NEW YOUTH SCHOLARS IN PROFILE
Seven young players started life this week as first-year full-time scholars in the Chelsea Academy, having previously been schoolboys at the club.
Several of the names will be familiar to fans who followed the Chelsea Under-18, Under-19 and even Under-21 teams last season when they featured among older team mates, nine of whom signed their first professional contracts earlier in the week as they commenced their second full-time season.
They were goalkeeper Mitchell Beeney, defenders Andreas Christensen, Dion Conroy, Fankaty Dabo and Kevin Wright, defender/midfielder Jordan Houghton, midfielder Isak Ssewankambo, and strikers Chike Kandi and Reece Mitchell.
Returning to the new first years, it is a smaller intake than some seasons but there are high hopes for it. Assistant Academy manager Jim Fraser gives the official Chelsea website a summary of each player's history and quality…
'Ola signed for us as an Under-11 after one of our summer camps and started as a right winger. He used to roast people down the line with his pace and score lots of goals, but during his time here we have moved him back and he fits the modern right-back role. He is able to get up and down the line fantastically well, is a good defender having worked hard on that, and he made his FA Youth Cup debut in the latter stages of last season.
'He is very good on his left side as well and has played centre-back on a number of occasions. Ola is from Essex and an England Under-17 international having not been in the earliest England squads for his age group. I think he is going to be in there for a long time. His younger brother is with us as well and has just gone into the Under-12s.'
'An exciting talent who has been with us since 11, Jeremie (pictured below) has always been an attacking player and can play anywhere across the front three, but mainly plays in the No.10 role. He has played for France Under-17s but has not been in the most recent squads. He scores goals, creates goals and has won a number of games through his magical moments, and has been part of a very successful year group that has won lots of tournaments abroad for the younger age groups, so he has good experience of European football as well.'
'George came to us on trial as an Under-13 when he was with Monaco and did well so we kept in touch with his family. He left Monaco and went to AS Caen and then became eligible to come to us at Under-15s. He was a 100m champion in his area so he is a very quick player and an out-and-out defender. He plays left side or right side of central defence although he is predominantly right-footed. Aggressive in the air and good on the ball, he loves a tackle!'
'Came to us from Charlton as an Under-11. Charlie (pictured below) had played against us at the younger ages so we knew a bit about him before we had the opportunity to bring him in. He is a midfielder who has done ever so well and is a fantastic technician with wonderful awareness. He is a creator of chances who can score good goals and that is something he has really improved over the years. He has always had the ability to score but now he is doing it more regularly.
'Although he was at Charlton originally, Charlie is from the West Ham area, five minutes from Upton Park. An England U16 and U17 international, he has always been slight but is starting to grow now and mature.'
'A goalkeeper from Hampshire, Bradley came to us as an Under-13 after we played against his team to look at some other players mainly and spotted him in the process. He is growing rapidly, is a good shot-stopper and a very confident boy. He is right-footed, is decent with the ball at his feet and does well with back passes.
'Bradley has really improved his game since he has been with us and has been involved with goalkeeper training with the FA but hasn't yet played for England youth. When he was selected he was injured.'
'Also known as Charly Junior, with Charly being his father's name, Mus is the younger brother of Lamisha and Tika who are Chelsea Under-21 players. He signed for us last season after joining from Anderlecht. Mus is a Belgian U17 international who plays anywhere in midfield and is an exciting, technical player. Again he is a scorer and a creator of goals.'
'Kasey used to play in the same team at Charlton as Charlie Colkett and played against Chelsea for many years. When we faced them in the Youth Cup last season he was exceptional and when we found out he wasn't staying at Charlton we were able to sign him.
'A right-footed midfield player who can play in the middle or wide, he is an athletic boy and a good mover, technically very strong and powerful in the air with a good leap. He played for England Under-17s late last year in the Algarve tournament and although he hasn't been at Chelsea long, he has integrated very well into the squad.'
Four full-time scholars who were part of last season's youth squad are released this summer and Chelsea Football Club thanks them for the efforts and contributions during their time here.
Sam Bangura signed for us at Under-13 but after becoming a full-time scholar, it was difficult for him to break into a strong youth team,' reports Fraser.
'He went away in the summer and played international football for Sierra Leone. A right-back, a strong defender and we hope he has success at another club.
'Nortei Nortey signed for us at Under-14 but he was unfortunate with a couple of bad knee injuries that required operations. He came back fit and strong and is still with us at the minute to get fit to go on trial. I've spoken to a couple of clubs on his behalf hopefully he will get in somewhere for pre-season.
'Ismail Seremba has gone over to America to play university football and we are pleased about that. He signed at Under-13, a local boy who did really well at schoolboy ages but then found the transition difficult into the scholarship level and has been frustrated by a lack of games.'
'Tom Howard has been here since he was seven and is a wonderful boy from a fantastic family and fingers crossed, he is going to get himself fit and ready to go and have a look at other clubs. We are going to ask them to come back in every three months to check and see how they are doing because we are going to support them and help them get trials. Tom is someone who has become very close to a lot of us over the last 10 years and we really hope he gets what he deserves.'