Despite the big-name signings of Timo Werner, Hakim Ziyech and the increased possibility of Kai Havertz joining the squad prior to the start of the 2020-21 Premier League season, there is no doubt that Frank Lampard will continue to give youth a chance.
Mason Mount, who only last year was playing in the Championship with Derby County, has arguably been Chelsea’s player of the season.
The rise of Tammy Abraham and Reece James has also been promising and Blues fans are finally seeing first-hand what the renowned academy has to offer.
Taken under Morris’ wing
Nine academy players have been given their debuts this season under the new era of Lampard and Jody Morris, but if Chelsea had not capitulated to a 3-0 defeat at Sheffield United on 11 July, a 17-year-old Lewis Bate could have made it double figures.
On the day of the away trip at Bramall Lane, assistant manager Morris pulled Bate to one side to tell him that he was going to be named as a substitute for the game. A huge moment for the Englishman so early on in his career.
Bate is a combative midfielder with an eye for a defence-splitting forward pass, but coming in at 5ft 6” tall, you would be forgiven for thinking that stronger, more physical players might easily bully him off the ball. Yet, as some youth games have proven this season, he is capable of holding his own and making strong challenges when needed.
It is worth remembering that Morris himself was only 5ft 5” tall, made his Premier League debut at 17 and was a feisty midfielder who went on to make 173 appearances for the first team between 1996 and 2003. Perhaps Morris sees a bit of himself in Bate?
Remember the name
After progressing through the development centre programme, Bate signed for Chelsea as an Under-9. He played six times for the Under-18s in his first season as a scholar and represented England up to Under-17 level, most recently at the European Championship finals in 2018.
In October 2019, he signed his first professional contract with Chelsea and made his development squad debut against Tottenham Hotspur in January 2020, after appearing regularly for the under-19s in the UEFA Youth League campaign. In total, Bate made 28 appearances and scored four goals throughout the season.
There are 20 places available for the FA Cup Final against Arsenal on Saturday so there is a real possibility that Bate could be included as one of the nine substitutes.
There is still a lot to learn, but just how highly he is regarded by the club at such a young age, highlights what a promising future he has ahead of him.