Editorial stockpile racing
England had a good summer at youth level but few of those players will reach the top clubs’ first teams cost; Pickford may not hold his record for long. Premier League clubs can afford huge transfer fees, especially when they sell at the same rate, but that is no justification for the crazily inflated values placed on homegrown players. While Kyle Walker is one of the better England full-backs in recent times, the competition has not been fierce. Meanwhile, clubs here are hardly benefiting from being collectively the biggest spenders in Europe – no Pre
The 65th edition of the FA Youth Cup begins with a preliminary round on September 4, when ties include an east Northants ampersand derby between AFC Rushden & Diamonds and Rushden & Higham United. Unless they are paired in an earlier round, Chelsea and Manchester City are likely to contest the final, as they have done for the last three years. Chelsea have won all three and taken part in eight of the last ten finals. This is not the first time that one club has dominated the FA Youth Cup. Manchester United won the first five finals from 1952-53 onwards, with sides containing several players who went on to win League titles and play at international level.
mier League team has reached the Champions League final since Chelsea won it in 2012 and only Leicester made the quarterfinals last season. Developing young talent takes time and patience and, as well as saving them huge amounts of money, it is also something clubs should do as a matter of principle.
Developing young talent takes time and patience and, as well as saving them huge amounts of money, it is something
In a different era, some of those who played in Chelsea’s winning series would have had opportunities for the senior team by now. Instead, they are getting all their experience elsewhere. The side that beat City in May 2015 included three players, all now 19, who were in England’s Under-20 World Cup-winning team two months ago. Two have played one first team match each for Chelsea while the third, Dominic Solanke, has now joined Liverpool having spent all his playing time previously with Vitesse Arnhem in the Netherlands.
clubs should do as a matter of principle
Among the many bizarre aspects of Roman Abramovich’s ownership is the fact that Chelsea use an expensively constructed youth system simply as a means to make money on player sales. The absurdity will be underlined on the day that they buy back one of their former teen stars, inevitability at an over-inflated price, to make up the requisite number of homegrown players in their first-team squad. In the meantime being part of an FA Youth Cup-winning side is only a prelude to restarting a career in the Championship.
A fourth member of that squad, Jay Dasilva, was one of six Chelsea players in the other England team that won a trophy this summer– the European Under-19 Championship in Georgia last month. Mason Mount, an 18-year-old midfielder, was widely recognised as the outstanding talent in that side and has since become the latest of several players to be loaned to Vitesse, who are owned by Alexander Chigirinsky, a friend but not apparently a business colleague of Roman Abramovich. The current coach of Chelsea’s under-19 team, Jody Morris, is the second-most-recent product of the club’s youth system to have played regularly for the first team – having made his debut in 1996, two years before John Terry.
Manchester City have followed Chelsea’s example in stockpiling teenage talent from around the world since their takeover by the Abu Dhabi United Group in 2008, and have likewise had little to show for it so far. Nonetheless, one member of the side that lost the 2017 Youth Cup final – and who featured for the England team that were runners-up in the European Under-17 Championship this summer – did at least play in a major pre-season match. Pep Guardiola was effusive about the display by 17-year-old midfielder Phil Foden in the 2-0 defeat to Manchester United in Houston, saying: “I don’t have words to describe what I saw. He is a gift.” Foden may prove to be an exception but City’s academy stars will be aware of the difficulties they will face in making an impact at a club with almost limitless wealth.
A week before Foden’s first-team debut, City had bought Kyle Walker from Tottenham for £53 million, a world record for a defender. Earlier in the summer, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford became the most expensive uncapped English player after moving from Sunderland to Everton for around half of what Walker
Above Chelsea triumph again in the FA Youth Cup