Nowadays, it’s hard to keep track of every Chelsea youth academy starlet who comes rolling off the talent conveyer belt and pops up in the Blues’ first-team squad.
The west London club pumped millions of pounds into their academy at the start of the century, and they have slowly begun reaping the rewards over the past few years.
The likes of Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Tammy Abraham, Reece James, Fikayo Tomori and, most recently, Billy Gilmour have all made that transition from boy to man in the blue jersey, and it appears there is another wonderkid waiting behind the curtain to burst onto the stage.
His name is Charlie Webster. The 17-year-old, born in 2004, is making waves in the youth academy leagues, and he’s being tipped as one to keep an eye on in the near future. Given Chelsea’s new-found tendency to offer youth a chance, we might be seeing him sooner rather than later.
But who is Webster, and what is there to know about the Blues’ latest wonderkid?
It’s extremely likely you’ve never heard of Webster before, and that’s completely understandable. All you need to know is that the teenager is one of the most exciting central midfielders coming through at youth level.
He is a driving force in the heart of the midfield, who likes to bomb forward and burst into the box to get onto the end of crosses, or to be in the right place at the right time to stroke the ball home.
He also takes set pieces, including free. kicks and penalties, and in general, he possesses the graceful glide which separates excellent players from the good ones.
Remind you of anyone, Blues? Frank Lampard may have left the building, but maybe he’s still here in reincarnated form…
So, online comparisons with Jadon Sancho are a touch exaggerated, given Webster plays predominantly in the centre of the pitch, while the Borussia Dortmund star is famously a nippy and skilful winger. They do share one trait however: The German giants are very fond of them both.
Dortmund won the race to land Sancho back in 2017, and he has repaid them handsomely for the £8m they handed over to Manchester City. And Der BVB know a wunderkind when they smell one – which is why they’ve been hot on Webster’s tracks for over a year now.
They were linked with a potential move for the teenager back in May 2020, but those hopes have been dealt a significant blow…
Webster absolutely loves Chelsea, and his ambitions are very much to prove himself at senior level in west London and become a regular at Stamford Bridge.
He demonstrated this desire by putting pen to paper on his first professional contract with Chelsea in January 2021, ending Dortmund’s hopes of pinching him – for the time being.
When questioned over his hopes and dreams after victory in the Kevin De Bruyne Cup, (more on that later) Webster declared, “I want to play for this club, this brilliant club. We [the winning squad] all enjoy it and love it.”
Music to Chelsea supporters’ ears, that’s for sure. With Gilmour and Webster at the heart of their team, the future of their midfield is in extremely capable and exciting hands.
As hinted at previously, there is this thing called the Kevin De Bruyne Cup, which is a tournament designed for the best Under-15 teams around Europe.
The Blues were crowned champions of the fourth edition of the competition, beating Racing Genk 1-0 in the final, handing Webster a significant piece of silverware. That wasn’t the only prize he received off the back of the KDB Cup, though.
Webster was also named as the Player of the Tournament, earning a golden ball and a signed De Bruyne shirt. The Belgian midfielder was present during the tournament, and would have been impressed by what he saw from the graceful teenager.
And all of this leads to one place: Lifting the World Cup with England’s senior side. Many starlets have been tipped to become the next big thing and have then failed to even make it onto a Premier League pitch, let alone earn the honour of representing their country.
But all the signs suggest that Webster is on his way to becoming a star of the national team, as he makes his way through the Three Lions’ ranks. He captained England Under-16s and scored his first goal against the Republic of Ireland in 2019, and has since broken into the Under-17 side.
As a player who is able to lead by example, wear the captain’s armband with pride and make every step up with unerring ease, Webster looks destined for greatness. Let’s hope we see him fulfil that potential in the coming years.