We’re at the midpoint of the season, and with a fairly empty schedule until early January for the youth and reserve teams, it’s time to turn our attentions to a few different areas. Over the next few days and weeks we’ll be looking at the wider scope of the academy so far, and in time gone by, as well as a nod to the future. Today, we’ll take a look at the players the club released over the summer, and what they’ve done in their careers since departing.
The 2009 summer saw the climax of a stage of culling the remainder of the dead wood in the reserve team, but at the same time a cluster of highly-rated players left for what they believed to be greater opportunities. It’s only the early stages of their post-Chelsea careers, so it’s far too early to say whether they’ve been justified, but let’s delve in anyway.
After a couple of unsuccessful domestic loan spells at QPR and Portsmouth, Ben went to Holland late last season and did well for struggling De Graafschap. Whether Chelsea wanted to keep him or not, Sahar and his advisors clearly felt a fresh start was best for all concerned and in July he joined Spanish side Espanyol. After an impressive pre-season during which he scored against Liverpool he notched his club’s first competitive goal in their new stadium and has been a decent contributor to the side in performances, even if he only has the one goal so far. He has also added twice further to his already impressive Israeli national team account, and looks to be quietly developing nicely in a lower pressure environment.
It was both a shock and a disappointment last January when Sergio Tejera’s loan move to Mallorca included a buying clause for the island side should they wish to retain the young Spaniard’s services. A very capable and talented performer at youth and reserve level, many considered Sergio one of the more likely to make the breakthrough to first team level, but perhaps he simply didn’t settle as he would have liked and returned home. After impressing for Mallorca’s B team, they did indeed take the option to sign him for around €600,000 and he was to join up with their first team squad for the 09/10 season. Unfortunately, a torn groin muscle early in the campaign has sidelined him for the entire duration of the season to date, but he’ll be hoping to make the step up in 2010.
Frank had just come off the back of a superb goalscoring campaign in 08/09 for the youth team and had started emerging in the reserves, so Chelsea duly offered him professional terms having turned 17. Perhaps disappointed by the club’s signing of Daniel Sturridge, a similar player in style and position and only 19 himself, Frank turned down the club’s offer and set his sights on a move elsewhere. Despite rumoured interest from Arsenal, the England Under-19 winger signed a five year deal with West Ham United and was given the number 24 shirt and a place in the first team squad. Early signs indicate that he might have made a good decision, as Gianfranco Zola has often had him on the bench this season and he has made five appearances in addition to three goals in eight reserve games. With Carlton Cole injured for a few months yet, he could get his chance sooner than anyone had really reckoned on.
A long-time Chelsea youngster, it was becoming increasingly evident that Jimmy’s time at the club was coming to an end, so a successful loan spell at Leyton Orient was the obvious precursor to the East London lad signing a two-year deal with the Os over the summer. A regular in midfield, he scored on the opening day of the season and has mainly been a good performer, although he has only added one more goal since August.
One of the later departures, coming on transfer deadline day, Shaun’s loan spell at West Brom was cut short when Reading paid for his permanent services. The opportunity of regular football and working with his old youth and reserve coach Brendan Rodgers was too good for Cummings to turn down and whilst his performances have been mixed, he does have a dozen appearances to date, and is settling down after a year which also saw a loan spell at MK Dons. The next few weeks will be particularly testing for Shaun as Rodgers has been dismissed by the Reading board, leaving him on the same standing as everyone else at the club in having to impress a new manager.
Morten was never the most prolific youth team striker and when the goals dried up further for the reserves, it almost became a question of when he might go, not if. A loan spell to Landskrona BoIS in Sweden saw him deployed more in midfield but Chelsea terminated his contract at the end of the Swedish season over the summer, leaving him as a free agent. Interest from Celtic came to nothing and after training with Feyenoord, he signed with another Dutch side, AZ Alkmaar. Despite being given the number 17 shirt for the season he is yet to play in their first team, featuring for their B side thus far. It won’t come as a surprise to learn that he has no goals so far this campaign but a move into midfield seems to have become permanent for the Danish teenager.
After a loan move to Oldham came to nothing, Fabio’s Chelsea career came to an end after four years in England. A trial at Alaves was unsuccessful, but he has surfaced at Portuguese Second Division side Esmoriz, where he is a regular starter alongside fellow attacking midfielder Paulo Ferreira.
Fernandes arrived with Ferreira from Sporting Lisbon, and duly departed at the same time after an injury-plagued spell in England. He hasn’t been so successful in finding a new team, currently playing with amateur side AC Marinhense, the club his father had a successful career at.
Jack was the first departure of the summer, leaving Chelsea way back in April to sign with Southampton, a team close to his Hampshire roots. Given a first team squad number (33) for 09/10, he is yet to play for the Saints, and has only made two appearances for the reserves so far after a few injuries. He can often be seen back at Cobham keeping up with his old Chelsea friends and watching younger brother George playing for the Under-18s.
Jordan, maybe surprisingly, signed an amateur contract with Cheltenham in the summer, and impressed then manager Martin Allen with his application and desire to earn place without earning a wage. Unfortunately it was unsuccessful and he left the club in October, settling now at local side Oxford City, in the Zamaretto League.
BILLY JOE KING
Billy Joe currently plays for Leatherhead in the Isthmian League Division One South, and is making an impression in the first team on the left wing after doing well for their reserves.
I’m sure followers of the youth and reserve teams will wish these guys the best of luck in their future careers, and can add their names to the ever-growing list of Chelsea products with a successful football career.