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P2) UEFA Youth League winners triumph of Chelsea's recruiting and coaching

Greg Dyke, the FA chairman, can't complain about the make-up of Chelsea's UEFA Youth League winners.

Nine of the 12 to make the pitch in Nyon on Monday were English. Seven were Londoners. And seven of the 12 had been with the club since they were 12 years old or younger.

This Blues U19 team is a triumph for aggressive recruiting at youth level and expert development coaching.

Ola Aina, Jake Clarke-Salter, Charlie Colkett, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Dominic Solanke are all England youth internationals and have virtually spent their entire junior careers with Chelsea. France youth international Jeremie Boga has also been with the club since 11 years of age, with his family moving from Marseille for work.

Captain Izzy Brown made his Premier League debut for West Bromwich Albion two years ago at the age of 16. That summer, coming off contract, he left for Chelsea. Lifting the UEFA Youth League title on Monday followed on from Brown winning the U17 Euros with England. He is also preparing for an FA Youth Cup final against Manchester City.

Blues goalkeeper Bradley Collins was nicked from under the noses of Southampton's academy as a 12 year-old.

Sixteen year-old fullback Jay Dasilva joined as a 13 year-old from Luton Town. He arrived in a wave of publicity as twin brothers Rio and Cole, a year younger than Jay, were also signed as part of a package. Similarly, Ola Aina's younger brother joined the U12s last season.

Boga apart, who's now spent almost as much time in London than Marseille, there were only two genuine foreigners in Monday's team - Andreas Christensen and Charly Musonda.

Christensen, 19, is still regarded by many as the best defensive talent for his age anywhere in Europe. He didn't cost Chelsea a penny in transfer fees when joining from Brondby. But he did sign a contract worth a mooted £20,000-a-week ahead of inferior offers from Barcelona, Manchester United and Manchester City.

Musonda, meanwhile, chose Chelsea ahead of offers from the likes of Barca and Real Madrid after deciding to leave Anderlecht as a 15 year-old. Blues football chief Michael Emenalo pulled off the transfer coup, trumping Barca after the family had visited the La Masia complex.

Chelsea go to City for the first-leg of the FA Youth Cup final on Monday. It'll be their fourth consecutive final appearance - but this current team is the genuine article. They're head-and-shoulders ahead of what's come before them.


P1) Chelsea's UEFA Youth League winners: No excuses for Mourinho with this crop

P3) Charly Musonda Jr: Monaco, Mourinho and an agents blow-up at Chelsea

Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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