While the pressures of top-flight English football increase, more and more younger players are being sent away to gain opportunities elsewhere.
Over 300 youngsters are currently on loan from their parent clubs right now, with only 12 of them still playing in the Premier League.
Yes, this could be down to the rule that only allows Premier League clubs to have two loanees at one time, but the same rule was meant to act as a way to encourage clubs to rely on their youth when choosing their starting eleven.
The increased levels of loaned players leaves the impression that either more players are seeking first-team football or clubs are looking to cash in on their retrospective youth systems. Sending players on loan not only saves clubs money on academies but it also creates a new revenue stream, especially for the big teams, as clubs can begin to profit from the loan fees and the developed player sales they entice.
This is something Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is keen to expand. His side have the most players out on loan with 38 players spread across nine different countries. While the chances of many of these player’s returning and staking their claim for a first team start look slim, Chelsea aren’t actually breaking any regulations. Despite the integrity and ethics surrounding these actions treading a very thin line.
Although they have exceptions. The rise of Chelsea loanees’ Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Tammy Abraham, who both gained England debuts this week having impressed during their ongoing spells at Crystal Palace and Swansea respectively, seems to highlight a different trend.
Loftus-Cheek had only made six starts since making his senior debut for the Blues in 2014 and with the constant midfield additions filtering in every transfer window, his progression appeared to stagnate.
However, he has already gone on to match his six starts with Crystal Palace and has shown manager Antonio Conte on what he is missing. Meaning that other players may follow suit and may start taking charge of their own futures.
If so, surely Chelsea would be better off following the footsteps laid out by London counterparts Tottenham and fellow Premier League side Southampton.
Both currently have the least players out on loan and both boast teams with increasing numbers of homegrown talent, therefore not having to part with hefty transfer fees on football’s next best gem.
Harry Winks and Harry Kane have benefited from being led by coach, Mauricio Pochettino due to his undying faith in his youth.
While the latter has endured numerous loans or temporary transfers which the Premier League insist upon calling them, it was always been under the theory, he would return to compete for a first-team place.
Southampton are another club who have and still are reaping the awards of investing time and money into their youth system. They only have five players away on loans and although the list of their academy graduates currently playing in the Premier League for other clubs continues to grow, they still have a team full of homegrown fruits.
Whereas Chelsea’s gruelling loan system has seen the likes of Kevin De Bruyne, Mo Salah and Romelu Lukaku exit on their own terms. Yes, an argument could also be lodged that the structure may be responsible for their immediate rise, it can only question how much longer Chelsea can carry on exhausting the measures of the system.
More and more power is shifting into the player’s hands, with Dominic Solanke, the latest victim to run, following his free transfer for Liverpool last summer.
Although Chelsea won the league last season it was with an ever-ageing squad. The average age of Conte’s men this time around is 26 and with the younger generation being overlooked by new signings every summer, how long until player power proves to become Chelsea’s arch nemesis.