Football Features

From the German Messi to KDB: Highly-rated youngsters Chelsea just didn’t know what to do with

By Squawka News

Published: 17:30, 7 April 2022

Chelsea are currently one of the better clubs in the Premier League for handing meaningful minutes to younger players, both signed from abroad and coming through the academy.

Eleven of Chelsea’s 25 players to make a Premier League appearance this season were aged 25 or under at the start of the campaign, with five of those playing at least 1000 minutes. That number would be higher too, but the likes of Ben Chilwell, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic have had to deal with injury problems keeping them out for long periods.

Mason Mount is, unsurprisingly, at the top of that group when it comes to minutes played and only a handful of players have been used more in the Premier League this season at Chelsea. And it isn’t just this season, the likes of Reece James, Fikayo Tomori and Tammy Abraham have all had significant minutes at Chelsea in recent years, with the former one of their best players this season.

New Customers Only. First Single & E/W Bet Only. 5P Minimum Stake. Odds of 1/1 or Greater. 3 X £10 Bet Tokens. Free Bet Stakes Not Included in Returns. Free Bets Exclude Virtuals. Free Bets Are Non Withdrawable. Free Bets Expire After 30 Days. Eligibility Restrictions and Further T&CS Apply. 18+.

New Customers only Bet £10* & Get £30* in Free Bets. Sign up, deposit between £5* & £10* to your account & bet365 will give you three times that value in Free Bets when you place qualifying bets to the same value & they are settled. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits. Min odds/bet & payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. T&Cs, time limits & exclusions apply.

18+. New customers only. 3 days to claim and 7 days to place a qualifying bet to receive 4 x free bets. 1 x £10 Horse Racing, 1 x £10 Free Bet Builder, 1 x £10 Acca and 1 x £10 football. 7 day expiry. Exclusions apply. Stake not returned. T&Cs apply.

18+ New UK Customers. Must bet £10 in total on accas with 4+ legs, min odds 3/1 (4.0). £20 credited as 4x £5 Free Bets, valid for 7 days on selected bets only, stakes not returned. Restrictions & T&Cs apply.
Bet £30, get £5 in free bets T&Cs apply

This promotion is for new customers only. Customers must be 18+. Customers must be residents of the UK/IE. Sign Up using the promo code ‘b30g5′ and make a minimum deposit of £30. Place a minimum £30 bet on any selection with minimum odds of evens (2) and receive a £5 free bet upon bet settlement. Full terms & conditions apply.

18+ only. T&Cs apply.

Claim Here
Bet £10 get £50 in free bets T&Cs apply

Full T&Cs apply. New UK and ROI customers only. The qualifying bet should be a single bet, start at £/€10, and have 1.9 or greater odds. 5 Free bets include: 1 x £10 Free bet on horse racing, 1 x £10 Free bet on football, 2 x 10 Free bet in-play, 1 x £10 Free bet Acca. 7 day expiry.

18+ only. New customers only. T&Cs apply.

Claim Here
Get up to £70 in Free Bets for Cheltenham Festival T&Cs apply

New & Existing UK Customers. Opt-in required. Min stake: £25. Total Free Bets: 2 x £5, plus £5 added to Cheltenham pot. Qualify for 4 weeks & get an extra £10 Free Bet. Single Line Multiples including 3 or more selections only. Min. overall odds: 2/1 (3.00). Pot credited in full on 11/03/24. 18+. T&Cs apply. Bet the Responsible Way Full terms apply.

18+ only. T&Cs apply. New customers only.

Claim Here

But that wasn’t always the case. In the past, Chelsea academy products have struggled to break through of course, including Tino Livramento who is thriving at Southampton, but the Blues have also let a handful of promising younger players brought from abroad leave without making too much of an impact.

Some have come back to bite them as big mistakes, while others have unfortunately continued their London struggles elsewhere.

We’ve taken a look at a few of those highly-rated younger players that Chelsea signed and just didn’t know what to do.

Kevin De Bruyne

Signed from: RC Genk (2012)

Fee: £6.8m

Chelsea apps: 9

Current club: Manchester City

Of all the players Chelsea have let go in recent years, Kevin De Bruyne must rank as their biggest regret given the considerable success he has enjoyed away from Stamford Bridge. Or at least in the top two.

After falling out with Jose Mourinho, the Belgian playmaker was allowed to leave permanently to join VFL Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga in January 2014.

A Bundesliga Player of the Year award followed the next season, culminating in a £55m move to Manchester City in 2015.

Since his move back to England, De Bruyne has established himself as one of the best midfielders in world football, winning a host of awards both personal and collective with his team including three Premier Leagues, five League Cups and one FA Cup. He has also scored five goals in the Premier League against Chelsea, the Blues’ worst record against a former player. Ouch

Mohamed Salah

Signed from: FC Basel (2014)

Fee: £14m

Chelsea apps: 19

Current club: Liverpool

The other big regret for Chelsea. Mohamed Salah’s electrifying displays for FC Basel in European competition saw him linked with a host of big clubs but despite the close attentions of Liverpool, it was Chelsea who sealed his signature in January 2014.

The Egyptian featured occasionally in the second half of that season but with the Blues squad already packed full of attacking talent, he found game time increasingly hard to come by.

Loans to Fiorentina and Roma worked out well for Salah and he joined the latter permanently in 2016. His incredible form in Italy caught the imagination of Liverpool, who made him theirs in the summer of 2017.

153 goals, a Champions League, Premier League and countless individual awards have followed at Liverpool and Salah is currently one of the best players in the world. But Chelsea fans will always have that goal against Arsenal.

Oriol Romeu

Signed from: Barcelona (2011)

Fee: £3.91m

Chelsea apps: 33

Current club: Southampton

An under the radar acquisition from Barcelona’s B team, Oriol Romeu was initially regularly deployed by Chelsea during Andre Villas-Boas short tenure in charge, but following the Portuguese manager’s departure, he barely featured.

The Spaniard was loaned out to Valencia and then VFB Stuttgart before being sold to Southampton in 2015 where he made a name for himself as a good Premier League midfielder.

888sport betting offer: How to get £30 in free bets (+£10 casino bonus)

Eligible readers interested in the 888sport betting offer can follow THIS LINK or click the image below and sign up using the code 30FB.

Min deposit £/€/$10 • A qualifying bet is a ‘real money’ stake of at least £/€/$10 • Min odds 1/2 (1.50) • Free Bets credited upon qualifying bet settlement and expire after 7 days • Free Bet stakes not included in returns • Casino Bonus must be claimed within 7 days • To withdraw bonus/related wins, wager the bonus amount 40 times within 14 days • Casino Bonus expires after 60 days • Withdrawal restrictions, payment methods, country & full T&Cs apply. 18+ only. Be Gamble Aware.

Marko Marin

Signed from: Werder Bremen (2012)

Fee: £6.8m

Chelsea apps: 16

Current club: Ferencvarosi

Chelsea were extremely active in the 2012 summer, adding a number of talented young prospects to their squad including Eden Hazard, Oscar and the highly-rated German attacker, Marko Marin aka the German Messi.

While Hazard went on to become a legend at the club, Marin spent three years on loan at Sevilla, Fiorentina, Anderlecht and Trabzonspor before his Chelsea time was up. He joined Olympiacos on a permanent deal in 2016 and spent two years in Greece and another two years with Red Star Belgrade in his native Serbia. Marin is now in Hungary with Ferencvaros, via a year in Saudi Arabia.

Bet £10, Get £20 in Free Bets T&Cs apply

18+, UK only. Deposit and place a minimum £10 cash bet at single or accumulated odds of 1/1 or greater and we will give you 1 x £5 in free bets plus an extra 3 x £5 Free Bets the following day. Applies to first cash bet only. Free bets credited as 4 x £5 bets to use on 3x Any sport & 1x Virtuals. Cashed Out, Void or Draw No Bet wagers do not qualify for this promotion. 1 x £5 Free Bets are credited upon qualifying first bet settlement, other free bets credited by midday the day after your first bet settles. 7-day free bet expiry. Available once per customer. This offer cannot be combined with any other promotion. Full T&C’s apply.

18+ only. New UK customers only. T&Cs apply.

Claim Here
Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets T&Cs apply

18+ only. Use code BET30. New Players Only. Minimum stake $/€/£ 10, minimum odds1.5, stake not returned.1X wagering the winnings from the free bet. Wagering occurs from real balance first. Wagering requirement is calculated on bonus bets only, wagering starts from real funds. Free bet is valid for 7 Days from issue. Max conversion: $/€/£ 200. Excluded Skrill deposits. Withdrawal requests voids all active/pending bonuses. Full Terms Apply

18+ only. New customers only. T&Cs apply.

Claim Here
£20 in free bets when you place a £10 bet T&Cs apply

18+ only. £10 min. deposit required. 1 x £10 qualifying bet required. Qualifying bet must be placed on selection with min. odds of 1.8 (4/5). 4 x £5 Free Bets will be credited once the qualifying bet has been settled. 1 x Free Bet valid for any Football Match Result market. 1 x Free Bet valid on any Football Correct Score market. 1 x Free Bet valid on any Horse Racing market. 1 x Free Bet valid on any Tennis market. Free Bets valid for 7 days once credited. T&Cs apply.

18+ only. New customers only. T&Cs apply.

Claim Here

Christian Atsu

Signed from: Porto (2013)

Fee: £2.55m

Chelsea apps: 0

Current club: Al-Raed

A strange one this considering Christian Atsu had yet to fully establish himself in the Porto first-team. Nevertheless, Chelsea’s acquisition of the exciting Ghanaian winger was seen as a good piece of business, given the promise he had shown in Portugal.

However, in four years at the club Atsu did not make a single competitive appearance for the Blues, taking in loan spells at Vitesse, Everton, Bournemouth, Malaga and Newcastle before joining the latter on a permanent basis. Like Romeu, Atsu became a Premier League regular before leaving Newcastle for Saudi Arabia last summer.

Jeffrey Bruma

Signed from: Feyenoord (2007)

Fee: £102k

Chelsea apps: 6

Current club: Kasimpasa

Jeffrey Bruma x John Terry was the dream. The towering Bruma seemed set for a long and fruitful career at Stamford Bridge after being integrated into the first-team squad by Carlo Ancelotti, however, following the Italian’s departure in 2011, he didn’t stick around too long.

Loans at Leicester City and Hamburg failed to help Bruma re-establish himself at Chelsea leading to his exit to join PSV in 2013 where he remained until joining Wolfsburg in 2016. Five years at Wolfsburg followed, with two loan spells at Schalke and Mainz, before Bruma joined current club Kasimpasa.

Sky Bet welcome offer: How to get £20 in free bets

Qualifying readers* can follow THIS LINK to claim, or click the image below.

*New customers only. First single & E/W bet only. 5pm minimum stake. 3x £10 bet tokens. Free bet stakes not included in returns. Free bets exclude virtuals. Free bets are no withdrawable. No free bet expiry. Eligibility restrictions and further Ts&Cs apply. 18+ only.

Tomas Kalas

Signed from: Sigma Olomouc (2010)

Fee: £5.10m

Chelsea apps: 4

Current club: Bristol City

Chelsea spent a considerable fee to land the promising Czech Republic defender Tomas Kalas in 2010, beating a number of top European clubs to his signature.

An impressive outing against Liverpool in the 2013/14 season aside, though, Kalas was hardly given a chance at Chelsea, spending time with Vitesse, FC Koln, Middlesbrough, Fulham and Bristol City. After a temporary stay in 2018/19, Kalas made Bristol City his permanent home and has since become a regular starter for the Robins.

Romelu Lukaku

Signed from: Anderlecht (2011)

Fee: £18.7m

Chelsea apps: 51

Current club: Chelsea

Another Belgian who was discarded prematurely by Mourinho and Chelsea was Romelu Lukaku, who after missing a penalty in the European Super Cup defeat to Bayern Munich in 2013, left for Everton.

An impressive loan spell at Goodison Park in 2013/14 persuaded the Toffees to part with a club-record £28m to sign him permanently and following his continued development since to become a nominee for the 2016/17 Player of the Year award. A £75m move to Manchester United and the Red Devils’ No.9 shirt soon followed.

After a fast start things slowed down and Lukaku had to move to Inter Milan to re-find his form and happiness playing football, guiding the Nerazzuri to the Serie A title last season and scoring 64 goals in 95 games across all competitions. His performances saw Chelsea look to call Lukaku home and the Belgian returned. Scoring just 12 goals this season, Lukaku hasn’t had the best of campaigns and endured the wrath of Chelsea fans for commenting on a return to Inter Milan and his unhappiness at Stamford Bridge at the end of 2021.

It might be that Chelsea just don’t really know what to do with Lukaku.