Five Chelsea academy players who left the Blues before making the grade, including Eddie Nketiah and Declan Rice

SOME Chelsea academy prospects are now thriving first-team stars at the Blues.

The likes of Mason Mount and Reece James have made great strides from the youth team to become Premier League stars.

Midfielder Billy Gilmour also enjoyed a breakthrough season before heading out on loan to Norwich for this campaign.

But it hasn't always been the case at Chelsea.

For years youth prospects were forced to spend time on loan and eventually leave the club permanently in search of first-team football.

SunSport picks out five of the Chelsea academy prospects that got away…

Declan Rice

The West Ham midfielder remains a top transfer target for the Blues.

Now a regular in Gareth Southgate's England squad, it appeared the Blues missed a trick when they released him at the age of 14.

Rice revealed how he 'broke down' following the news but moved to the Hammers where he has cemented his reputation as one of the best defensive midfielders in the country.

A move back to his boyhood club appears almost inevitable either, and could come in the summer – although West Ham are desperate to hang on to him.

Rhian Brewster

The 20-year-old striker joined Chelsea aged seven having turned down the likes of Arsenal.

At the age of 14, he quit to join Liverpool where he felt his development was better suited elsewhere.

He made just three competitive appearances for the Reds but a loan stint at Swansea highlighted his potential.

The forward bagged 10 in 20 for the Swans and earned a £23.5million move to Sheffield United in 2020.

He suffered relegation last term, but he recently got off the mark for the Blades in the Championship.

Nathan Ake

The Dutch defender was rewarded with a £40million switch to Man City last year after spending three impressive years at Bournemouth.

He joined Chelsea's academy in 2011 from Feyenoord and had three loan spells with Reading, Watford and the Cherries.

Ake made seven league appearances for Chelsea before sealing his permanent move to Bournemouth for £20m in 2017.

Eddie Nketiah

Nketiah teamed up with the Chelsea academy as a nine-year-old but was released by the club in 2015.

Arsenal quickly snapped the 21-year-old up and is hugely-regarded at the Gunners.

Following a six-month loan spell at Leeds, Nketiah returned to North London and is now battling for a first-team spot alongside Alexandre Lacazette.

Bertrand Traore

Traore was first linked with a move to Chelsea in 2010 from Auxerre but it was 2013 when he was finally announced.

He was loaned to Vitesse and Ajax before making ten league appearances for Chelsea, scoring twice.

Traore then spent three years with Lyon before earning a £17million switch to Aston Villa tin 2020.

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