Breaking through at Chelsea has never been as straightforward as it is these days. Now under a manager who is prepared to turn to academy stars, anyone who is deserving of a chance at Chelsea can be confident of getting one.
The current senior side is full of young stars who have justified Frank Lampard’s faith, and there are plenty of others who are still biding their time and waiting for the call from the boss.
Here are seven players who Chelsea fans could be seeing plenty more of in 2020.
Chelsea fans have already had a few glimpses of Scottish midfielder Billy Gilmour. The 18-year-old excelled in pre-season and has already made four appearances for Lampard’s senior side.
Dubbed the ‘Scottish Iniesta’, Gilmour has shone in the young Blues’ midfield ever since joining in 2017. His ability to dictate the tempo of a game with his sublime passing skills has left fans incredibly excited, and he certainly looks like one to watch.
Lampard is a huge fan and has not shied away from including him in his side when needed. Gilmour looks ready for senior football, and he could get plenty of it in 2020.
Like Gilmour, right-back Tariq Lamptey has had a taste of Premier League action already. The 19-year-old was superb in December’s 2-1 over Arsenal, which came as little surprise to anyone who has seen Lamptey in action for the academy.
Perhaps more comfortable as a wing-back, Lamptey is a diminutive defender who loves flying forward. His agility and dribbling skills make him a nightmare for opponents, and he has a great track record of winning penalties because defenders simply cannot deal with him.
His current contract expires in the summer, meaning Lamptey might not have the chance to break through at Chelsea. However, if he does agree fresh terms, 2020 will certainly be a big year for Lamptey.
Lampard’s Chelsea have struggled at the back. If he wants more options, the boss could do a whole lot worse than turning to 19-year-old Marc Guehi.
Guehi played 90 minutes in both of Chelsea’s Carabao Cup games this year and certainly held his own, bringing his leadership and aerial ability to a defence which has often struggled for direction.
He is composed on the ball and will almost certainly see more opportunities over the coming year.
If you could build the ideal midfielder for the modern game, you’d probably end up with something close to 18-year-old Tino Anjorin.
A towering presence, Anjorin boasts the physicality to hold his own against senior players, but also comes with the technical ability which is not often seen in taller players. Whether passing, dribbling or shooting, Anjorin always looks comfortable on the pitch.
The teenager was also handed his debut in the Carabao Cup, and that should be the first of several senior appearances for Anjorin.
Barring an early return from loan, midfielder Conor Gallagher won’t be seen in a Chelsea shirt until next season at the earliest as he is currently out with Charlton Athletic. Every year, the loan army creates a star-in-the-making, and Gallagher looks to be next.
After shining with Chelsea’s academy, the 19-year-old has brought this skills to the Championship with ease. He can score, assist and tackle like a veteran, but he combines that with the energy of a teenager who is trying to make a name for himself.
Lampard will undoubtedly have been impressed with Gallagher’s progress this season, and that could mean we see him in a blue shirt next year.
Like Gallagher, centre-back Trevoh Chalobah is also out on loan in the Championship, but will certainly be knocking on the door when he comes back.
The 20-year-old has been transitioned into a defensive midfielder during his two years out on loan, and that versatility could work in his favour. He’s tall, athletic and composed on the ball, so he could fill in wherever Lampard wants him.
There have long been high hopes for Chalobah, who has proven over the last two years that he is ready for senior football. With Lampard looking for defensive stability, Chalobah could soon earn his debut.
Much has been made of Chelsea’s left-back situation. Marcos Alonso and Emerson have both struggled to impress, so the Blues have been linked with plenty of big-money signings. However, if they want to save some money, they could look to academy star Ian Maatsen.
Another of those to have featured in the cup, Maatsen is rated highly by many at the club. He will likely continue to offer cover for the senior squad, but certainly has the talent to take a chance if one arrives.
He is clearly already in Lampard’s thoughts, so it could just be a matter of time before the Dutchman gets the nod.