The British are leaving, the British are leaving, the British are leaving! While those may not have exactly been the shouts of Paul Revere way back in 1775, they are the cries of Chelsea fans in 2021. The club known for producing some of the world’s best young players—including Mason Mount and Reece James—is in panic mode as a large group of English academy prospects is now packing up its things and heading for greener pastures.
Fikayo Tomori (AC Milan), Marc Guehi (Crystal Palace), Valentino Livramento (Brighton), Ike Ugbo (Genk), Myles Peart-Harris (Brentford) and Dynel Simeu (Southampton) have all either left or are likely going to leave the club in the coming days. The Blues are considering selling Tammy Abraham this summer, as well. Chelsea’s mass academy exodus is set to see another player depart the club soon as a midfielder makes his way up to Yorkshire.
Leeds United has agreed to sign Chelsea academy midfielder Lewis Bate.
Lewis Bate had his medical earlier this week at Leeds United ahead of a transfer to the Blues’ historic rivals. Bate was one of Chelsea’s most highly-rated academy prospects. He made his debut in the first team squad under Frank Lampard against Sheffield United and Bayern Munich when he was named to the bench on both occasions. The 18-year-old departs Stamford Bridge in search of regular minutes at the senior level.
Bate obviously felt as if he would not get a fair chance at Chelsea given its current midfield depth. The Blues currently have Ballon d’Or hopefuls N’Golo Kante and Jorginho, as well as four-time Champions League winner Mateo Kovacic, in the middle of the park. Mason Mount is capable of dropping deep into the pivot when necessary, but the club is also searching for a new midfielder in the market. Meanwhile, Billy Gilmour recently departed to Norwich City on loan.
Bate joined a few of the aforementioned youngsters (Livramento and Peart-Harris) as academy stars to reject new contract proposals from Chelsea. All three had/have contracts expiring in the near future, so extensions would have been crucial to their potential future loans. The club obviously got the message, demoting Bate to the U16 side for training as it sorted out his £1.5 million move to Leeds. The Blues managed to negotiate add-ons for Bate’s transfer, as well as a sell on clause. There is no buy back clause in the contract.
While there have been questionable moves for a handful of academy graduates in recent years, this move makes perfect sense for the midfielder. Bate learned from the mistake made by Dominic Solanke a few seasons ago as he rejected Liverpool‘s approach in search of game time. Leeds manager Marcelo Bielsa has built a reputation for his successful integration of youth into his first team. The Argentine is regarded as one of the most tactically adept managers in the English game, which bodes especially well for Bate given his astute style of play.
Bate will be joined by former Chelsea striker Patrick Bamford in the Leeds side. It’ll be hard work for Bate to dethrone any of the Whites’ current midfielders. However, Stuart Dallas is now 30, so the opportunity for the youngster to earn minutes throughout the campaign is there. Nevertheless, Leeds’ tireless pursuit of Bate shows Bielsa has a plan for him going forward.
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