The Blues finally landed their man that summer, with the club continuing their period of transition since Roman Abramovich acquired the majority share in the club from Ken Bates in 2003.
Then manager Jose Mourinho had been at the Stamford Bridge for a season and had landed Chelsea their first top flight championship in 50 years. However, he was heavily opposed to the arrival of the Dane, with the Portuguese tactician wanting to focus the clubs resources on youth development, a request the west London giants would fail to adhere to.
The now Real Madrid head coach then insisted that it was the fault of Arnesen for a lack of talented youth in the Chelsea ranks. However, the Blues have recently taken it upon themselves to reinvest heavily in the academy through a number of home grown and foreign talent, snapping up the hottest prospects the world of football has to offer.
At present, this has seen Chelsea loan out 23 players over the summer, from both the first-team and reserve squad. This figure, of course, includes the aging duo of Yossi Benayoun and Michael Essien, both of whom are with West Ham United and Real Madrid respectively. However, of the remaining 21, the likes of Josh McEachran, Gael Kakuta and Belgian quartet Romelu Lukaku, Kevin De Bruyne, Thibaut Courtois and Thorgan Hazard are all playing their trade across Europe and gaining extensive first-team experience which will be pivotal in their development.
All are expected to have bright futures within the game, with Chelsea keen for all on-loan to improve as players before returning to Stamford Bridge next summer. Yet it isn’t just those away from the Blues for the season that are reaping the benefits of regular playing time.
The U-18 side are currently six points clear in the Academy Table after six games, conceding just six goals in their opening encounters, the most recent a 2-1 win over local rivals Fulham. It goes to show the talent that the Blues are currently bringing through as a result of the coaching available throughout the club.
However, it’s those on loan that are attracting the vast majority of the interest from the Chelsea fans, most notably the Belgian trio of Lukaku, De Bruyne and Courtois.
ROMELU LUKAKU - WEST BROMWICH ALBION
Lukaku arrived at Stamford Bridge last summer following a big money switch from Anderlecht and is expected to take the game by storm. His physique saw him dubbed the new Didier Drogba, but the Belgium international saw his first-team opportunities limited under first Andre Villas-Boas and then Roberto Di Matteo.
After making just 12 appearances for the Blues last season, the west London outfit opted to loan him out to West Bromwich Albion. As such, it has proven a minor success to date, netting twice in his five appearances for the Midlands side.
Lukaku has shown exactly what he is capable of achieving in the game at the Hawthorns, with his performances reminiscent to those he showed as a youngster in Belgium. Chelsea will be hopeful that he can continue his impressive displays over the season and return after the summer ready to showcase his capabilities to the coaching staff.
KEVIN DE BRUYNE - WERDER BREMEN
Chelsea signed Kevin De Bruyne from KRC Genk in January, but both clubs agreed that the young winger would spend the remainder of the campaign with the Belgian side. The youngster completed his switch to the Blues over the summer, but was, unsurprisingly, sent out on loan once again, this time to Bundesliga side Werder Bremen.
The 21-year-old has been tipped for big things, like Lukaku, and it’s hardly a shock to have seen him net three times and provide two assists during his eight outings for Bremen last season. However, Chelsea already have an abundance of riches in the position De Bruyne occupies.
The likes of Eden Hazard, Marko Marin, Oscar and Juan Mata are all vying for starting spots and are likely to be ahead of De Bruyne in the pecking order upon his return next summer. Yet, if he continues his impressive form for Bremen during the season, Di Matteo will find it hard to overlook him next season.
THIBAUT COURTOIS - ATLETICO MADRID
Perhaps that one that has shown the most promise following his permanent switch from Racing Genk in 2011, Thibaut Courtois is already a double cup winner despite being just 20 years of age. The Belgium international secured Europa League and European Super Cup glory with Atletico Madrid last year and has instantly earned his spot as their number one following the departure of David De Gea.
Making 52 appearances for the La Liga side last season saw him keep 23 clean sheets, again affirming the mass potential he’s already begun to show. Winning two trophies with Los Colchoneros will do wonders for his confidence as Chelsea prepare to welcome back their future number one.
Courtois will spend the remainder of the campaign with Atletico, who have made a blistering start to La Liga and find themselves in second placed after seven games. The 20-year-old may’ve just made two appearances this season, but the experience with the Spaniards will work wonders for him in the future.
Mourinho may’ve recently stated that Arnesen’s input hindered the standard of the players coming through the youth system, but with the likes of the aforementioned trio on loan, coupled with the start to the season for the U-18’s, has seen Chelsea turn a new corner in the development of academy players.
‘To produce home-grown professional footballers capable of competing with Europe’s elite players’ is the aim of the Chelsea academy. With the quality currently on loan and in the U-18’s, the Blues are certainly on their way to achieving this.