A number of things have been problematic at Chelsea over the years, but few have led to more criticism than their approach to young players. The Blues have an incredible academy that develops young talent at a remarkable rate, but young players never get a chance at the club.
This is a problem, of course, because it means that the club are forced instead to go out and spend big money on foreign imports, whilst many of their young players often leave the club in search of an opportunity.
In the past, this has forced some incredible players out of the club, with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Nemanja Matic and Thorgan Hazard just a few examples of individuals that have come of age away from the club.
Maurizio Sarri, though Chelsea fans were likely expecting their youth fortunes to change under him, seems to only be making the problem worse.
He hasn’t afforded many opportunities to any young players, with even Andreas Christensen – who was a regular under Antonio Conte – struggling to get a role in the team under the Italian. Other talented youngsters, like Ethan Amadu and Callum Hudson-Odoi, are two other examples of this major issue.
What Sarri fails stop recognise here, though, is that Hudson-Odoi simply can’t improve if he’s not given a chance. The boss can’t expect players to learn his methods if they aren’t given any time in the spotlight. And no, the odd start in the Europa League for a young player isn’t enough for him to get a pass.
Marcus Rashford wasn’t a world-beater when he got his debut at Man Utd. He was given an opportunity in less important ties – like easier European clashes – and he took his chance with both hands. The same can be said for players like Harry Kane and Dele Alli. The key here, though, is that they were given regular chances, not just one every other month.
Chelsea, it’s clear, just haven’t learnt their lesson. Until that changes, they simply will be stuck in a cycle, and their long-term success cannot be guaranteed. Sarri, if he wants to succeed, must realise what he’s got – because Hudson-Odoi, and others, are simply being wasted.