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

CHELSEA's academy prospects are currently thriving in the Blues first-team stars.

The likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Reece James have all made great strides from the academy to become Premier League stars.

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Midfielder Billy Gilmour also enjoyed a breakthrough season last campaign before being hampered with a serious injury.

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 is ironically Lampard's top transfer target in January and is valued at a whopping £80million.

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 ahead of next season.

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 last season highlighted his potential.

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

Nathan Ake

The Dutch defender was rewarded with a £40million switch to Man City last summer 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 last season, Nketiah 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 this summer.

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