Levi Colwill can break the trend of failed Chelsea academy defenders

Levi Colwill #37 of Chelsea runs the field during the first half of the pre season friendly match against the Brighton & Hove Albion

Levi Colwill has featured several times during Chelsea’s pre-season – Getty Images/Darren Walsh

Levi Colwill has said that Mauricio Pochettino gave him the “reassurance” that he needed in order to commit his future to Chelsea, after signing a new six-year contract at Stamford Bridge.

Colwill’s future has been a source of constant discussion this summer as a result of Brighton’s interest in signing him on a permanent basis, following his success on loan on the south coast last season.

Brighton were hoping that Chelsea would be willing to include Colwill in a deal for midfielder Moises Caicedo, but those hopes have now been dashed by the centre-back’s commitment to a new contract.

Colwill has featured throughout pre-season under Pochettino and is widely regarded as one of the most promising young defenders in the English game. Pochettino said last month that the 20-year-old has the potential to be “one of the greatest centre-backs in England”.

Colwill’s new contract runs until the summer of 2029, with the option of a further year. He first joined the club at under-nine level and has since progressed through the academy.

“It’s always been an easy decision,’ said Colwill. “As I’ve grown up, all I’ve known is Chelsea. I’ve spoken with the manager and he’s given me reassurance, that trust I needed. He’s spoken with me not just as a player but a person. It’s made a big difference.”

Telegraph Sport analysis

Telegraph Sport analysis

It is a measure of Colwill’s quality that Brighton, who are regarded as masters of recruitment, were so keen to sign him on a permanent basis. It is clear that Colwill is a rare talent and Chelsea have been insistent throughout the summer that he simply was not for sale – even though it would have helped them to sign Moises Caicedo, their top target.

The length of the contract is also a reflection of Pochettino’s view of Colwill. The new Chelsea head coach has been working with his young centre-back for just a few weeks and, within a couple of days, he was making it clear that Colwill was not going anywhere. “He is going to continue with us,” Pochettino said at the start of the club’s tour of the United States.

Levi Colwill, left, and Emile Smith Rowe of England after the UEFA Under-21 EURO 2023 Final match between England and Spain at the Batumi Arena on July 8, 2023 in Batumi, Georgia

Colwill was part of the England team that won the Under-21 Euros – Getty Images/Sam Barnes

The challenge now is for Colwill, who is especially valuable in the modern game because he is left-footed, to succeed where previous defensive graduates of the club’s academy have fallen short. The likes of Marc Guehi, Fikayo Tomori and Trevoh Chalobah have all made the step from the academy to the first-team in recent seasons, but none have been able to establish themselves as undisputed starters at Stamford Bridge. Guehi and Tomori have instead moved elsewhere, and Chalobah could follow them by leaving this summer.

Can Colwill be different? Only time will tell, but the early signs are encouraging. In Pochettino, he has a coach with a long history of getting the best out of talented youngsters. Colwill is also breaking into the team at a time when a new generation is being empowered at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea will hope that he can thrive alongside players of a similar age, and that they can all grow as one. If all goes to plan, Colwill could yet become the leader of this new era at the club.

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