Chelsea are taking steps to give themselves a major advantage over their Premier League rivals when it comes to recruiting the country’s top young national talent by effectively creating a regional succession club.
Chelsea have been ahead of the game when it comes to academic football for several years, which is reflected in their dominance of the FA Youth Cup – seven trophies in nine seasons between 2009 and 2017 – and two UEFA Youth League titles in the 2010s.
But the impact of Brexit is changing the way teams run their youth programs. English clubs are now subject to full FIFA rules and can no longer sign foreign players under the age of 18, having previously enjoyed the advantage of being able to sign EU nationals from the age of 16.
Chelsea had taken advantage of this in the past, allowing them to sign and develop figures like Nathan Ake, Andreas Christensen, Charly Musonda and other foreign talents.
But with that avenue closed until players are older, Chelsea are turning to British talent, with the Daily Mail reporting that the Blues want to increase their scouting presence in the domestic market, which is now set to become more competitive than ever. .
Although formal partnerships with “foster clubs” are not allowed, Chelsea are said to have developed an informal relationship with Newcastle City Juniors, a youth club with a prolific record of professional player development – 56 of their former talents. continued to sign pro contracts.
Chelsea are also expected to wait until the players are 14 before they can sign any of the Newcastle club’s talents to their own academy due to rules on how far youngsters can be from home. But having their foot in the door could give them a first glimpse of the northeast’s best emerging prospects.
One of the ways Chelsea builds rapport is by loaning Newcastle City Juniors a camera to record practices and games, allowing the Blues to keep a distant eye on developing players.
But Newcastle won’t be their only regional presence and a similar relationship is said to have developed in Bristol as well. In due course Chelsea will likely want to listen to the pitch, so to speak, all over the UK and be in close contact with youth clubs in every major region.
Likewise, Chelsea won’t be the only ones trying to spot every aspect of the UK market in more detail than ever before, as the attention of young people has no choice but to focus on domestic players. Brighton and Southampton are two others who are said to be looking for scouts in the north-east in particular.
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