Chelsea prodigies who failed to rank and where they are now, including Kakuta, McEachran and Kenedy – The Sun
These have been the children of Chelsea in recent years since Frank Lampard promoted many during his tenure.
Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Reece James have all benefited massively from the club legend’s leadership with several young stars still involved under his replacement Thomas Tuchel.
But this is a club which are also known to have caught and encouraged some of the best English footballers, only so that they do not reach the level.
SunSport looks back on seven of the most memorable prodigies that shone early on before they ran out.
The name will remain synonymous with controversy off the pitch at Stamford Bridge, but Kakuta was once the club’s brightest youngster.
Chelsea were hit with a 16-month transfer ban by Fifa in 2009 for allegedly prompting Kakuta to break his contract with French club Lens in 2007.
The move seemed worth it as Kakuta won the Academy Player of the Year award, finished top scorer on the youth squad and won the European Under-19 Championship with France .
When he made his first-team debut in 2009 after a four-month suspension from Fifa, a Mail on Sunday The article was titled: “Chelsea’s New Wonder Boy Worth All the Fuss.”
A decade later Kakuta signed with French club Amiens in what is the 13th professional club in his career and after impressing there the 30-year-old returned to Lens after impressing on loan there- low.
He was on loan at six clubs for six years with the Chelsea first team before eventually joining Sevilla.
There were a few years in China and a return to Spain before moving to France.
Embarrassingly, Kakuta was embroiled in a court case in 2014 when a broke ex-footballer impersonated him to fund a luxury lifestyle.
Medi Abalimba has been jailed after racking up huge bills at hotels and nightclubs pretending to be the ex-Chelsea star.
In 2010, 17-year-old McEachran became the brightest young talent in Chelsea academy.
The Blues fought Real Madrid and Manchester United to sign the teenager.
McEachran was to evolve from starlet to star at Chelsea and, in turn, be Lampard’s crown successor in midfield.
Then England U21 boss Stuart Pearce said: “He has really exceptional talent, similar to Jack Wilshere, and that bodes well for England.
“If Josh and Jack wore Spanish shirts, you would worship them.”
The arrival of Andre Villas-Boas at Stamford Bridge in 2011 halted McEachran’s progress and he looked for loan opportunities.
He was sent to five clubs in three years, from Watford to Wigan, but has struggled to settle into any.
In 2015 he broke free from Chelsea’s loan army and joined Brentford on a permanent contract, a move that saw its ups and downs until his release in the summer of 2019.
McEachran, now 28, later moved to Birmingham City but only played eight league appearances before signing for MK Dons for free in March.
The repercussions of Traore’s move to Chelsea in 2013 were felt at Stamford Bridge during Lampard’s reign.
Lampard’s inability to sign when he took office was due to the fact that the Blues had been hit with a transfer ban linked to the arrival of Traore in 2013.
His move to Chelsea was one of the key pieces of evidence for Fifa in an investigation into the club’s signing of foreign players under the age of 18.
Fifa said it found violations in 29 of the 92 cases investigated.
In the end, Traore only played 16 times for Chelsea and left for Lyon for £ 8.8million in 2017.
And in France, he impressed, scoring 21 goals in 87 games for the club.
His return to form has earned Traoré, 26, a return to the Premier League with Aston Villa in 2020.
When a 16-year-old Rajkovic signed for Chelsea in 2005, it was seen as a giant coup.
The center-back, tipped to succeed John Terry in defense, had spent the previous summer at Arsenal youth camp.
The majority of the big European beasts were looking to sign the talented defender, including Manchester United, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Inter Milan and Monaco.
A work permit blocked Rajkovic’s progress at Chelsea, so he was sent on loan to the Netherlands, PSV, Twente and then Vitesse Arnhem.
Villas-Boas gave the Serbian center-back his first start for Chelsea, in a closed-door friendly against the Wycombe Wanderers in 2011.
That same year, Rajkovic was sold to Hamburg under a £ 1.8million deal.
His career never really caught on, making just 42 appearances for the German side in four years.
Rajkovic spent three years with Italian club Palermo but was released after finishing last in Serie B.
The once wanted boy briefly plied his trade in Russia with FC Lokomotiv Moscow, but his contract was terminated earlier this year by mutual agreement.
He now plays in his native country for TSC Bačka Topola.
Jose Mourinho has made it clear of Solanke’s potential at Chelsea.
In 2014, during his second stint as Stamford Bridge boss, Mourinho named Solanke to a list of players who would represent their country in a few years.
The now Roma boss said: “Right now we have players who will be Chelsea players. And when they become Chelsea players, they will become England players, almost certainly.”
Completely understandable given Solanke’s success in the youth ranks.
He was England Junior Player of the Year in 2014, Chelsea Academy Player of the Year the following season and made his first-team debut at just 17 years old.
Solanke was the prolific goalscorer who helped Chelsea win successive FA Youth Cups in 2014 and 2015, as well as a Uefa Youth League.
But four years ago, at the age of 19, Solanke opted for a fresh start having seen no first-team opportunities present themselves.
He headed to Merseyside with Liverpool where he made 21 appearances in Jurgen Klopp’s first-team but only scored on the last day of the 2017-18 season.
Bournemouth shelled out £ 19million for the 24-year-old in 2019 and he is a key part of their squad pushing for a promotion to the Championship.
Liverpool star Andrew Robertson once described his then Celtic team-mate Feruz as the “golden boy” of Scottish youth football.
Feruz was snatched by Chelsea in 2011, at the age of 15, to become another star in the club’s Cobham academy.
But such a promise did not translate into success for the striker as he was loaned out to Crete, Blackpool, Hibernian, Royal Excel Mouscron and Swindon Town.
And when his contract at Chelsea ended in 2017, he was released.
Despite being only 26 years old, Feruz hasn’t had a club since and has created a brand of baseball caps in the meantime.
In five years as a Blues player, having been on so much loan, Feruz has only made 20 professional appearances and has not scored any goals.
Chelsea felt the striker, once the darling of Scottish youth football, had lost his potential.
The winger arrived in west London as a teenager from Fluminense in August 2015 and quickly scored his first League Cup goal for the club at Walsall in a 4-1 victory.
Later that season, in March, he only needed 39 seconds to break the deadlock in yet another victory at Norwich and ended up making 15 Premier League appearances for the club.
Hopes were high for his development to continue on loan at Watford, but he only managed to make one league appearance during a dismal stint at Vicarage Road.
Kenedy then traveled to Newcastle on what turned out to be an 18 month loan spell in January 2018 and he gained high profile experience with 38 Prem appearances.
Unfortunately for him, that fate also made him make history in a poor performance against Cardiff.
He became the first player since 2010 to play a full Prem first half without making a single pass before his time-out penalty was saved by Neil Etheridge.
Toon failed to make this move permanent and he then spent two seasons in Spain on loan at Getafe and then Granada.
The Brazilian has now returned to his homeland on loan to Flamengo in a move that could become permanent next summer for £ 8million.