Over the last few years, Chelsea have made a business out of turning top class potential into top class talent.
Indeed, the Blues’ controversial yet formidable farming operation currently has 34 players on loan at other clubs, all but two of which are aged 24 or younger, spanning eleven different countries and 13 different leagues.
Some, such as goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, eventually make the first team grade, but the vast majority are sold at significant profit after being cherry-picked from some of Europe’s best academies.
Kevin De Bruyne, for example, produced an £11million return on the club’s original investment after just two years at Stamford Bridge, making only three Premier League appearances in the process.
With that in mind, Football Fancast have decided to run the rule over some of the latest young hot shots reportedly in the Premier League champions’ transfer crosshairs.
Could one of these FIVE teenage prodigies become the next Courtois, De Bruyne or Romelu Lukaku?
Measuring in at a lofty 6 foot 3, Red Star Belgrade midfielder Marko Grujic has been compared to Chelsea’s Nemanja Matic in both stature and style.
The 19 year-old first drew attention whilst lifting the U20 World Cup with Serbia during the summer and has since been scouted by Manchester United – who watched the teenager net a 30-yard piledriver during last month’s Belgrade derby.
Some sources claim they’ve already got a year-long loan with Eintracht Frankfurt lined up for the 2016/17 campaign.
Last month, The Daily Star revealed Arsenal and Chelsea are both tracking FC Zurich prodigy Nishan Burkart.
The forward is just 15 years of age but has already been dubbed ‘the next Theo Walcott’, due to his blistering pace, netting prowess and equal comfort out wide or as a central striker.
The Swiss youngster will be legally allowed to move clubs once he turns 16 in January – just in time for a feisty battle of contract offers between the Premier League duo.
Chelsea are reportedly preparing a bid for Ruben Neves next summer and it’s not hard to see why the Premier League champions are so interested in the Porto prodigy.
The midfielder has already made himself a permanent fixture in the Dragons’ starting Xi at just 18 years of age, amassing 45 appearances across all competitions since his debut in August 2014 – including four Champions League outings this season.
In the process, Neves has become Porto’s youngest goalscorer in top flight history, the youngest player to ever represent Portugal at U21 level and the youngest ever captain in the history of the Champions League – wearing the armband during a 2-0 win over Maccabi Tel Aviv last month.
But Chelsea aren’t the only club drawn to Neves’ surprising maturity; Liverpool are also known admirers of the teenager midfielder, whose contract includes a £29million release clause.
According to The Daily Mail, Chelsea face three Premier League rivals in the race to sign Vitesse sensation Thomas Buitink.
The young striker is just 15 years old but has already been invited to train with the Dutch outfit’s senior squad after netting over 100 times for their various youth teams. He’s averaged over a goal per game since the start of the 2010/11 season.
Resultantly, interest in the Netherlands U17 is very high at the minute, with Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United all reportedly in the process of scouting him.
But Chelsea’s connection with Vitesse, a feeder club who currently have five Blues youngsters on loan, gives the west London outfit a unique advantage.
With Premier League’s top six filled with so many Belgium internationals at the moment, investing in the most exciting prospects the Jupiler League has to offer seems like a pretty smart strategy for England’s biggest clubs.
Resultantly, there’s a bit of a war going on for the signature of Anderlecht midfielder Youri Tielemans, with Premier League champions Chelsea at the heart of it.
The 18 year-old has already claimed back-to-back Young Player of the Year awards in the Belgian top flight and amassed 14 goals in 23 outings for Belgium across the youth levels – a particularly potent return for a midfielder
Having started the current campaign in similar form, bagging four strikes in 17 appearances, the £30million-rated prodigy seems almost certain to leave Constant Verdan Stock stadium at the end of the season.
Arsenal have been tracking Tielemans for some time but Chelsea and Manchester United reportedly held talks with his representatives last month over a move in summer 2016.