Former Super Eagles of Nigeria defender and Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo insists he does not understand the high praise for Tottenham’s youth policy.
Emenalo claims only Harry Kane has made an impression at first-team level and says Spurs have bought most of the other youngsters currently challenging for the Premier League title.
Emenalo who was in Nigeria’s USA ’94 World Cup squad was responding to criticism of Chelsea’s academy policy, which comes despite the fact the club have just retained the UEFA Youth League and have won four of the past six FA Youth Cups.
Chelsea play Manchester City in the first leg of this year’s FA Youth Cup final on Friday, and insists young players are given as much of an opportunity at Stamford Bridge as at Spurs.
Sky Sports on Friday quoted Emenalo on his feelings about the Chelsea criticisms.
“In reality it is just the one key player, Harry Kane. Dele Alli they bought, Eric Dier they bought, Tom Carroll is a fringe player. So with all the hoopla about Tottenham, it’s just the one player,” Emenalo said.
“So we try to remind them it’s not just a Chelsea problem. We want them to be patient because [the parents] want it quicker than the boys want it or the boys are ready to take it.”
Two players who have stepped up to the Blues first-team this season have been Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Bertrand Traore, while Todd Kane is expected to make the breakthrough next season following a successful loan with NEC Nijmegen.
Emenalo also has high hopes for Andreas Christensen, Tammy Abraham, Jake Clarke-Salter and Fikayo Tomori, who has Nigerian parentage, becoming first-team regulars at Chelsea.
“Christensen will be a superb player,” Emenalo said. “I see on a regular basis that Jake Clarke-Salter and Fikayo Tomori are going to be outstanding players.
“They are young and I don’t know if they decide to get fat. There’s nothing I can do about that. If they continue the way they are, they will make it because they have great talent, there’s no doubt about that.
“There is a coordinated effort from everybody to want to make this happen. Not just because it feels good, and it is nice to have a backbone the fans can relate to and support.
“But with the investment we are making and where we think the game is going and the competition that we have, you can’t just buy your way out of trouble all the time.
“We have a philosophy in the academy to teach them to play the right way, the way we think a big team should play. And ultimately the only way they can play that gives them a chance to play for our first-team.”