The final Loan Report of the season contains joy and despair in equal measure, with big matches at home and across Europe closing out the campaign for the remaining Chelsea players out on loan. We start at Wembley.
It’s been a season for the ages for Huddersfield Town, who defied pre-season expectations of a mid-table finish at best to fight for promotion from the outset. After making their way past Sheffield Wednesday in the Playoff Semi Finals, they took on Reading at Wembley on Monday afternoon for the right to play Premier League football in 2017-18.
Izzy Brown started whilst the Terriers were also pleased to be able to welcome Kasey Palmer back into the fold for the first time since February 5th. Manager David Wagner had previously ruled him out for the season with a long-term hamstring problem but, with the playoffs extending their fixture list into late May, it allowed for the 20 year-old playmaker to take a deserved place in the squad for the biggest match in their recent history.
A tense and nervous contest started well for Huddersfield but Brown spurned the chance of the match early on, turning wide of an open goal from close range, an embarrassing miss. It didn’t overshadow his performance though, as he turned in a professional and hard-working display essentially as a central midfielder, showcasing his ability to compete physically and join the play up from one phase to the next.
If Hudds don't win Izzy Brown will be seeing this in his nightmares. pic.twitter.com/8N9qMDB4pw
— James Whaling (@jjwhaling) May 29, 2017
He eventually made way in the first half of extra time, allowing Palmer to eventually complete his comeback, having been readied to come on earlier only for an injury to captain Tommy Smith to scupper those plans. He looked a little rusty but settled into the game, setting up a great late chance for Nakhi Wells that the Bermudan couldn’t take.
Penalties were required to separate the sides; Man of the Match Michael Hefele missing early for Town, but Liam Moore’s miss earned him a reprieve and, when Danny Ward saved from Jordan Obita, Christopher Schindler had the chance to send Huddersfield to the promised land. He duly obliged, and scenes of unbridled celebration followed.
Under Premier League rules, only one of Brown and Palmer would be allowed to return to the John Smith’s Stadium next season, but there will be interest in both from across the top flight. For now, the plaudits and congratulations go to them and their club for a job exceptionally well done.
ON OUR WAY TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE!!!!
— Isaiah Brown (@izzyjaybrown) May 29, 2017
Where there’s joy, there’s also disappointment, and that was the case for Bertrand Traore and Ajax as they were beaten by Manchester United in the Europa League Final on Wednesday night. The Dutch side were never really in the match despite having more of the ball, finding their routes to goal readily closed off by a robust and much stronger Man Utd team that scored a goal in each half to seal the deal.
Traore was lively in possession and had a number of half-chances not quite pay off, and will now turn his attention to a likely permanent departure. Links with Lyon are picking up, but he’ll have his choice of some of Europe’s finest clubs over the coming weeks and months.
The other big match of the week on the loan front came in Berlin, where the German Cup Final pitted Michael Hector’s Eintracht Frankfurt against Borussia Dortmund. Continuing in his role as the right-sided centre-back in a back three, the Jamaican was as solid as usual, but couldn’t quite end up on the winning side as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s second-half penalty took the trophy to Dortmund instead.
Mario Pašalić was an unused substitute as Milan finished their season with a 2-1 defeat at Cagliari. An interesting summer awaits the Croatian, who has courted interest not just from the Rossoneri, but a number of other Serie A clubs.
Cristian Cuevas was an unused sub as Sint-Truiden were roundly beaten by Genk to end their Europa League qualification aspirations.
Kenneth Omeruo missed Alanyaspor’s home game against Galatasaray, and will hope to be back for their final game of the season next weekend at home to Gaziantepspor.
Miro Muheim still hasn’t made his first-team bow at FC Zurich and now only has next Saturday’s fixture at home to Wohlen to break his duck before returning to Chelsea.
Wallace didn’t play for Gremio.
Joao Rodriguez didn’t play for Cortuluá.