Cobham producing the goods as Chelsea’s academy leads the way

By Sports Desk July 27, 2023

Chelsea gave the most playing time of any Premier League club to players developed in their own academy last season, research from the PA news agency has revealed.

Despite the focus on their extraordinary spending in both the summer and winter transfer windows under new owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali, the Blues fielded seven players developed in-house for a combined 9,473 minutes.

That was one more player and nearly 2,000 minutes more than any other Premier League academy and here, PA looks at the figures in detail.

Cobham producing the goods

Five Chelsea academy products have been a regular feature of the club’s line-up in recent years and played over 1,000 minutes apiece last season, with Conor Gallagher leading the way at 1,812, narrowly ahead of Trevoh Chalobah, Mason Mount and Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

While the latter pair have left the club this summer, Reece James’ playing time is likely to increase from the 1,381 minutes he managed in an injury-hit season. Lewis Hall played 700 minutes and Armando Broja also featured before a long-term injury of his own.

Levi Colwill could also return from his loan at Brighton to help keep up the club’s homegrown quota, after starring for England’s Under-21 European champions.

Chelsea’s targets for their academy under their ‘Vision 2030’ banner include having Cobham graduates make up 25 per cent of their first-team squad and 15 per cent of playing time, and to have more in the professional game than any other academy.

Seven of last season’s 32 players were developed in-house and accounted for almost 23 per cent of their playing time, while leading the field for Premier League players indicates they are on track for the latter aim as well.

Three other clubs – Tottenham, Southampton and Liverpool – used six each of their own graduates but the closest club to Chelsea in terms of playing time were Nottingham Forest, with 7,619 minutes from four players.

Brennan Johnson played over 3,000 minutes, captain Joe Worrall almost 2,500 and Ryan Yates just short of 2,000, while Alex Mighten made one brief appearance before going out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday.

Crystal Palace were just 38 minutes behind in third, with Leicester and Brighton completing the top five ahead of Spurs.

Bees no-show

At the other end of the scale, Brentford were the only Premier League club not to give any playing time to graduates of their own academy.

The Bees have benefitted from their innovative link-up with Danish club Midtjylland, importing a number of talented players from Scandinavia and finishing 13th and ninth in their two seasons since promotion to the top flight.

They have barely developed any homegrown talent, though, with Ryan Trevitt and Nathan Young-Coombes making matchday squads but yet to take to the pitch in the Premier League.

Leeds fared little better last season in terms of player development, their 73 minutes coming in a solitary early-season appearance for Cody Drameh before his successful loan at Luton.

Fulham managed just 339 minutes, mostly from Marek Rodak and Jay Stansfield, while Hugo Bueno accounted for the vast majority of Wolves’ 1,742 minutes.

One extreme or the other

There were 83 players in last season’s top flight tagged as academy graduates of the same club they played for.

While those included several club captains such as James Ward-Prowse, Declan Rice and Lewis Dunk and stalwart players like Harry Kane, Bukayo Saka and Marcus Rashford, many others were on the periphery.

Thirty played less than 90 minutes while 23 made just one appearance each, ranging from one minute and 40 seconds for West Ham midfielder Conor Coventry against Manchester City to a full 90 minutes plus nine of stoppage time for Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher in the 4-4 draw with Southampton.

Nine players cleared the 3,000-minute mark and a further eight played over 2,000 minutes, with 34 in all playing 1,000 minutes or more for the club that developed them.

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