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Are we entering a new era of super clubs in football?

This season more than ever, there has been a breakaway within the breakaway. Luckily, that was not in the form of the European Super League (for now at least) although the upper echelons of the Premier League are starting to resemble that very notion with an elite cabal of super clubs breaking away.

Indeed, Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool look favourites for the Champions League alongside Bayern Munich and, even within that group, two clubs look set for a stronger future.

Chelsea might be slightly more ahead in this process but both they and City appear to be entering the next phase of being super clubs. Clearly there are issues as to how good that is for football in a wider sense but, more than any of the monied elite, they seem to have safeguarded for the future.

At Stamford Bridge, as Thomas Tuchel’s side put Juventus to the sword last week, a number of Chelsea academy graduates scored. Trevoh Chalobah, Reece James and Callum Hudson-Odoi featured prominently and, where players of such profile might have been sold or loaned in years gone by, are putting in the kind of performances that will surely see them remain first-team fixtures for seasons to come.

Mason Mount, who came on as a substitute, is another alongside Andreas Christensen and Ruben Loftus-Cheek, meaning Chelsea are now enjoying tangible success from their academy. Quite how that will develop over the next few years is seriously exciting and, crucially, much more palatable and sellable than merely spending millions on a raft of new players every summer.

That’s not to say Chelsea don’t do that, of course, but the point is that the need is becoming less and less frequent after investing so heavily in their academy once they came into money.

The same could be said of City, albeit many of their youngsters aren’t quite as developed. Phil Foden is naturally the headline success but even Gary Neville was agog at the kind of talents City have started to debut of late.

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Cole Palmer is getting first-team minutes (no mean feat in a Pep Guardiola team) and James McAtee was so impressive during his fleeting appearance against Everton recently, Neville suggested they resembled ‘David Silva clones’.

This is the next phase for these super clubs. While Liverpool do have promising youngsters and are capable of producing talents such as Trent-Alexander Arnold, the nature of their business model means Jurgen Klopp is largely focusing on the here and now.

The fact he’s capable of keeping up such a relentless level of importance while largely relying on the same players who won the Champions League in 2019 and the Premier League in 2020 is a testament to his coaching, more than anything else. It should be said that the likes of Harvey Elliott and Tyler Morton provide promising glimpses into the future but there just isn’t the conveyor belt of talent prevalent at City and Chelsea.

Manchester United, meanwhile, do have a proud record of developing their own stars and Mason Greenwood is living proof that the tradition is still alive and well but, such is their strange obsession with evoking memories of the Sir Alex Ferguson era, it’s hard to decipher any kind of coherent plan as to what the club plan to do with such talents.

On the continent, Paris Saint-Germain seem to ignore the footballing hotbed of the French capital and, outside of Bayern Munich, the financial disparity between the rich and the poor in other leagues makes it nigh on impossible for clubs to keep developing teams.

Chelsea, City and Liverpool have already pulled away. It’s a hugely entertaining three-horse race. Two of them, however, look set for the next phase.These are examples of how super clubs should be run.

 


 

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