This series imagines a world where Roman Abramovich decided he wanted Chelsea to only use youth players, and players who were produced by the academy. You can read the first part here. The second part here.
When January comes, the transfer ban is lifted, and Chelsea swoop straight away for Jeremie Boga, activating his buy-back clause on the 1st of the month and slotting straight into the team in the FA Cup Third Round a few days later. Jerome Blackman is also fit and ready to play as a slight upgrade on Jamie Cumming in goal.
Within days Ryan Bertrand and Dominic Solanke have arrived to join Boga as new signings. Solanke’s unbelievable career trajectory of failing upwards continues, and he’s signed for a princely fee.
He will have to accept a backup role to Tammy Abraham, who has played a crazy number of games with no issues this season. Solanke can also be played out wide, in a pinch.
Bournemouth have to accept a £40m bid for Nathan Ake because of a buy-back clause, but the Dutch international is reluctant to move because of how well his club are doing in the FA Cup.
Boga and Bertrand start the next league game against Leicester and the former scores a beautiful left footed strike in a 2-0 win. Billy Gilmour has played a lot this season but he’s struggled with the pace of the league. Conor Gallagher has played more and more as the season has gone on, alongside Mason Mount with Ethan Ampadu behind
Callum Hudson-Odoi has had injury problems and Dujon Sterling has taken advantage of plenty of game time to work his way into playing regularly at right wing or right back, with Izzy Brown and Charly Musonda not performing when given their chances.
Ake is finally signed after Chelsea knock Bournemouth out of his beloved FA Cup and crush his dreams – just 5 days before the end of the window. He slots right in to the back 4, and Ruben Loftus-Cheek sits on the bench and then finally starts his first game against Aston Villa in February. With the exception of Tomori playing at right back to cover for the injured Reece James, this is the lineup that looks set to see us through most of the rest of this season.
Despite all that January spending, the club’s wages are much lower than the teams fighting for the top 4. Tammy Abraham and a handful of others are given long extensions to keep them engaged and motivated.
Now with the squad about as strong as it will ever be, Chelsea get stuck into the second half of the season. Finishing third in their Champions League group may prove to be a blessing as it allows a run in the Europa League, more appropriate for this young side and a chance to boost our reputation with the board. Our first opposition in that competition are St. Etienne, and they are are defeated comfortably with Solanke scoring his first goals for the club off the bench.
Ake, Boga and Bertrand fit in straight away as regular starters, giving the whole first team a more solid look, with the previously incumbent youngsters dropping to the bench to provide excellent cover. Ruben Loftus-Cheek adds even more quality to an exceptional-looking selection of central midfielders – Tino Anjorin even begins training as a left winger to provide depth there and because of the competition in the middle.
Suddenly, Chelsea are starting to look more like a Premier League level squad. There’s a way to go before we’re competing at the very top, but if we can keep our wonderkids improving we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with.
In the league, wins and draws keep coming and victory over Arsenal and then Everton in the FA Cup means a semi-final on the horizon with Liverpool – who have battered us twice in the league already. In the Europa League meanwhile, we now face a tough task against Lazio. It could be a very exciting end to the season for Chelsea fans, who can’t have been expecting much back in August.