April’s Loan Report takes a look at some of the players Chelsea might be looking to move on this summer in an effort to trim some of the excess fat around the first-team squad.
It’s an endeavour that has never quite proved to be as easy as idle speculation on social media would have you believe, and it serves to highlight the work ahead for Marina Granovskaia and her team in the months ahead, at the end of a pandemic-affected season, and in a market still reeling from the financial impact of more than a year without fans in stadiums. FIFA’s proposals for stricter limits on loans for non-homegrown young players have been delayed due to the pandemic, but they will come in eventually, meaning clubs have to position themselves accordingly in the build-up to that happening.
There was a brief window in 2020 where it looked like Ross Barkley had found his feet at Chelsea and was in position to kick on and find the consistency required to take his game to the next level. He was a regular starter in the ‘restart’ period in June and July, including both legs of the Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich, and was generally quite impressive as one of the ‘free 8s’ in Lampard’s 4-3-3.
After a busy summer of transfer activity, though, his playing time looked set to suffer again, so he joined Aston Villa on loan for the 2020-21 campaign, and a familiar story has unfolded in the nine months since then. A very bright start gave way to frustrating inconsistency and a dramatic reduction in playing time, to the point he was missing out on opportunities to Villa’s home-grown young midfielder Jacob Ramsey. With plenty of options in attacking midfield positions at a Chelsea now led by Thomas Tuchel, a return to Stamford Bridge for the 27 year-old seems unlikely.
Still contracted to Chelsea until 2023 from the five and a half year deal he penned in January 2018, his estimated salary of £100,000 p/w and a transfer fee of £15m means he’ll cost the club somewhere in the region of £8m per season for each of the final two years of his contract. If the Blues can find a suitor willing to pay £15-20m for him, they’ll be able to square off the money side of things and perhaps make a little profit on the side, and if they can’t they’ll likely look for another season-long loan deal to cover the £8m due in 2021-22, with the loaning club expected to pay his wages and a small loan fee.
There might not be a player as enigmatic and as eternally frustrating in Chelsea’s recent history as Michy Batshuayi. He’s scored at a rate of around 1 in 3 for the Blues and has enjoyed relatively productive loan spells at both Dortmund and Crystal Palace in seasons past, while netting 22 goals in 33 caps for Belgium. It seems he’ll score goals wherever he goes, but harnessing his finishing prowess and building a strong all-round game to go along with it is something that has eluded almost every manager he’s worked with.
Even Roy Hodgson, who had plenty of reason to welcome his return to Selhurst Park for a second go-around last summer, has apparently given up on the 27 year-old forward; he’s made just seven Premier League starts this season and only three of those have come in 2021, yet he’s still managed to score twice in limited opportunities.
His contract is up in 2022, which poses a problem for Chelsea, who might now be forced into selling while his stock is as low as it has been during his time at the club. In an ideal world they might convince him to extend his deal by a season and then find another productive loan move – maybe back to the Bundesliga, where the style of play is far more likely to see him score freely – and then sell at a higher price next summer. It’s not as unlikely as it sounds for a player who has rarely shown a desire to rock the boat or cause problems for his clubs but, if they can’t come to an agreement, they should hope he shines at the European Championships and then take the best offer they get for him.
And here we are again. Assuming the Community Shield isn’t classed as a competitive fixture, Drinkwater hasn’t played a meaningful match for Chelsea since March 2018. The three years that have since passed have seen Maurizio Sarri, Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel all look elsewhere for midfield options, and loan moves to Burnley, Aston Villa and most recently Kasimpasa in Turkey have failed to yield the sort of success any party involved would have liked to experience.
Like Batshuayi, he has a year left on his deal, and capturing any resale potential or covering his book value (roughly £12m for the 2021-22 season) seems unlikely at this point, so it would be best for all parties if Chelsea were prepared to let him go to a club that wants him with minimal fuss. Sometimes transfers work, sometimes they don’t, and it’s time to move on from this one at last.
Kenedy has been a Chelsea player for almost six years but hasn’t made an appearance in a blue shirt (excluding pre-season) in the last four of them. This year’s loan with Granada, however, has been vastly more successful than previous ventures out at Watford, Newcastle and Getafe and, while he remains much the same player, he has at least carved out a role for himself with a Europa League Quarter Final-level club and positioned himself nicely for his next move.
Exactly when his Chelsea deal ends is curiously uncertain, as at least one extension (likely a club option) has happened without an announcement, but it’s unlikely to matter in this case. It’s clear that he’s comfortable in La Liga and never quite found his feet in England so, if there’s interest and a decent enough offer, it makes sense to part ways.
Just last week, Tuchel was asked about Loftus-Cheek’s future at Chelsea, ahead of a match he was unable to play in due to Premier League rules preventing him from featuring for his loan club (Fulham) against his parent club. The Blues’ manager admitted that Ruben had once evoked comparisons to Michael Ballack when he was at his elegant best, before injury struck in New York at the end of the 2018-19 season, and it’s that tantalising prospect that keeps returning when considering whether or not he has a future at Chelsea.
Fulham’s impending relegation means fan opinion of his contribution at Craven Cottage will be tinged with a little more negativity than usual, particularly so when it’s Chelsea player involved, and it would be fair to say that he hasn’t hit the heights he’s capable of. However, he hasn’t been used in a way that makes the best use of his assets, he’s been working back to form and fitness after a career-threatening injury, and – with due respect – his potential in a better team than Fulham is undeniably greater.
The problem he faces is what’s happened at Chelsea in his absence. Lampard has gone, Tuchel has arrived, and he faces competition from Mason Mount, Kai Havertz, Hakim Ziyech, Timo Werner, Christian Pulisic, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Tino Anjorin in attacking midfield roles. He has to show that he can bring something different to the table that gets him a place in the squad at the expense of someone else; his powerful transitional play with a deftness of touch and the ability to be productive in the final third is arguably unrivalled in the squad, but Chelsea might also look at Anjorin and prefer the younger option at this point in time too.
Now 25 and at the biggest crossroads in his career, he’s the biggest wildcard among this season’s loanees, and the hardest to predict a next step for. He has three years left on a contract signed weeks after suffering that injury, but it might be that he has to look elsewhere for the regular football he needs to get back to his best and to get back into England contention for the 2022 World Cup.
Victor Moses is 30 and hasn’t played for Chelsea since October 2018. There’s no need to really over-analyse this one; he was a fantastic contributor during Antonio Conte’s title-winning season and will eventually leave the club with a well-deserved round of applause and much appreciation, but he played 80% of his league minutes at Chelsea under one manager despite being at the club for eight years and nine different bosses. Spartak Moscow, where he is currently on loan, have an option to buy him this summer but, even if they don’t, expect him to move on.
Tomori is in a considerably different situation to everyone else mentioned in here because he’s younger (23) and, until a year ago, was riding high at Chelsea and looked set for a long-term future at the heart of the defence. We know what’s happened since, and now we wait to see if Milan are in a position to spend €30m to make his loan at the San Siro a permanent deal.
People close to the deal have repeatedly hinted that there is little to no expectation that Milan will be able to do so, no matter how highly Paolo Maldini and company speak of him, but while the option is there, anything is possible. The more intriguing angle is what happens if they indeed decline to spend that money, and he comes back to Chelsea; if Tuchel retains a three-CB system next term then there’s definitely space for Tomori to come back and compete with Kurt Zouma or Antonio Rudiger for minutes on the left of the trio, while he possesses the versatility to challenge for minutes in any of the other positions.
He has a contract until 2024 while Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilicueta have no more than a year left as things stand (Zouma and Ethan Ampadu are contracted until 2023). The future of Chelsea’s defence is quietly perhaps the biggest question mark the club needs to answer in terms of personnel over the next two transfer windows and it would be foolish not to consider Tomori a part of those discussions.
Zappacosta is another displaced Conte signing who didn’t even find a way to feature regularly under Sarri, thanks in part to the fact he’s much better as a wing-back than he is a full-back. That’s largely where he’s played for Genoa this season, doing a job on either flank, and enjoying his football again after spending most of 2020 sidelined with injury or an enforced Covid absence.
Serie A clubs are notoriously stingy when it comes to coughing up for a permanent deal that they could otherwise get on loan, but Chelsea might only be looking for between £5-10m for the final year of his deal on the financial side, and that sort of arrangement shouldn’t be too hard to find.
Started: August 22nd
Finished: May 31st
|Player||Club||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe/Cont||Other||Mins|
|Ethan Ampadu||Sheffield United||24 (2)||0||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||2450||27 (2)||0|
|Tiemoue Bakayoko||Napoli||23 (8)||2||2 (2)||0||0||0||5 (2)||0||1||0||2480||31 (10)||2|
|Lewis Baker||Trabzonspor||29 (5)||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0 (1)||0||2733||30 (6)||2|
|Ross Barkley||Aston Villa||19 (6)||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1613||19 (6)||3|
|Michy Batshuayi||Crystal Palace||7 (11)||2||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||897||9 (11)||2|
|Armando Broja||Vitesse Arnhem||21 (9)||10||3 (1)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||2186||24 (10)||11|
|Charlie Brown||Union SG||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Isaiah Brown||Sheffield Wednesday||4 (15)||0||0 (1)||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||647||5 (16)||0|
|Juan Castillo||AZ Alkmaar||0 (1)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||6||0||457||6 (1)||0|
|Juan Castillo||ADO Den Haag||9 (7)||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||878||10 (7)||0|
|Trevoh Chalobah||Lorient||24 (5)||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2301||25 (5)||2|
|Jake Clarke-Salter||Birmingham City||9 (1)||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||881||10 (1)||0|
|Danny Drinkwater||Kasimpasa||6 (5)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||519||6 (5)||0|
|Conor Gallagher||West Bromwich Albion||28 (2)||2||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||2683||30 (2)||2|
|Marco van Ginkel||PSV||3 (8)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||351||3 (8)||1|
|Marc Guehi||Swansea City||43||0||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3950||45||0|
|Kenedy||Granada||18 (10)||4||3 (1)||2||0||0||11 (1)||2||0||0||2516||34 (12)||8|
|Ruben Loftus-Cheek||Fulham||21 (9)||1||1 (1)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2032||22 (10)||1|
|Ian Maatsen||Charlton Athletic||31 (3)||1||0 (1)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2896||31 (4)||1|
|Luke McCormick||Bristol Rovers||36 (3)||6||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3318||39 (3)||6|
|George McEachran||MVV Maastricht||1 (2)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||100||1 (2)||0|
|Victor Moses||Spartak Moscow||18 (1)||4||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1604||19 (1)||4|
|Danilo Pantic||Cukaricki||17 (10)||1||0 (1)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1588||17 (11)||1|
|Lucas Piazon||Rio Ave||6 (2)||2||0 (1)||0||0||0||3||0||0||0||789||9 (3)||2|
|Baba Rahman||PAOK||11 (2)||1||4||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1383||14 (2)||1|
|Jonathan Russell||Accrington Stanley||12 (13)||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1330||13 (13)||2|
|Malang Sarr||FC Porto||5 (3)||0||4||0||1||1||4 (2)||0||0||0||1401||14 (5)||1|
|Fikayo Tomori||Milan||16 (1)||1||0 (1)||0||0||0||4||0||0||0||1896||20 (2)||1|
|Iké Ugbo||Cercle Brugge||32||16||0 (2)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||2753||32 (2)||17|
|Tariq Uwakwe||Accrington Stanley||12 (3)||1||0 (1)||0||0||0||0||0||4 (1)||3||1206||16 (5)||4|
|Davide Zappacosta||Genoa||23 (2)||4||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2048||23 (2)||4|
|Player||Club||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other||Mins|
|Apps||Cln Sht||Apps||Cln Sht||Apps||Cln Sht||Apps||Cln Sht||Apps||Cln Sht||Apps||Cln Sht|
|Nathan Baxter||Accrington Stanley||16||6||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||1||1657||19||7|
|Jamal Blackman||Rotherham United||25 (1)||5||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||2543||30 (1)||5|
|Teddy Sharman-Lowe||Burton Albion||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||2||0||270||3||0|