Internacional, the aging European champions are becoming an exciting, energetic and technically excellent team. Success is possible, but something fresh and adventurous on the pitch is even more likely. The goal seems simple: Snap up the best young stars available and form a dynasty—even if it is to the detriment of one of the club’s most promising youngsters.

It wasn’t too long ago that Josh McEachran was likened to Jack Wilshere at Arsenal. An academy graduate who was excelling at the game and who would likely be a regular in the England setup sooner than later. However, the new arrivals at Chelsea and the ambition to build on the successes of last season has shifted the focus even further away from youth development. There is a great concern that McEachran may never get a real chance at Chelsea.

Even though his impact at any stage has not been as significant as Wilshere’s, McEachran has been one of the few bright sparks in English youth football. A player who looks comfortable on the ball and a possible candidate to fill one of the midfield roles in any ambitious side for many years. Yes it’s a lot of talk and there are always likely to be problems along the way. But unfortunately for the midfielder, it seems as though his club are sailing away from the desire to develop him into one of their own.

From a fans perspective, it’s always a great and uplifting sign that a club are moving ambitiously in the transfer market, clearly mapping out the next few years. But surely there should be a desire to develop your own and see the products of the clubs youth system succeeding on the big stage.

McEachran’s development has not been halted entirely by his parent club, however. The midfielder’s loan spell at Swansea was greatly disappointing, showing only one league start during the six-month loan. It’s a fair argument and a good one that Swansea’s midfield were outstanding throughout and achieving results. But at the very least, some action should have been taken to ensure McEachran wasn’t wasting half-a-season’s worth of his development on the bench.

It’s also a fair point to raise that Chelsea have indeed used their younger players at various stages last season. Although not their own, Daniel Sturridge has played his part, as has Ryan Bertrand—a surprise inclusion in the Champions League final. But where is the drive to build on that? Oriol Romeu looked like he was developing well whenever given a chance under Andre Villas-Boas, but his lack of inclusion was a concern later in the season.

McEachran’s career may not be sinking at this stage—he’s got plenty of open road ahead of him to continue his development. But this summer is an important one for him, whereby the club need to decide if he genuinely is in their plans. This is unlikely to be the last summer of ambitious spending by Chelsea, so does that equate to McEachran being pushed further down the ladder due to future arrivals? A loan move picked out of a hat is no good, either. If the youngster is to go on loan then it must be to a club who have a desire to aid in his development. Another season on the bench could bring a halt to his own ambitions of succeeding in the top-flight of football.

Chelsea’s intentions may be clear from within, and they may genuinely have no interest in McEachran going forward. But if that is the case, then a player touted as one of England’s best should not simply by pushed to the side. It sets the wrong example and it allows the country to further become entrenched in a cycle of false dawns and very little progression.

 


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