Chelsea have their transfer ban to thank for the impressive form of academy trio Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori.
That’s according to former Blues striker Tony Cascarino, who is delighted the club are finally putting faith in their supremely talented youth but admits they wouldn’t be anywhere near the first team if it weren’t for their inability to sign any new players over the summer.
Frank Lampard came into tricky circumstances when he was appointed as manager in July, knowing that he was unable to strengthen his squad in the transfer window.
Instead he worked with what he had and has promoted a number of Chelsea’s talented young players to the senior team – and to say the move has paid off is an understatement.
All 11 of Chelsea’s Premier League goals this season have been scored by those same three players, all academy graduates, all under the age of 21 and all sent out on loan by the club last term.
Their form will not have surprised their boss, who worked with Mount and Tomori at Derby County last season while he kept a close eye on Abraham as he scored 26 goals for Championship rivals Aston Villa.
But even though Lampard’s arrival would have boosted their chances of finally getting game time in a Blues shirt, Cascarino believes they wouldn’t be playing this big a role in the team if they had been able to bring players in.
“When we had the ‘Class of 92’ at Manchester United we applauded them for bringing all these young players through,” he said on Sunday’s Weekend Sports Breakfast. “Fergie was very fortunate to have such a group of players coming through at the same time.
“I’ve always been frustrated of Chelsea having so much success in the youth system but never having that conveyor belt of bringing those players through into the first team.
“Tammy was one of a good number of players who probably wouldn’t have been in the team if Chelsea had a transfer budget. They probably wouldn’t have been anywhere near the first team, Tammy would have gone on loan somewhere else.
“So let’s give Lampard some credit here because he has got choices at Chelsea, their squad is big enough not to play these young players. Olivier Giroud could easily have played at centre-forward yesterday.
“At the start of the season it probably would have been Giroud first choice, Michy Batshuayi second and Tammy third, but Tammy has become the number one choice in a matter of three games. That’s credit to him but also the manager, because Frank has chosen to make that decision.
“Then you’ve got Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi waiting in the wings and Ruben Loftus-Cheek who is older than the others but you’d like to think he’ll play a lot this season.
“I’ve always thought it would have been such a mistake to have had all these great academy players and them not to have some sort of say in Chelsea’s future in the next five years, so I’m delighted.”