Thomas Tuchel insists “the door is always open” for Chelsea’s academy players to make an impact in the first team, with Trevoh Chalobah the latest example of a young star successfully making the transition.
Tuchel spoke at length about Chalobah on Friday ahead of Chelsea’s game against London rivals Arsenal.
Chalobah, who is reportedly to be offered a new contract, “is a guy we absolutely want to keep”, Tuchel said.
The 22-year-old joined the Blues at the age of eight but had never featured for the senior side until this season when he was handed his chance under Tuchel following a loan with Lorient.
Through two games, Chalobah is one of only three Chelsea players to feature in every minute for the European champions, scoring a fine goal against Crystal Palace and securing a place in the squad for this campaign.
The defender, who can also play in midfield, is merely the latest example of an academy graduate succeeding, though.
Former coach Frank Lampard was credited with bringing through a number of homegrown stars, as Mason Mount played the most games (80) and minutes (5,868) and Tammy Abraham scored the most goals (29) in all competitions during his tenure.
But that trend has continued since Tuchel’s appointment, as no Chelsea player has featured more often than Reece James (30 appearances) while Mount’s six goals lead the way.
Abraham has left the club, as has Marc Guehi, while Billy Gilmour has gone out on loan, but Chalobah has joined James, Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek in Tuchel’s squad.
Asked if there was the opportunity for others to follow, Tuchel replied: “Always. Always, always, always. The door is always open. I love it and I truly believe that the supporters love it.
“The mix between big names, players from abroad, big personalities and famous players, the mix with academy guys, this is what makes the club special.
“When you look in the photo how we raised the trophy in the Champions League, there are so many boys in the academy on this photo. That makes it special and this is how it has to be. It is always about the mix.
“At the same time, there are no gifts on this kind of level. You have to earn your way, you have to overcome obstacles, you have to fight hard for it.
“If you want to make it at Chelsea, it’s so much harder than in most of the clubs in Europe. It’s simply like this, it’s a reality.
“We cannot start to be political and prefer somebody from the academy over another player if he does not provide the same level, because in the end we are here to win football games and to push the group to the highest level.
“But this is what Trevoh did and I’m more than happy to have him in the squad, more than happy about how he managed to make his way through to first-team football at this kind of level.
“He joined the academy at I think eight years old, and this is simply fantastic.
“I will always be happy to push players like this, but you have to take your heart into your hands and be brave and courageous enough to take responsibility when it’s there. We will never hold you down.
“If you come from the academy, if you can produce, if you are a nice guy, like Reecey, like Mason, like Trevoh, like Callum, we will never stop pushing you. We like it and I truly believe it has to be like this.
“But we cannot go through the door, we can just open it and show them the way. The guys have to go through it themselves.”