In football, some clubs are known for developing young talent and giving prospects a chance to break through. And some clubs are known as graveyards for young talent, whether because of a refusal to give prospects a chance or because of a hoarding of talent that eventually turns counterproductive.
Chelsea have become known as something of the latter for young players, a club that stockpiles talent and then loans that talent out endlessly. For the club, it makes sense. It’s a system that mostly pays for itself with sales of the players who don’t quite make it. For the players, it’s like being in a meat grinder.
“I was at Chelsea from the age of seven to 14, but then I told them I wanted to look at my options because I didn’t see a pathway to become a first-team player there,” 16-year-old striker Rhian Brewster said of his choice to leave London behind in favour of a move north to Liverpool’s academy two seasons ago.
“There were a few clubs interested but once I knew Liverpool were one of them it was an easy choice. Liverpool is a club that does give young players opportunities and it’s a great feeling to play for this club. I love it up here, [and] all I want to do is one day play for Liverpool’s first team.”
After playing with the U18s last season, the 16-year-old has made regular appearances with the U23s this year, and scored in his debut U23 match against Tottenham. Now, Brewster’s focus is on fully adapting to the new level he’s playing at. And after that, the target becomes the first team.
“Playing at U23 level is a lot different than playing for the U18s,” Brewster added. “You get a lot of chances to score when you play for the U18s but it’s a big step up playing for the U23s. I just have to keep working hard for the team and give my all. I know I will get chances in this team.”