Bankrolled by Roman Abramovich’s millions and having the pulling power to sign the majority of players in world football, Chelsea have little excuse for not challenging for major honours.
In recent years the West London club’s transfer policy has involved signing countless young players, farming them out on loan and cherry picking one or two for the first-team squad over time.
This worked well for Thibuat Courtois, while it also lined the club’s pockets in the case of Romelu Lukaku.
However, the flaw in this system of constantly sending players out on loan and having too many on their books is the inability to properly assess someone’s development.
Kevin De Bruyne:
Sold by Mourinho at Chelsea.
Bought by Man City.
Goal & assist vs Mourinho's Man Utd. pic.twitter.com/crpPacgwiD
— Football Funnys (@FootballFunnys) September 11, 2016
This can lead to a player that potentially does not having a first-team future overstaying their ideal tenure at Stamford Bridge unnecessarily or a loaned star being allowed to leave before they can prove themselves in the club’s colours.
A classic example of the second point, which has come back to haunt the Blues, is the sale of Kevin De Bruyne.
Signed in 2012 from Genk for a £7 million fee, the Belgian was assessed as not ready for first-team football at the Bridge by Jose Mourinho and subsequently sent out on loan to Werder Bremen.
Sold two years after being purchased for £18 million, a tidy profit showed the Chelsea’s loan system was paying dividends…..right?
De Bruyne has gone on to become a world-class player at firstly Wolfsburg and now Manchester City, with an argument that the gifted attacking midfielder is one of the best players in European football.
EXPRESS Star midfielder 'an embarrassment' for Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho: KEVIN DE BRUYNE's rise t… https://t.co/vswejfqCXW
— Chelsea FC RSS Feeds (@CFCrss) September 18, 2016
For Chelsea to allow the 25-year-old to leave, without giving him a chance to showcase his abilities in their first team, shows the flaw in the system.
The Blues this season have 37 players out on loan at other clubs – it is simply too many for the Premier League side to keep on top off.
Looking at this system going forward, Chelsea would be advised to set a limit on the number of players on their books and focus on developing players for their first-team, rather than trying to cash-in on them after they excel elsewhere.