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    Atletico Madrid suffer shock defeat to Levante ahead of crunch Champions League clash with Chelsea on Tuesday

    ATLETICO MADRID will face Chelsea on a sticky run of form following a 2-0 defeat to Levante on Saturday.
    Without Kieran Trippier and Stefan Savic, Diego Simeone’s side shot themselves in the foot after half an hour at the Wanda Metropolitano.

    Luis Suarez was unable to secure a win for LaLiga leaders Atletico MadridCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Levante left the Spanish capital with all three points on SaturdayCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Geoffrey Kondogbia lost the ball on the 18-yard line to allow Jose Luis Morales a shot on goal.
    The veteran beat Jan Oblak with a powerful effort that arrowed in off the post, marking his 12th goal of the season.
    Luis Suarez, going into the game with seven goals in his last five, hit the post from a free-kick as Atleti chased a leveller.
    Simeone threw on Lyon loanee Moussa Dembele for his debut as well as Thomas Lemar, both having recovered from coronavirus.

    But Levante held firm and nabbed a second goal late on through Jorge de Frutos.
    With goalkeeper Oblak up for a 94th-minute corner, De Frutos intercepted a pass by his box and raced forward to the halfway line, before hitting the empty net with a long-range effort.
    The defeat left Atletico’s lead atop LaLiga at just six points, having used up their games in hand and with just one win in their last four.
    Los Colchoneros faced Levante twice in a week due to postponed fixtures earlier in the year, drawing 1-1 with the Valencians last Wednesday.

    This time El Comandante does give Levante the lead! 😱A deflection gave it a helping hand, but the visitors are 1-0 up against Atleti 👀 pic.twitter.com/197mIsJ78Z
    — Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) February 20, 2021

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    Next up are Chelsea on Tuesday night in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League tie.
    The Blues head into the Madrid match-up on good form and remain unbeaten under Thomas Tuchel, although they could only manage a 1-1 draw with Southampton.
    Coach Simeone stated his optimism that Atletico would get out of their rut and re-energise their title tilt.
    He told reporters: “These seasons are always the same, there are moments with difficulties.
    “It is the same for everyone. Those who are strong in bad moments are the ones who reach the goal.”
    ⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds

    👀 Jan Oblak goes up for the Atletico Madrid corner in search of a stoppage time equaliser……and it leads to a second for Levante as Jorge de Frutos slots home from close to the halfway line 😱 pic.twitter.com/teRMaT9gkj
    — Premier Sports 📺 (@PremierSportsTV) February 20, 2021

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    ‘Bold’ Thomas Tuchel was wrong to haul Callum Hudson-Odoi off and youngster will be ‘fuming’ says Joe Cole

    CHELSEA hero Joe Cole has described Thomas Tuchel’s decision to substitute Callum Hudson-Odoi after bringing him on as a big ‘gamble’.
    The 20-year-old was introduced at half-time of Saturday’s trip to Southampton with the Blues a goal down, replacing Tammy Abraham.

    Callum Hudson-Odoi was hooked by Thomas Tuchel 30 minutes into his performance against SouthamptonCredit: AFP

    But Hudson-Odoi’s day lasted just 30 minutes as Tuchel took him off for Hakim Ziyech in their bid for a winner, Mason Mount having levelled from the penalty spot.
    Cole told BT Sport: “It’s a very strong way to go and it’s his first spiky moment.
    “We knew from [Tuchel’s] reputation that he is strong and he will make decisions and that is bold.
    “Callum wasn’t having a great game, but you’re a moments player in that position.

    “We watch [Lionel] Messi and he can be strolling around then give you a moment of magic. I’m not comparing him to Messi but Callum can give you a moment of magic.
    “For him to say he wasn’t happy with his energy is a bold move from Tuchel and it’s a gamble. The Chelsea dressing room can be fragmented.
    “I just question whether it was unnecessary to upset a player who could start on Tuesday night against Atletico. Maybe he gives the performance of his life and it’s managerial genius.
    “But he’s a fantastic young player that will be fuming today. He was fuming walking off the pitch.

    “I was not happy with the energy, and the attitude on counter-pressing.””We decided to take him off again because we demand a lot.”Thomas Tuchel explains his reasoning for taking off Callum Hudson-Odoi having brought him on at half-time…🎙 @lynseyhipgrave1 pic.twitter.com/gOMJo49F7a
    — Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 20, 2021

    “Tuchel’s made the decision, It might be a message to his team but it’s brave because Callum is not going to be happy with that.
    “It’s bold and I’ve not seen many managers do it this early on. He wants to stamp his authority and I’m not sure it’s the right thing.
    “I thought Callum could have changed the game with that one moment.”
    Hudson-Odoi had been an impressive part of Chelsea’s revival under Tuchel, adding three assists and a goal under the German.
    Speaking afterwards, the coach criticised the youngster’s ‘attitude’ but insisted that the episode will not hamper his chances of starting against Atletico Madrid in midweek.
    Tuchel said: “We brought in Hudson but I was not happy with the energy and with the attitude in counter-pressing.

    Joe Cole, who spent seven years at Chelsea as a player, questioned the decisionCredit: PA:Empics Sport

    “So we decided to take him off again because we demand a lot and 100 per cent and he was not right in this shape. It’s a hard decision today, tomorrow it’s forgotten and he has possibilities to start against Atletico.”
    He added: “It was hard to create chances and we needed counter-pressing to force errors for the second ball and get an easy chance.
    “We had to be sharp with counter-pressing and I didn’t feel this from Callum today. I did not feel it, but I trust him.
    “I sometimes take these decisions to win games. Mistakes are not a problem but we cannot lack energy.”
    ⚽ Read our Football live blog for the very latest news from around the grounds

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    Callum Hudson-Odoi subbed on then off again as ruthless Tuchel blasts his energy and risks publicly humiliating him

    CALLUM HUDSON-ODOI was subbed on and then off again in Chelsea’s draw with Southampton in a risky show of power from manager Thomas Tuchel.
    Blues boss Tuchel confirmed Hudson-Odoi was taken off for tactical reasons, after eyebrows were raised over the decision.

    Callum Hudson-Odoi was subbed on and then off against SouthamptonCredit: AFP

    Callum Hudson-Odoi pictured coming off

    Hudson-Odoi came on at half-time, replacing Tammy Abraham, but lasted until only the 76th minute.
    Tuchel told BT Sports: “We brought on Hudson but I was not happy with the attitude, energy and counter-pressing so we took him off because I demand a lot.
    “He was not in a position to help us. It’s tough, but tomorrow it’s forgotten and he has possibilities to start against Atletico.”
    Takumi Minamino opened the scoring in the first-half before Mason Mount converted the penalty he won on 54 minutes.

    Hudson-Odoi was evidently and understandably devastated after coming off and cut a disappointed figure as he trudged up the stands to return to his seat.
    Tuchel said: “We had chances and possibilities to take a deserved win but sometimes it’s like this in football.
    “In the last 20 minutes I was not happy, we were not decisive, aggressive or clinical enough to create big chances.
    “Decision-making was not good today so it was hard and if you need a penalty to score once it tells the story.

    “I’m not worried about conceding the goal.

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    “That’s not the problem, for me the frustration was the last 20 metres and I had the feeling we end our own attacks ourselves with balls over-hit, balls under-hit, we slip, we cannot take a two against one.
    “It was not good enough today.”
    Tuchel’s decision to hook the youngster after just 31 minutes will be a humiliating one for the young forward – with the fall out a risk the manager must have thought worth taking.
    Winger Hudson-Odoi replaced striker Abraham at half-time with Timo Werner moving from the left to the middle.
    But with 15 minutes to go he was replaced by Hakim Ziyech.
    The substitution came just half an hour after the England international was brought onto the pitch.
    Tuchel admitted he was not worried about how the call will affect Hudson-Odoi’s confidence.
    And he revealed the playmaker could still play in the Champions League against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

    Callum Hudson-Odoi lasted only 31 minutes against SouthamptonCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel looks onCredit: AFP
    Tuchel said on beIN Sports: “It was a hard decision but nothing that will stick for long. Tomorrow it will be forgotten and we will prepare for Atletico.
    “Everyone has to understand that I take decisions to win games and there is no problem that he makes mistakes and has a bad game, but we can’t lack energy even ten percent or five percent.
    “He knows what I demand from him and when he doesn’t reach this level, it’s a hard decision.
    “He has to accept it, swallow it. Then no problem.”
    Former Chelsea Premier League winner-turned pundit Joe Cole said: “For him to say he wasn’t happy with his energy is a bold move from Tuchel and it’s a gamble.
    “The Chelsea dressing room can be fragmented. I just question whether it was unnecessary to upset a player who could start on Tuesday night against Atletico.
    “Maybe he gives the performance of his life and it’s managerial genius.
    “But he’s a fantastic young player that will be fuming today. He was fuming walking off the pitch.

    “I was not happy with the energy, and the attitude on counter-pressing.””We decided to take him off again because we demand a lot.”Thomas Tuchel explains his reasoning for taking off Callum Hudson-Odoi having brought him on at half-time…🎙 @lynseyhipgrave1 pic.twitter.com/gOMJo49F7a
    — Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 20, 2021

    “Tuchel’s made the decision, It might be a message to his team but it’s brave because Callum is not going to be happy with that.
    “It’s bold and I’ve not seen many managers do it this early on. He wants to stamp his authority and I’m not sure it’s the right thing.
    “I thought Callum could’ve changed the game with that one moment. We lacked penetration in the last 20 metres.”
    The 20-year-old has become regular under Tuchel since the German replaced club legend Frank Lampard in January.
    Hudson-Odoi has played both out wide as wingback or in a front three as well as in the middle as a second striker.
    He has featured in all five of Tuchel’s Premier League matches and spoke before the Southampton game about improving his goals and assists.

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    Chelsea verdict: Blues lacked imagination in attack and heads dropped quickly again apart from Kante and Mount

    THERE is no doubt that since the arrival of Thomas Tuchel at Chelsea, we have seen vast tactical improvements and they have looked a different team on occasions.
    Tuchel is unbeaten since he arrived six games ago continuing today with a draw at Southampton.

    N’Golo Kante tried to drag his side to victoryCredit: News Group Newspapers Ltd

    He has switched the formation and injected a new tactical approach that has made this Chelsea team look a lot more confident and emphatic, despite still lacking in the final third which has been a problem for the last few years.
    But today’s draw with Southampton was a case of taking one leap forward, but about five big leaps backwards and they showed shades of the poorer assets that we have seen from the last two years under Frank Lampard.
    They looked lacklustre and unimaginative in attack, and they were very slow on the ball and slow to react to the second balls.
    We had grown used to seeing this a lot during Lampard’s reign, players dropping heads and dropping effort when things are not going their way.

    And once again it unfortunately shone through at St Mary’s this afternoon.
    It frustrates me when we are 1-0 down or 1-1 and I see players jogging around the pitch.
    This is something that we have not really seen in the last six games after the introduction of Tuchel, but once again today it was evident to see it.
    Only really Mason Mount and N’Golo Kante can say they gave it 100 per cent effort today, not many others can hold their heads high at all.

    Thomas Tuchel was raging at times during the draw with SouthamptonCredit: Reuters

    The lack of ability to do anything dangerous in the final third is very concerning and you could see the visible frustrations on Tuchel throughout the game.
    He cut a very animated and angry figure all afternoon, and that alone says it all.
    Chelsea could even have lost the game late on when Southampton put a bit more pressure on attacking.
    But this was Chelsea’s game to win all day and they bossed possession, but did nothing at all with it, they even had to rely on a penalty to get the equaliser.
    There was a lack of intensity, a lack of creativity, and a lack of anything that resembled a threatening final ball in the attacking third.
    Tuchel will be more than concerned as he heads into a tough run of matches, even tougher than he has faced so far in his Chelsea reign.

    Mason Mount netted Chelsea’s equaliser from the penalty spotCredit: AP:Associated Press
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    Chelsea wonderkid Jude Soonsup-Bell, 17, scored four goals in a FA Youth Cup tie and is next academy star set to shine

    GOALS haven’t been hard to come by for Chelsea’s impressive U18 team – averaging three a game in the Premier League.
    And in November last year they hit a Barnsley side for eight in an FA Youth Cup win – with one boy star of the show.

    Jude Soonsup-Bell, 17, grabs the match ball after his four goal haul against Barnsley in the FA Youth CupCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    A cheeky backheel goal was the pick of the bunch in Chelsea’s 8-1 winCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Jude Soonsup-Bell, 17, bagged four goals that day, including an outrageous backheel – scored after racing onto a through ball, cutting inside a Tykes centre half, drawing the goalkeeper and then applying the cheeky finish with his back to goal.
    Even more impressive was the fact it was the first time a youngster had managed a four goal haul in an FA Youth Cup tie in 59 years.
    And in the Premier League, Soonsup-Bell has been just as prolific netting 11 goals in nine appearances.
    Any wonder in January, as soon as he turned 17 and a month after scoring the U23’s in a 6-1 rout of Manchester United, the teen sensation was handed his first pro contract.

    MADE IN SWINDON
    Born and raised in Chippenham, Wiltshire – Soonsup-Bell was originally scouted by Swindon Town, who he joined aged nine.
    But his development was so rapid that by the age of 12 he was trialling with Chelsea, Southampton and Reading – with Swindon understanding the talent needed to play at a greater level.
    Chelsea’s youth coaches needed only a few training sessions to suss out Soonsup-Bell was a rough diamond they would polish for the future.
    An undisclosed sum was paid to Swindon, with the boy still under contract, and it was to Cobham where he would continue his football education.

    Soon, coaches there saw attributes that would have him better suited to playing as a centre forward, rather than central midfield, where he originally played. He has prospered upfront ever since.

    Soonsup-Bell, with his proud mum Hannah, joined Chelsea as a 12-year-oldCredit: Instagram @judebell_

    Goals are Soonsup-Bell’s forte, and he has 11 in nine Premier League U18 games this termCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    His impressive form has seen him called up to Chelsea’s Premier League 2 team, where he plays for the U23 side tooCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    SETTING TARGETS
    A striker is measured by how many goals he scored, and ambitious Soonsup-Bell buries strikes for fun.
    Last season he scored 26 goals in just 17 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea’s various youth teams.
    He uses previous youth striker’s records as his motivation – vowing to shatter them.
    First team striker Tammy Abraham scored 72 goals from 2013-16 for the U18, U19, U21 and U23 teams – and that’s the yardstick Soonsup-Bell is measuring himself on.
    And he’s reportedly confident he can beat that total.
    LION IN WAITING
    With Asian heritiage, his mum Hannah is from Thailand and he lists his favourite dish as her green curry, Soonsup-Bell might not representing England at full level.

    This year, as soon as he turned 17, Soonsup-Bell inked a pro contract with the Blues that’ll keep him at Stamford Bridge till 2023Credit: Instagram @judebell_

    Soonsup-Bell trains with the Chelsea first team – taking on Fikayo TomoriCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    High-flying Soonsup-Bell is set for a big future in the gameCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    But the Three Lions have already made sure he’s felt a part of their youth set-up and he has been capped at U15 and U16 level.
    Spectacularly, he introduced himself on the international stage in a friendly against Spain – scoring a hat-trick in a 3-1 win.

    That made him England’s second highest ever scorer at that level – alongside Jadon Sancho, who managed six goals in seven games.
    Had the coronavirus pandemic not interrupted proceedings and cancelled a year of the footballing calendar at U16 level internationally, he could have beaten Louie Barry’s record of seven strikes.
    You get the feeling, despite missing out on that record, he will surely break more in the future.

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    Chelsea fans fears N’Golo Kante will QUIT after being left on bench AGAIN as he struggles to get into starting XI

    CHELSEA fans fear N’golo Kante could be on his way after being left on the sidelines by Thomas Tuchel.
    The midfielder is yet to start in the league under his new boss, having missed the whole of January through injury.

    N’Golo Kante struck fear into a selection of Chelsea fans who think he could quitCredit: Rex Features

    After footage emerged of Tuchel congratulating Kante after he was subbed on against Newcastle, some supporters online suggested the 29-year-old appeared unhappy.
    One said: “Can Tuchel start using Kante again as a starter. Kante doesn’t seem too happy after the full time against Newcastle.
    “If Kante doesn’t start and keep getting bench he will push to leave during the summer.”
    Another said: “Kante is quiet but don’t take him for granted, benched him and he would push for the exit door from Chelsea.

    “He knows how to exit, he did it easily at Leicester. So I advice tuchel to start using him we lose him.”
    One added: “Na this is sad. He’s sad. Kante wants to play more than 15 mins here and there.”

    Kante is quiet but don’t take him for granted, benched him and he would push for the exit door from Chelsea. He knows how to exit, he did it easily at Leicester. So I advice tuchel to start using him we lose him
    — Adams Taofeek (@souladamstweets) February 15, 2021

    Can Tuchel start using Kante again as a starter. Kante doesn’t seem too happy after the full time against Newcastle. If Kante doesn’t start and keep getting bench he will push to leave during the summer.
    — Melvyn Chong (@MelvynChong1) February 17, 2021

    Kante could be sold if he really is unhappy and we get a big offer.I’m sure we will want to keep him but we could get an offer.Jorginho could be sold if we get a good offer and he wants regular football.At least one of those two could go.
    — TheScore (@TheScore01) February 5, 2021

    Na this is sad. He’s sad. Kante wants to play more than 15 mins here and there. Free my man Ngolo https://t.co/6Ey9qS7snE
    — Mo | ⴰⵍⵃⴰⵏⵉⴼ 🇹🇼🇺🇦🇭🇰 (@Mg_v14) February 15, 2021

    Kante has made three straight appearances off the bench since returning to the squad.

    Jorginho and Mateo Kovacic have been the preferred pivot pair in Tuchel’s midfield.
    But the ex-PSG manager – who tried to sign Kante while in France – has reassured fans the World Cup winner fits into his system at Chelsea.

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    He said: “I think N’Golo fits into any manager’s plans on the planet.
    I was desperate to have him in my teams in the past. He is a big Chelsea player and one of the best midfielders in the world.
    “So I am so lucky to have him in my squad and that he is back fit again.
    “If you look at his performances coming back from injury, we put him on the pitch against Tottenham with no minutes.
    “That was really difficult but he helped everybody on the pitch with his support, mentality, and quality, which is what he does.

    Thomas Tuchel says N’Golo Kante fits into his plans at ChelseaCredit: AFP or llicensors AFP or Licensors
    “If you see the step he took in training between the Tottenham match and Sheffield United, the 30 minutes he played was a huge performance.
    “We switched to a three in the midfield and this helped us escape the pressure and be in control of the game again.
    “I am very, very impressed. We’ve known him for many years very well because we’ve come from a French club.
    “We were very impressed from the television but to see him live, to see how he works, how humble he is, the quality he gives to the team, it’s a gift to be his coach. I am so happy.”

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    Chelsea ratings: Mateo Kovacic stars in midfield but Mason Mount wasteful against Newcastle

    CHELSEA bagged a fifth win in a row under Thomas Tuchel by downing Newcastle 2-0 on Monday night.
    A first goal since November for summer signing Timo Werner added to Olivier Giroud’s opener, which was set up by Werner.

    Mateo Kovacic put in another all-action display for ChelseaCredit: EPA

    The Frenchman had only taken to the field a few minutes earlier after an injury to starting striker Tammy Abraham.
    Here, SunSport’s Simon Phillips hands out his ratings for the Chelsea players at Stamford Bridge.
    Kepa Arrizabalaga – 7
    As Chelsea goalkeepers have recently become accustomed to, Kepa really didn’t have a lot to do.
    He was tested a few times as the game went on and made some good saves.

    Cesar Azpilicueta – 7
    An experienced and influential performance from the captain.
    Some important tackles and defending when needed, and always contributing well further up the pitch.
    Antonio Rudiger – 8
    Great energy and great intensity from him, literally racing at one point to get back in and defend on a counter attack.
    Worked very hard for the team and showed a lot of desire to get the three points.

    Chelsea kept their fifth clean sheet in six games under Thomas TuchelCredit: Reuters
    Andreas Christensen – 6
    A few silly mistakes from him in the first-half tarnished his performance a little bit, but he was never under too much pressure and he largely contributed well to the win.
    Callum Hudson-Odoi – 8
    Always threatening the Newcastle backline in attack and he was actually very good defensively for Chelsea tonight, working hard to track back and get a couple of important tackles in.
    Jorginho – 7
    Gave away a couple of silly passes, but he did his job well and did what he needed to do to keep Chelsea moving from deep.
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    Chelsea went fourth with a 2-0 win on MondayCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Mateo Kovacic – 9
    Another class performance from a class player. Kovacic is literally Chelsea’s heartbeat right now, everything goes through him and he is so comfortable receiving the ball anywhere on the pitch and doing something positive with it.
    Marcos Alonso – 6
    Looked a bit lazy with some passes but he worked well to create space for Werner out on the left and was always a threat going forward.
    Timo Werner – 8
    Probably his best game in a Chelsea shirt so far. He was doing it all, sprinting back to help defend, setting up goals, scoring goals, and doing it all despite leaking blood from his mouth after a clash early on.

    Timo Werner finally got back among the goals against NewcastleCredit: AFP or llicensors AFP or Licensors
    Mason Mount – 6
    Hard-working as always and he always drifts over to link up well with Hudson-Odoi.
    Still needs to work on his finishing and could have scored in the first-half.
    Gave the ball away too often in the second-half and wasn’t his best game in a Chelsea shirt.
    Tammy Abraham – 6
    Only lasted 19 minutes before being injured in penalty box challenge.
    Substitutes
    Olivier Giroud (On for Abraham, 20 mins) – 7
    Came on and put Chelsea 1-0 up within minutes and proved his reliability to always come on and make a difference when needed.

    N’Golo Kante (On for Mount, 70 mins) – 6
    Came in and shored things up a bit in midfield for Chelsea.
    Reece James (On for Hudson-Odoi, 78 mins) – N/A
    Follow Simon on Twitter @SPTalksCFC
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    Meet Neil Bath, the man behind Chelsea’s youth academy, who has developed £500 million worth of amazing talent

    IN 2004, after 12 years with the club, Chelsea named Neil Bath as their academy director.
    Little did anyone know at that time, if you fast-forward 17 years, the fruits of his labours would be dominating the football landscape in England and overseas.

    Chelsea’s head of youth development Neil Bath has run the club’s brilliant academy since 2004 moulding £500m worth of talentCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    When the die-hard Blues fan, now 55, was installed in his new position he set about completely restructuring the West Londoner’s youth programme – with a greater emphasis on procuring and developing the best talent in London and the South-East.
    In the last year, the likes of Mason Mount, Tammy Abraham, Reece James, Callum Hudson-Odoi have been testament to his work – heralding a new dawn in the Chelsea first team of talented youngsters.
    While another Bath protege, Andreas Christensen made his 100th appearance in a Chelsea shirt in the FA Cup fifth round tie against Barnsley – the first academy graduate since John Terry to achieve that feat.

    And just as impressive are the ones who the club let go, including Declan Rice, Nathan Ake, Ryan Bertrand, Tariq Lamptey and more.
    German website Transfermarkt, which offers conservative transfer values of players, crunched the numbers.

    However, taking into account Hudson-Odoi was subject to a £70million bid from Bayern Munich in 2020, the transfer fees could be at least double those suggested figures.

    All in all, through the years, SunSport believes Bath has remarkably overseen the development – on and off the pitch – of around £500million worth of football talent.

    ‘AN INSPIRATION’

    In 2020, Bath, now head of youth development, was recipient of the Eamonn Dolan award in recognition of his excellent work in youth development for Chelsea.
    His former students queued up to pay their tributes to the man who moulded them into the players they are today for a clip on Chelsea TV.

    Mason Mount called Neil Bath an inspiration to him who helped him achieve his dream to play for ChelseaCredit: AP:Associated Press

    Tammy Abraham, lifting the FA Youth Cup, revealed his years working with Bath were the “best of his life”Credit: Getty Images – Getty
    Mason Mount was one of the many graduates who shared his gratitude for his former coach. “I have nothing but praise to say about Neil,” he said.
    “He’s an inspiration to us all – all the academy players coming through.
    “I started in the academy when I was six-years-old and he helped me so much.
    “The way the academy is set up, the way we work, when we’re younger it puts us in the right mould to push us and keep getting better and better.
    “The winning mentality that he brings, it shows in every game we try to play and try to win, and it shows in the youth academy with how many trophies we’ve won.”
    While Tammy Abraham revealed his days working with Bath were the “best years of his life”.
    “He’s shown so much belief in the young lads and myself, and that’s what drew me to Chelsea,” he divulged.

    Bath chats with Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho in 2007Credit: AFP – Getty

    Former Chelsea manager Frank Lampard and his assistant Jody Morris show their appreciation for BathCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    ‘What they are doing at the academy is an amazing job, there’s nothing like it.
    “Them years I had in the academy were probably the best years of my life.”
    15 YEARS IN THE MAKING
    From the offset, Bath, who began working for Chelsea in 1992 as a part-time schoolboys’ coach, focused on developing Premier League talent, once a significant investment was made into the academy.
    In the exciting revamp, the club relocated its youth and first-team training facilities from Harlington to Cobham.
    As he put it on Chelsea’s website back in 2019, it was a plan that was 15 years in the making.
    “It’s what we’ve been working towards for 15 years since we restructured the Academy in 2004,” he said.
    “We’ve always been very clear that our job is not really to win youth trophies year after year, but to develop and produce Chelsea and Premier League players.”
    Bath added: “We have to set our ambitions high because we want to be the best football academy in the world and the number one choice for players and parents.”

    Chelsea fan Bath explained his masterplan was 15 years in the makingCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Bath oversees everything at the academy, here standing with Joe Edwards, ex-assistant manager Jody Morris and U23 Manager Andy MyersCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    PROOF IS IN THE WINNING
    Turning rough diamonds into winners is, perhaps, the hardest thing to do in youth football.
    But since 2010, Chelsea have proved their academy to be, if not the best, one of the most successful in world football.
    They’ve won the FA Youth Cup an astonishing seven times during that period, including five in a row from 2014 – equalling the record of the infamous Busby Babes of Manchester United that stood for 50 years.
    Their U18s have been national champions twice and southern champions four times.

    While on the European stage, the kids have won the Uefa Youth League twice.
    But it’s not all about making first class footballers. Developing the boy into a respectful and educated man is also part of the process.
    Bath has spoken in the past how he and his assistant Jim Fraser understand the importance of that.
    “We’re currently the reigning Premier League champions from Under-13 to U16, which is a really positive sign,” he said in 2019, “and we’ve just achieved our best-ever GCSE results.

    Chelsea’s youth teams have tasted incredible success since 2010Credit: Getty Images – Getty

    Mason Mount lifts the FA Youth Cup in 2017 alongside Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi who are now first team starsCredit: Getty Images – Getty

    Ola Aina, Nathaniel Chalobah, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Nathan Ake and Kurt Zouma pose with the Premier League trophy 2017Credit: Getty Images – Getty
    “We need to make sure these boys have all the characteristics and attributes, as footballers and as young men, to follow the likes of Ruben, Mason, Fikayo and Tammy.
    “When first-team coaching staff speak so highly about them as people, how they are humble and respectful, how they work so hard every day and set the standards in training, that’s also incredibly nice to hear and reinforces the culture we have built.”
    THE ONES THAT GOT AWAY
    Of course, not every young player is going to make it – that is the harsh reality of football.
    For every Mount, Loftus-Cheek, Abraham or Christensen there’s a Declan Rice, Eddie Nketiah, Tariq Lamptey and Nathan Ake that had to prove their worth elsewhere, and who would now command huge transfer fees.
    But perhaps the biggest star who slipped through the net was Kylian Mbappe.
    In 2012, the French superstar, then 13, was invited for a trial to Cobham. However, when he was asked to return for another trial, his mum refused point black.
    Daniel Boga, who worked as an international scout at Chelsea until 2014, explained to Goal: “He took a trial and didn’t end up convincing us because he didn’t offer enough defensively.
    “So, they asked his mother if he could come back for a second trial and she said no.”
    Mbappe was playing at a small club in the suburbs of Paris called Bondy at that time, and his mum Fayza believed he was destined for the top.

    Kylian Mbappe was on trial at Chelsea, but didn’t impress Blues coaches

    £70m-rated West Ham star Declan Rice was schooled at Chelsea’s academy before he was released in 2014Credit: Rex Features
    “My son will not go back, either they sign him now or within five years they’ll have to offer 50 million euros to tie him down,” she said as per Boga.
    The reason for Chelsea’s reluctance to sign Mbappe on the spot was that they didn’t see enough quality in him when he wasn’t with the ball.

    “Defensively, he wasn’t quite there,” Boga said.
    “When he received the ball he was incredible, but without the ball he didn’t do much.”
    It goes to show, you have to do more to impress Bath and his team to get your chance to learn at this fame academy.

    Mason Mount opens up over Chelsea sacking Frank Lampard and admits it’s tough More