Frank Lampard admits Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori would likely to have been sent out on loan by Chelsea had the Blues not been stung by a transfer ban, potentially edging them in the same direction as Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne.
Much has been made of the players that have been allowed to slip the net at Stamford Bridge.
During an era of big-spending, youngsters with bags of potential did not always see senior doors thrown open in west London.
That situation changed in the summer of 2019, with FIFA preventing Chelsea from bolstering their ranks through two transfer windows.
Sanctions were eventually lifted, but by then the Blues had already brought club legend Lampard back to familiar surroundings and shown considerable faith in home-grown talent – such as Mount, Tomori and leading marksman Tammy Abraham.
“Would Mason have gone on loan again this year? Possibly. Probably. Tomori definitely would. It was my decision to keep Tomori because I'd worked with him at Derby and loved his attitude,” Lampard told the Daily Mail of changing the approach at Chelsea.
“I don't have to play Tammy — he has to show me why, of our three strikers, he deserves it.
“The ban forced my hand slightly but I knew the fans wanted to see young players. I knew how much the academy put into these players.
“I'm not even talking about Mohamed Salah or Kevin De Bruyne - you mention them and you get an absolute headline. But there have been other academy players over the last 10 years who might have come through quicker.
“The sweat, the tears, the hours that go into those prospects. Neil Bath and Jim Fraser, who have run the academy for years, put so much into it.
“The day we beat Wolves 5-2, Tomori got the first, Tammy scores three, then Mason scores. You want to ring them up and go, ‘Can we have a few pints tonight, lads?’”
Reece James, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Callum Hudson-Odoi are among the other academy graduates looking to nail down regular roles at Chelsea.
The latter is considered to be a hot prospect, having already earned full England caps, and Lampard is looking for a 19-year-old winger to position himself among the Premier League elite.
He added on Hudson-Odoi: “The one thing these players have over us from our era is that from the age of 10, they've been watching videos of themselves.
“They do studies: what are my weak points, my strong points? We had a whole video about wingers making the box going into Burnley last month. Then when Callum scores that tap-in, it's probably my favourite goal of the season.
“Look at Raheem Sterling, Sadio Mane, Salah and ask why they are racking up numbers. If you want to play as a winger at a top club, you have to get goals.”