Chelsea missed a trick on Eddie Nketiah

Chelsea‘s expansive pool of talent dwelling at the rich hub of the Cobham academy has been the breeding centre of some of England’s finest talents over modern times.

The likes of Reece James, Declan Rice, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori all played their formative years in west London, but the lengthy list could weave its way through many more top talents before hitting a dead end, with a few more under-the-surface gems having previously been on the Blues’ books.

One particular former prodigy who – perhaps unbeknownst to many – nearly earned a professional contract with Chelsea is Eddie Nketiah, who is currently spearheading Arsenal’s Premier League title charge following a long-term injury to £45m summer signing Gabriel Jesus, who has been sidelined since the 2022 World Cup.

Would Chelsea have benefitted from keeping Nketiah?

Nketiah joined the fold at Hale End after being deemed ‘too small‘ to forge a successful career at Chelsea, but fast forward to the present and he has proven to be a valuable utility option for Mikel Arteta‘s high-flying and youthful squad.

Having scored nine goals and supplied one assist from just 17 starts across all competitions this term, Nketiah has been the perfect understudy to Jesus and a solid replacement since the latter’s injury.

Chelsea seemingly have a perpetual line of young forwards pushing for a place in the senior setup, but the £100k-per-week Gunner’s exploits hint that he might well have found success at Stamford Bridge, had he been provided an opportunity by the west London club.

Should Chelsea have kept hold of Nketiah?





Take Tammy Abraham, for example. The now 25-year-old, another successful product of the Chelsea academy, scored 30 goals and provided 12 assists from 82 outings for the Blues – winning the Champions League along the way – before departing for Jose Mourinho’s AS Roma in a £34m deal in 2021.

Had he been given astute nurturing and a platform to slowly and incrementally put the building blocks into place and solidify the foundation of his striking career, Nketiah could well have borne fruit for Chelsea. Now standing at 5 foot 10, it appears that the hierarchy at SW6 blundered with their dismissiveness of his small stature in his teenage years.

Given that the Blues’ top scorers across all competitions this season – Raheem Sterling and Kai Havertz – boast only six goals apiece, there is clearly space for a new talismanic force in west London despite the exorbitant spending spree under the ownership of Todd Boehly.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Nketiah’s former team-mate at the Emirates Stadium, has managed just three goals for Graham Potter’s side; and it’s hard to argue that the “clinical” Englishman (as dubbed by Goal’s Lawrence Baidoo) wouldn’t have made a mark on a beleagured Chelsea crop who sit tenth in the league with just three wins from their last 15 games across all competitions.

Chelsea can’t change the past, but the powers at Stamford Bridge would certainly welcome a homegrown centre-forward talent of Nketiah and Abraham’s ilk right now.