Chelsea might not have made a spectacular start to life under club-legend Frank Lampard but the Blues have certainly attracted some admiring glances from one and all, thanks to an alteration in the club’s stance towards the handling of their academy products.
Ever since the dawn of the Roman Abramovich era at Chelsea, Stamford Bridge has turned into somewhat of a graveyard for promising young talents, with the club hierarchy more interested in forking out millions in the transfer window in quest for instant success.
No wonder, John Terry continues to be Chelsea’s last academy graduate who went on to become a cult hero at Stamford Bridge.
However, the recent transfer embargo, coupled with the arrival of Lampard from Derby County earlier in the summer, has witnessed a complete U-turn of events at Stamford Bridge, with the new manager making an arduous attempt to spark a change in the club’s system.
Indeed, Lampard’s attempts to bring about a youthful transition with the academy products have trimmed the size of the club’s infamous loan army this season.
However, more importantly, the manner in which some of the youngsters have grabbed their opportunities with both hands under the new manager certainly promises the beginning of a new era.
Despite Chelsea’s mediocre start to the campaign, Lampard’s gamble to rely on academy products like Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount has paid rich dividends so far, with the duo earning rave reviews for their impressive performances.
While Abraham went into the international break on the back of consecutive braces against Norwich City and Sheffield United, Mount has proven himself to be an influential presence in a No.10 attacking midfield role- a complete livewire in Lampard’s new high-pressing system.
Fikayo Tomori, who was on loan at Pride Park along with Mount last season, has also been handed with a few sporadic opportunities at the back and had it not been for the injury to Reece James, we could probably have seen yet another academy talent making the step up to the first-team in the Premier League this season.
James, though, is likely to get his opportunity later in the season when he returns to full fitness but another academy starlet who deserves to be monitored closely by the club following an impressive start to the season is Conor Gallagher.
The 19-year-old, who is currently out on loan at newly-promoted Championship side Charlton Athletic, has already made eyeballs turn in England’s second tier with a string of consistent performances, scoring thrice and assisting once in six league outings for the Addicks.
Truth be told, Gallagher, who moved to The Valley this summer for his first loan spell in his senior professional career, has quickly established himself has been one of the driving forces in Lee Bowyer’s side.
The teenager has caught the eye with his tireless work-rate, calmness and composure in possession, passing ability, commitment, stamina and willingness to close down the spaces in the middle of the park, whilst also demonstrating his ability to chip in with valuable goals and assists.
Additionally, the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup winner seems to have a real touch of class and finesse to do something special with the ball at his feet, something that you would not very often associate with combative players in the midfield.
Moreover, he has already demonstrated the versatility to slot into both No.8 and No.10 roles, which should make it easier for him to make the step up to Chelsea’s senior ranks in the foreseeable future.
Gallagher has been one of the cornerstones of Charlton’s fairytale start to the season and, while it might be too early to tout him for a breakthrough at Chelsea next term, Lampard should monitor his development closely over the course of the campaign.
Well, for the time bring, Gallagher needs to keep working hard and draw inspiration from the rise of Abraham and Mount to the first-team following impressive spells in the Championship.
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All in all, the 19-year-old looks like a special talent and he might eventually break his way into Lampard’s plans if the fountain of youth continues to flow at Stamford Bridge.
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