Harry Kane and Dele Ali's emergence at Tottenham Hotspur as a sign of their club's commitment to young players is greatly overstated, according to Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo. Mauricio Pochettino has been widely praised for using English players – many from the club's academy – during the North Londoners' Premier League title challenge, but that praise is not echoed by their rivals from Stamford Bridge.
The Blues have been often criticised for failing to supplement their own squad with players from their successful academy, who have reached the FA Youth Cup final for the fifth year in a row and won the Uefa Youth League on Monday [18 April] against Paris Saint-Germain. Ruben Loftus-Cheek has figured intermittently since the appointment of Guus Hiddink, but he is a rare success story.
Tottenham's success could now see them hold the upper hand over the likes of Chelsea when it comes to luring the best young players from around the capital, particularly should they go on to lift their first league title for 55 years. Emenalo holds a different view however, and says the success of the White Hart Lane side has been overblown – but nevertheless admits he faces a challenge convincing parents the club will provide opportunities.
"I try to tell them the reality with Tottenham is it is just the one key player – Harry Kane," he told The Daily Telegraph. "[Dele] Alli they bought, [Tom] Carroll is a fringe player and [Eric] Dier they bought. So with all the hoopla about Tottenham, it's just the one player, so we try to remind them it's not just a Chelsea problem. We want them to be patient because they [the parents and agents] want it quicker than the boys want it, or the boys are ready to take it."
Antonio Conte will become the latest Chelsea manager to delve into the club's youth ranks when he takes over in the summer, and he is expected to come under pressure to both use the academy and return the club back to the top table in the Premier League and in Europe. Emenalo is confident there is a talent stream at the club and says there is a united effort to promote them into the senior side.
"[Jake] Clarke-Salter and [Fikayo] Tomori are going to be outstanding players," Roman Abramovich's right-hand man at Chelsea added. "They are young and if they decide to get fat there's nothing I can do about that. But if they continue the way that they are, they will make it because they have great talent."
"There is a co-ordinated effort from everybody to want to make this happen. The owner wants it, the first team coach wants it, the academy manager wants it, I want it, the board want it, everybody wants this to happen. We think we have very, very good young players who should be able to come through.
"It's a massive job to try to keep them patient and to keep them going until they get into the first team, but from next season there will be signs because Bertrand Traoré came back from Vitesse Arnhem to be in the first team and Ruben Loftus-Cheek is here and will stay here, so that will give positive signs."