The love affair Roman Abramovich has with Chelsea Football Club runs deep; so deep he's exhausted £1B+ of his considerable fortune on the West London club. With "billionaire money" on par with oil sheiks and tech innovators, the Russian mogul has spent an insane amount on players. Though it has lead to Chelsea's books becoming rife with talent – a lot of it can't crack the first team.
It's saddening, as many players would be a credit to not just Chelsea, but English football as a whole.
There's always talk in Euro or World Cup years of English development being behind continental countries. One could make the argument the influx of foreign players at the top level has resulted in English youth academies becoming less of a priority. When you can import what you need, why develop the attribute(s) at home? This trend leaves more "athletes" on England's roster than technically gifted footballers. The pace of a Theo Walcott or an Aaron Lennon becomes nullified if the opposition can simply hold the ball (see Spain or Germany). Trust this paragraph could easily turn into twenty if not quelled now, so on to the original premise.
Chelsea have a plethora of players on loan, and if the club was given permission to enter another team in the Premier League, the notion of them being in the top half of the table isn't insane. If the Blues assembled and created a team we'll call "Chelsea B," managed by Steve Clarke for pure fancy, they'd be a proper challenge for most Top Flight outfits.
The squad might look a bit like this:
Starting XI (4-2-3-1):
GK: Thibaut Courtois, 21 – Atletico Madrid (**£22M)
RB: Wallace, 19 – Inter Milan (£5.3M)
CB: Tomáš Kalas, 20 – Chelsea Reserves (£5.3M)
CB: Nathaniel Chalobah, 19 – Chelsea Reserves (£3.5M)
LB: Patrick van Aanholt, 23 – Vitesse Arnhem (£2.6M)
CDM: Oriol Romeu, 22 – Valencia CF (£6.2M)
CM: Josh McEachran, 20 – Chelsea Reserves (£4M)
RW: Victor Moses, 23 – Liverpool FC (£13M)
CAM: Thorgan Hazard, 20 – SV Zulte-Waregem (£5.3M)
LW: Marko Marin, 24 – Sevilla FC (£5.3M)
ST: Romelu Lukaku, 20 – Everton FC (£21M)
GK: Matej Delač, 21 – Chelsea Reserves (£650K)
DF: Kenneth Omerou, 20 – Middlesbrough FC (£875K)
DF: Todd Kane, 20 – Blackburn FC (£875K)
DF: Sam Hutchinson, 24 – Chelsea Reserves (£125K)
DF: Andreas Christensen, 17 – Chelsea Reserves (n/a)
MF: Nathan Aké, 18 – Chelsea Reserves (£1.3M)
MF: Lewis Baker, 18 – Chelsea Reserves (£225M)
MF: Ruben Loftus-Cheek, 17 – Chelsea Reserves (£125K)
MF/W: Bertrand Traoré, 18 – Vitesse Arnhem (n/a)
W: Christian Atsu, 22 – Vitesse Arnhem (£5.3M)
W: Gaël Kakuta, 22 – SL Benfica (£3.5M)
CF/W: Lucas Piazon, 19 – Vitesse Arnhem (£4.4M)
CF/W: Islam Feruz, 18 – Chelsea Reserves (£625K)
CF: Isaiah Brown, 17 – Chelsea Reserves (n/a)
ST: Patrick Bamford, 20 – Derby County (£1.1M)
Could they win the Premier League or qualify for the Champions League? Hell no.
Could they be competitive in the Capital One / FA Cup(s) and fight for the Premiership's Europa League spot? Most certainly.
Getting into Chelsea's starting eleven is hard enough for the first team; just talk with Juan Mata or Kevin De Bruyne. To ask relatively unproven or raw, young talent to usurp the likes of John Terry, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard or Eden Hazard is an impossibility. The fact Chelsea have so many players on loan and in the reserve squad is a testament to their owner's desire to win; and in other ways a sign of naivety and greed – especially when you can't change the laws of football to have 15 players a side instead of 11.
The alleged return of Benfica's Nemanja Matić only highlights the issue. Having let go of the Serbian midfielder for £3M in 2011, Chelsea have reportedly reacquired him for seven times that amount – in no small part because he wasn't given the opportunity to impress during his first stint at Stamford Bridge. In fairness, you can't blame Chelsea's hierarchy for wanting the best players in Europe – they get it right more times than not. It just seems with a team the size and caliber of Chelsea, if a player is on their ledgers, he or she is there for a reason; and should be given a chance to prove why.
Chelsea reportedly overspent given the UEFA Financial Fair Play stipulations last season; and when you take a look at the books [Reading Rainbow flashback, apologies] there's no wonder why. Offloading some talent here and there, either in the first team or elsewhere, is what may be needed. After 11 years in charge at Stamford Bridge, Roman Abramovich's sporting home is in need of a spring [though it would technically be summer] cleaning. With José Mourinho stating his intention to remain at the club for an extended period of time, there'd be no better time to do it than now – with no better collaborator.
**All MVs were estimated by Transfermarkt