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Blues poised to concede defeat in the race for top PL academy leader

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uthampton set to beat Chelsea for Manchester City academy leader Joe Shields.

Southampton set to beat Chelsea for Manchester City academy honcho Joe Shields 

Away from the drama surrounding the transfer window and player targets, Chelsea are set to lose out on Manchester City’s highly-revered Head of Recruitment and Talent Management Joe Shields who is understood to be joining Southampton. 

Journalist Fabrizio Romano mentioned Chelsea’s interest in Shields, and The Telegraph confirmed that the Saints are approaching him for the Head of Senior Recruitment role at St Mary’s.

The 35-year-old has been a key contributor to turning Man City’s academy into one of England’s finest. In his City tenure thus far, he has recruited the likes of Michael Olise, Liam Delap and Jadon Sancho. 

Southampton set to beat Chelsea for Manchester City academy honcho Joe Shields.
Joe Shields poses for a picture with former Arsenal striker Nwankwo Kanu. (Photo via Twitter)

Shields has built a reputation for having a strong eye for identifying young talent, who go on to make it into the first team and on the circumstance that they are sold, they usually generate a decent transfer fee. 

He is Southampton’s first approach for a major recruitment figure since the club was taken over by Serbian businessman Dragan Šolak’s Sport Republic group. 

Chelsea’s interest in Shields is unsurprising, given the few yet costly high-profile recruitment blunders that the Blues have made over the years. 

How did the Saints beat Chelsea?

The details of Shield’s appointment are unknown yet but more clarity is expected in the coming days. For now, one can only speculate based on his job title. Southampton have offered him total leadership over recruitment while the Blues may have been reluctant to do so given the structure they already have in place. 

Shields has been very valuable to City, helping them run one of the best academies in England. Chelsea on the other hand can make a case for running the best academy in England, and one of the best in Europe. 

uthampton set to beat Chelsea for Manchester City academy leader Joe Shields.
The Chelsea academy has built itself a steady reputation. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

The names that the Chelsea academy have produced and nurtured – Reece James, Tariq Lamptey, Marc Guehi, Fikayo Tomori, Mason Mount, Conor Gallagher, Tammy Abraham, Tino Livramento, Armando Broja, and so many others, far supersede City’s academy success. 

According to the CIES Football Observatory, the Chelsea academy since 2015 has generated £210 million in transfer fees, which is far more than any other Premier League side. Manchester City in comparison have made £145 million

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Despite Shield’s influence at City, Chelsea seems to clearly know what they are doing. Yes, a mind like his is always an asset to avoid an unmitigated disaster like signing Romelu Lukaku for a club-record fee of £97.5 million. However, the Chelsea academy continues to flourish and the Blues can hopefully continue to count on Cobham for the foreseeable future. 

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