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Under-25 in 2025: How Chelsea could line-up following series of youthful signings



IMAGO / News Images / AFLOSPORT / Crystal Pix

After winning the Champions League two years ago, it’s difficult to believe that Chelsea are currently in a state of rebuilding.

Although many won’t need or want a reminder, the 2022/23 season was the club’s worst in decades with the Blues running through a staggering four managers – two permanent, two interim, for the first in their 118-year history.

However, what cannot be ignored is the hefty investment that has been pumped into a long list of young talent. Over the past 12-months, Chelsea have added to their talented Cobham roster by recruiting a range of the world’s very best young talent. In fact, in two years’ time, the Blues are already in a position to field a starting eleven of players aged 25 and under.

Absolute Chelsea takes a look at what a Chelsea XI could look like with players under the age of 25.

GK – Gabriel Slonina (21).

On August 2nd 2022, Chelsea signed Gabriel Slonina from Chicago Fire for a fee that could rise as high as £12 million. The goalkeeper saw out the 2022 Major League Soccer (MLS) season before arriving in London towards the end of last year. It is widely reported that Blues legend Petr Cech pushed for the move after seeing the American impress during his early career.

At the age of just 14, Slonina became the second youngest signing in MLS history before making his professional debut 81 days after his 17th birthday.

The Illinois-born goalkeeper, who is currently just 19-years-old, became the youngest-ever goalkeeper to start for the United States’ senior team after making his debut against Serbia back in January. ‘Gaga’ made six saves on the night and impressed despite the 2-1 defeat in Toronto.  In the 2022/23 season, Slonina played a combined 13 games in the U23 Premier League and U20 FIFA World Cup, keeping seven clean sheets in the process. 

He is contracted at the club until June 30th 2028.

RB – Malo Gusto (22)

Although he’s yet to arrive at Cobham, Chelsea confirmed the signing of talented full-back Malo Gusto at the end of the 2023 January transfer window. The Frenchman returned to Lyon to see out the Ligue 1 season, but his time was heavily impacted by a hamstring injury.

Gusto finished the campaign having started 19 league games whilst picking up an assist in the process. The season before, he accumulated five goal contributions in 38 club appearances with seven being played in the Europa League.

The 20-year-old is expected to arrive at Stamford Bridge this summer to complete his move, which is said to be around the £30 million mark.

CB – Wesley Fofana (24)

One of the biggest names in this starting eleven is Wesley Fofana, who has impressed since his Premier League arrival in 2020 and attracted interest from top clubs across the globe.

After excelling at Leicester in his debut season, the defender was limited to just 12 total appearances in the 2021/22 season due to injury. This didn’t water down interest from Chelsea however, who captured the Frenchman’s signature at the end of the 2022 summer transfer window. The fee could rise to £75 million with bonuses, making Fofana the third-most expensive defender in football history. 

His first season in SW6 was limited due to a knee injury. However, there was plenty to indicate that the centre-back could be a staple in the Blues future backline – especially with Thiago Silva now approaching 39.

Fofana, a life-long Chelsea fan, is contracted at the club the summer of 2029.

CB – Levi Colwill (22)*

A potential partner for Fofana could be Levi Colwill, a south coast born defender who has been on Chelsea’s books since the age of eight.

It should be noted, however, that Colwill’s contract is currently set to expire in June 2025. Putting him in this starting eleven is based on the assumption that Chelsea will renew his contract, which is expected given the club’s long-term plan for the centre-back.

The 20-year-old has had loan spells at Huddersfield Town and Brighton & Hove Albion, impressing in both campaigns for the respective clubs. Colwill has also represented England at various age groups, most notably captaining the under-19s on his debut.

The Cobham product is a left-sided centre-back who has previously worn the number 26 in his early career. Although it’s too early to draw similarities, Colwill is certainly a prospect that could sparkle in Chelsea’s 2025 team and beyond.

LB – Lewis Hall (20)*

Similar to his Cobham teammate, Lewis Hall’s Chelsea contract is also set to expire before the beginning of August 2025. However, like Colwill, Hall has caught the eye of many in recent months and would be expected to extend his stay at Stamford Bridge.

Although Hall could play at left-back in this team, it should be highlighted that the current England under-19 international is naturally a midfielder. Hall joined the Blues in 2012 and has quickly climbed through the ranks before his first-team debut in January 2022.

Hall made eight Premier League starts for Chelsea last season, enjoying a consistent run towards the end of the season under interim boss Frank Lampard. In August 2025 the Cobham graduate will be just 20-years-old, which is frightening given his current level of talent.

The Berkshire-born Blue is versatile and packed with skill, making him a welcomed addition to the starting eleven should his contract be renewed.

CM – Enzo Fernández (24)

At the end of the 2023 January transfer window, Behdad Eghbali and Chelsea beat the clock to capture the signature of Enzo Fernández. The Blues signed the Argentine for a fee in the region of £106 million, which currently stands as the British-record transfer fee.

During his first few months at Stamford Bridge, Fernández has started every game possible and shown his quality despite the team’s struggles. The 22-year-old was awarded as the Young Player of the Tournament at the 2022 World Cup, which was instrumental in Chelsea’s reasons for signing one of the world’s most valuable young players.

Enzo is at the heart of the current Blue’s team in 2023 and is expected to be for the foreseeable future. The midfielder is contracted at the club until June 2031.

CM – Andrey Santos (21)

Another January signing was fellow South American Andrey Santos, who signed a contract with Chelsea until June 2030 in a deal worth close to £18 million. 

The Brazilian was loaned back to Vasco da Gama after his work permit was denied but is expected to be part of the long-term rebuild at Stamford Bridge. Santos, now aged 19, has already earned a start for the senior Brazil team and captained the under-20’s in their unbeaten South American Championship run.

The Rio-born midfielder initially started off as a defender but moved forward during his time at Vasco da Gama’s youth academy. At such a young age, Santos has already put his name on Chelsea fan’s radar and could be one to break into the first team under Mauricio Pochettino.

CM – Kendry Páez (18)

Although it’s highly unlikely he’ll start for the Blues in 2025, Kendry Paez’ move to Chelsea has recently been announced – with the 16-year-old set to move to London in 2025 following his 18th birthday.

The 2007 born midfielder was named as the most outstanding player at the 2022 Next Generation Trophy in Salzburg. He has been labelled as one of the world’s most exciting prospects, with Manchester United bidding for the Ecuadorian last December.

His move to Stamford Bridge will cost less than the reported £17.5 million, his current club Independiente del Valle have confirmed, which is a staggering fee for a player that has just turned 16. This however could prove to be a worthwhile investment should the player live up to his hype.

Like Santos, Páez will join the Blues with international pedigree having become the youngest debutant and goalscorer in Serie A (Ecuadorian top division). On June 5th, it was announced that he was selected for the Ecuadorian senior squad.

RW – Noni Madueke (23)

The signing of Noni Madueke was announced on January 20th 2023, with the winger penning a seven-and-a-half-year contract to the Blues.

The 21-year-old, who was formerly in the academies of Crystal Palace and Tottenham, moved to Eindhoven in 2018 and quickly progressed through the ranks in the Netherlands. The England under-21 international has made good first impressions in his first few months at Stamford Bridge, scoring against Arsenal in one his seven Premier League starts.

The future looks bright for Madueke, who could be a regular in the Chelsea line-up well before the 2025/26 season even commences.

ST – Armando Broja (23)

Another player previously on Spurs’ books was Armando Broja, who is contracted at Chelsea until 2028.

The Slough-born striker grew as a player in his previous loans at Vitesse and Southampton, where he picked up 20 goals in 72 appearances. The Albanian international has also appeared 17 times for his nation, notching four goals in the process. Broja looked set for regular first team minutes in the 2022/23 season but saw extended time on the sidelines following a cruciate ligament rupture.

The striker will return next season and hope to become the next Cobham prospect to break through in SW6.

LW – Mykhailo Mudryk (24).

Last but not least, Mykhailo Mudryk could be the man to complete Chelsea’s under-25 starting eleven in 2025 by providing company to Broja and Madueke in attack.

The Ukrainian joined the Blues in January for a fee that could rise up to £88 million if potential add-ons are fully met. The 22-year-old managed just two goal contributions in his 15 Premier League appearances thus far, but showed flashes of magic that could act as a sign of things to come in the future.

Factoring in his statistics from Shakhtar Donetsk, Mudryk closed the 2022/23 season averaging a goal contribution every 109 minutes. The signs are certainly there and the Ukrainian could excel once adapting to life in the English capital.

The winger is contracted to Chelsea until June 2031.

Honourable Mentions

Bashir Humphries (22), Benoît Badiashile (24), Ethan Ampadu (24)*, Ian Maatsen (23)*, Carney Chukwuemeka (21), Cesare Casadei (22), Harvey Vale (21)*, Omari Hutchinson (21)*, Callum Hudson-Odoi(24)*David Datro Fofana (23).

*= Subject to Contract.