Chelsea’s golden generation has made its way into the first team this season, so let’s all sit back and enjoy it while it lasts.
For so long, Chelsea have relied on big spending, big superstars and big sales to stay ahead of its rivals in both the transfer and the trophy market. Frank Lampard has offset that curve this campaign, relying on the kids from Cobham to do the business against—for the most part—the Blues’ senior opponents.
This has often proved a wise decision by the manager whose professional career only came to its conclusion in 2017. A 2-0 win at home to Crystal Palace in early November pitted Lampard against Roy Hodgson, the most youthful and elderly managers in the division respectively, as Chelsea fielded their youngest ever starting XI in the Premier League. Who said you cannot win anything with kids?
Fikayo Tomori, Reece James, Mason Mount and goal scorers Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic took the average age of the side to just 24 years and 88 days. This record is likely to be broken in the foreseeable future with the resurgence of Callum Hudson-Odoi, the revival of Ruben Loftus-Cheek and the revelation of Billy Gilmour, the flying Scotsman having only recently celebrated his 19th birthday.
There is no better time to announce this group as the ‘golden generation’ of Chelsea Football Club. No doubt they will all be regulars under their fledgling boss—injuries permitted—despite the imminent arrival of the continent’s hottest properties. All of whom, with the exception of Gilmour, have been capped at senior international level, but even he has featured in every other age group. His call up is only inevitable. Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup, League Cup; Lampard’s starlets have seen it all, maturing them beyond their young years.
However, the fact a certain transfer ban has aided this promotion of youth cannot be ignored, especially now Roman Abramovich has flexed his financial muscles once again with the signings of Hakim Ziyech and the probable transfer of Timo Werner.
Blues fans have been sent into melt down with the news that Lampard is also keen on Kai Havertz from Bayern Leverkusen, the 21-year-old who has been breaking records in the Bundesliga this term. Not to mention the interest in Leicester City’s Ben Chilwell (22 years) and Said Benrahama (24) from Championship side Brentford.
Include Werner (24) and it becomes clear that, despite wielding a seemingly bottomless cheque book, Lampard will continue to prefer players he can mould and develop, rather than those at the peak of their powers. Ziyech is perhaps the exception to this rule.
Not since 1993/94 has Chelsea approached its set-up in a similar manner, rewinding to the days of Glenn Hoddle, who would consistently opt for a side aged average of 25 years or less. Interestingly, this was the era before Abramovich’s funds entered the fray, or a reliance of foreign imports at the club, both comparable to the beginning of Lampard’s tenure.
So, why not make the most of this sparkling assemble before they are inevitably disbanded? As much as it may pain Blues fans, the longer this squad is together and growing, the more interested parties will begin to circle. Hudson-Odoi has already been the focus of Bayern Munich’s attempt to snatch the forward from Stamford Bridge, with the fellow European giants likely to follow suit in the pursuit of prizing away any of the gems in Chelsea’s crown.