Jamal Blackman: Age 18
Player He Plays Like: Victor Valdes – Blackman is a tough player to assess because he doesn’t get a lot of action. Like Barcelona, the U21 team’s style of play is keeping the ball and Blackman has to focus hard on concentrating. Like Valdes, Blackman is fairly error prone and, though usually solid, can make some pretty ill-advised mistakes.
Chances of Making the First Team: (D) – The coaching staff has high expectations for him but he has yet to get a real look by Di Matteo. A lot of the coaching staff might expect him to grow into a solid back-up for Courtois or Cech but it’s extremely unlikely he’ll ever wear the #1 shirt. Players like Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Courtois are just a year older but already well-established and nationally capped keepers.
Nathan Ake: Age 17
Player He Plays Like: David Luiz – Ake and Luiz both look like very similar players on the pitch but Ake is generally a more composed defender with less flair going forward. Both players are mistake prone but fan favorites. Ake, signed in 2011, has been a first choice starter since his arrival.
Chances of Making the First Team: (C+) – When looking at Ake you have to remember that Chelsea have an abundance of centre-back starlets including Chalobah, Kalas and Omeruo. That being said, Ake is a talented youngster with plenty of room to grow and has a slightly better shot than most of our youth players.
Alex Davey: Age 17
Player He Plays Like: Gary Cahill – Davey really didn’t get too many opportunities to shine until Chalobah was moved into the midfield last season. Davey, in his ninth year at Chelsea, isn’t always the most sound defender. He’s a solid player but you often worry about his ability at times.
Chances of Making the First Team: (D-) – Davey is a hard worker but just isn’t good enough to make the first team. Like Ake, he has a world of competition ahead of him and he isn’t even the best centre-back on the U21 team. His potential likely ends at making a Championship team or a bottom table Premier League team at best.
Aziz Deen-Conteh: Age 19
Player He Plays Like: Gael Clichy – Like Clichy, Deen-Conteh likes to get forward but is a decent defender as well. He is pacey and likes to get up the pitch and is a danger going forward. Deen-Conteh has played on the wings as well as at striker, which has given him a strong ability to finish.
Chances of Making the First Team: (C-) – Deen-Conteh is probably one of the better left-backs in the U21 league but newly contracted Ryan Bertrand will hold the spot down for many years to come after Ashley Cole leaves. In addition to that, Chelsea have been searching for left-back options, including Luke Shaw, which might limit Deen-Conteh’s future chances.
Todd Kane: Age 19
Player He Plays Like: Kyle Walker – Todd Kane is the type of player that will catch anyone’s eye on first glance. He is an extremely hard worker, pacey, smart and a solid defender. He even had a goal scoring record of over .36/game during one season from the right-back position. He is one of the most attack-minded full-backs in the world. He was also promoted to captain above Chalobah at the start of the season.
Chances of Making the First Team: (A-) – Kane was one of three players (the other two were Chalobah and Blackman) that traveled with the first team for the Champions League Final. There are high expectations for the Kane as he is arguably Chelsea’s best and most consistent youth player. He is a highlight reel at one of the most unusual positions.
Adam Nditi: Age 18
Player He Plays Like: Ben Assou-Ekotto – Spurs supporters are rarely happy with Assou-Ekotto just like Chelsea supporters hold their breath whenever Nditi is in charge of defending. In Nditi’s defense, he isn’t a natural defender but a player forced to adapt to a new role that doesn’t suit him well. He can get forward but he’s a liability on defense.
Chances of Making the First Team: (F) – It’s hard to completely discount any player’s chances of making the first team but it will take a miracle for Nditi to ever play first team for Chelsea. He is great at getting forward but is highly inconsistent and can be a nightmare defensively.
Archange Nkumu: Age 18
Player He Plays Like: Jeffrey Bruma – Calling a player Bruma is a compliment and insult at the same time. Nkumu was once a very promising player but he has not made the best of the opportunities given. He had potential to be a solid option anywhere along the back line or in the midfield but has just been overshadowed by other players.
Chances of Making the First Team: (F) – He’s behind Ake, Davey and Pappoe on the U21 depth chart. He filled in nicely when needed during Chelsea’s Youth FA Cup run last season but he struggles for playing time as it is.
Daniel Pappoe: Age 18
Player He Plays LIke: Robert Huth – Huth was a huge success in the Chelsea Academy but was fighting against some of the best centre-backs in Chelsea history for playing time. Pappoe is a big strong defender like Huth but his career has been plagued with injuries. He currently sits third on the depth chart behind Davey and Ake but, if he remains healthy, he could be a change of pace from our current squad.
Chances of Making the First Team: (D) – Despite sitting behind Davey on the depth chart, Pappoe is a very interesting prospect. Currently standing at 6’5″, he will not be beaten on set-pieces. He has a world of potential if he can polish up his game. A lot of his future will be determined on the ability to stay fit.