Top Chelsea academy graduates of the century

As one of the most successful English clubs in the 21st century, Chelsea is known for always making moves in the transfer market and buying expensive talents. But, they are also known for breeding successful players in their academy, another reason for their successful European and domestic runs.

Some club legends are Chelsea’s very own, and so are some of their current players. Not to mention, there are graduates succeeding outside of Chelsea as well.

During the 2023 summer transfer window, the Blues made a massive amount of sales, causing a ruckus in the football world. To add to the media chaos, Academy players did not escape this rapid cleanout.

Mason Mount was dramatically sold to Premier League rivals Manchester United. He was 1 of 4 Cobham graduates out of 24 outgoings. Ruben Loftus-Cheek made his way to AC Milan, Callum Hudson-Odoi is now a Nottingham Forest player and Lewis Hall moved to Newcastle on loan.

After selling Mount, the Chelsea Player of the Year in the 2020–21 and 2021–22 seasons, questions arose on the integrity of the Chelsea Academy, and what kind of message the sales send to the remaining Academy players, graduates or not.

Amid all the drama, some Cobham graduates have outwardly shown their loyalty to Chelsea despite rumours about how graduates have been treated under the new management. Captain Reece James and teammate Conor Gallagher have spoken highly of the direction the club is now taking and have made it clear they want to stay and see it through.

The world is talking, but the Chelsea Academy is a tough one to doubt. Especially when you consider the talent they have produced over the century so far. Below is a run-through of some of the best players to come out of Cobham in the 21st century.

John Terry

When you think of Captain in terms of Chelsea, it’s hard not to think about John Terry. The centre-back is arguably the best talent ever produced by Chelsea.

The legend is Chelsea’s most successful captain. He led the Blues to five Premier League titles, a Champions League, four FA Cups and a Europa League.

Terry made 717 appearances for Chelsea. He also earned 78 caps for England. In his prime, he was considered one of the best defenders in the world. The centre-back was integral to the success of Chelsea, making it impossible to see the number 26 and not remember him.

He recently played for Chelsea again, in the Chelsea Legends vs. Bayern Legends game on 9th September 2023. In true fashion, the veteran scored a goal in the 26th minute, as if he’d never stopped playing football at a professional level. The Legends game ended 4-0 in favour of Chelsea.

Reece James

Reece James is an ongoing success story. The right-back recently made history by becoming Chelsea’s captain at just 23.

The Englishman has had constant injury problems in recent years but is one of the world’s best right-backs when fully fit. James being chosen as Captain despite being injury-prone just goes to show how much trust the club has in him – a true testament to what Cobham can produce.

James’ brilliant performances have caught the eye of Real Madrid in recent years but the club have made it more than clear that he is not going anywhere, as has the player himself.

Andreas Christensen

Now at Barcelona since 2022, the 27-year-old is showing La Liga what Cobham can produce.

He made over 160 appearances for Chelsea and helped them to five trophies, including the 2021 UCL title where he was crucial to the Blues earning a clean sheet against Manchester City.

His performances often go under the radar, but anyone who pays attention to the Danish can see the obvious talent and skills the player carries.

Fikayo Tomori

Having left Chelsea in 2021 and joining AC Milan, he has made a name for himself in Serie A.

So far he has made over 100 appearances for AC Milan since the move. He was one of the main reasons AC Milan won the Serie A title in 2022 – so much so that he was named in Serie A’s Team of the Year in that season.

Levi Colwill

Colwill was outstanding for Brighton in the 2022/23 season. He made 22 appearances, helping Brighton to secure sixth in the Premier League and earn a chance to play in the Europa League.

His strengths really highlighted to the point that top Premier League managers spoke highly of him. Many clubs were interested in signing the young Englishman, including Brighton who were keen to extend his loan, but Colwill made the decision to return home to Chelsea.

Nathan Aké

The Dutchman joined Chelsea at 15 and made the switch to Bournemouth 5 years later. Once the player settled in, he had an impressive spell at the club. Pep Guardiola was clearly impressed as he signed Aké to Manchester City in 2020.

Aké had a slow start at City but has now become a vital part of the team. Pep has called him “exceptional” and it is no doubt that despite injuries, Aké was a valuable asset in City’s run for the treble.

Mason Mount

The Englishman was a star under Frank Lampard’s first managerial stint at the club. Mount proved to the world why he deserved the promotion to the senior team.

In 195 appearances for The Blues, Mount scored 27 goals. He won three trophies with the club, including the Champions League in 2021.

Mount was a favourite to be Chelsea’s captain in the coming years. But doubts arose after a difficult spell in the 2022/23 season for the player who was rumoured to be wanting an exit.

In dramatic fashion, Chelsea and Manchester United agreed to a £55 million deal for Mason Mount who was yet to hit his prime at Chelsea in the summer of 2023. He is however having a slow start at the club.

Ruben Loftus-Cheek

Loftus-Cheek may have not been able to reach his full potential during his time at Chelsea, but his name is still worth mentioning.

After a very successful youth career for the Blues, a promotion to the first team was more than deserved. However, injury dealt him a bad deal and gave him a slow start, as well as a slow comeback. Fortunately, hints of the obvious talent would come up, and AC Milan picked up on the potential.

He is enjoying Italian football with Tomori and Pulsic who are both AC Milan players as well. Loftus-Cheek has already managed an assist within the first games of the season and has posed a big threat to his Serie A rivals with his performances.

Declan Rice

What has years later proven to be a mistake, Rice was released from their academy when he was 14. He then joined the West Ham academy where he worked his way into the first team and became a regular starter and an important part of the team.

During the 2023 summer transfer window, there was a bidding war for the talented Englishman. Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal were among those interested, but Arsenal was the club that earned the talent that has now scored one goal in the Premier League so far.

Jamal Musiala

The German did not spend much time at Chelsea, but having had the experience of being a Blue has given him the opportunity to make a name for himself.

Musiala is currently considered one of the best young footballers. The young talent has scored 31 goals for Bayern Munich since he joined in 2020 and has helped them to nine trophies – including four consecutive Bundesliga titles.

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