Dario Gradi announced Monday that Crewe Alexandra were taking a Chelsea reserve team goalkeeper on loan over the summer with the view to an extended loan move.
That player turned out to be Welsh Under-21 stopper Rhys Taylor, and as he prepares to join the Railwaymen for pre-season, he kicks off what is sure to be another busy campaign of temporary moves.
Last season saw nineteen different players involved in seventeen loan spells across all four divisions of the England professional league and two overseas leagues, the Dutch and Croatian championships.
It’s part and parcel of a player’s development for the majority of individuals, and whilst some at Chelsea will be taking the next necessary step, others will be trying to make up for lost time and catch up on time lost.
Taylor doesn’t quite fall into that category, with goalkeepers afforded a longer development, but it’s been a while coming.
A loan spell at QPR last December was purely as a backup to Radek Cerny, and was a welcome change of scenery after recovering from a traumatic concussion, but approaching two years since he was called into the senior Welsh squad for a friendly against Georgia, it offers him the opportunity to begin establishiung himself in professional football.
Crewe have no goalkeepers currently registered but aim to complete a permanent deal for Steve Phillips, who spent the majority of last season at Gresty Road on loan.
However, he is currently injured and so Gradi was contacted by Blues reserve team coach Steve Holland, who spent almost two decades working closely with Gradi.
Holland recommended Taylor, and the deal was apparently struck. Rhys stands a decent chance of earning a starting berth in the early weeks of the season, and from there it’s up to him to perform, make the job his to lose, and help Crewe as best he can.
He won’t be the only player heading to pastures temporarily new in the coming months though. Looking through the first team fringe players, and the current reserve squad, and names simply leap off the page.
The futures of Ryan Bertrand, Scott Sinclair, Jack Cork, Michael Mancienne and Franco Di Santo are uncertain and all five could easily be sent away for another season as Chelsea patiently wait for signs of sufficient development for first team involvement.
All would be hoping for Premier League campaigns, with Bertrand the only one yet to experience football at the top level, and in truth they all need to be playing in the top flight, whether at Stamford Bridge or elsewhere.
Below them, long-term injury victims Sam Hutchinson and Michael Woods could benefit greatly from playing regular football for a season, with their developments waylayed at a crucial juncture in their careers. Both are now no longer teenagers and after missing most of last season will be looking to make up for lost time.
Hutchinson would benefit from playing in the upper half of the Championship, with Woods perhaps in the lower half or a promotion-chasing League One side, similar to Jacob Mellis’ spell at Southampton last season.
Mellis himself will be in the discussion to head back out after returning from St Mary’s last season to complete his time spent at Chelsea for registration in UEFA competitions.
Patrick van Aanholt came back for a similar reason and depending on the club’s depth at left-back, he could find himself a different home for the next twelve months, perhaps Nottingham Forest, who were linked in late May.
Dutch compatriot defender Jeffrey Bruma has been linked with a move to FC Twente on loan, but Frank Arnesen denied the possibility, telling Dutch media that both he and van Aanholt would remain at Cobham until January at least, as it fit best in their personal development plans.
Irish media have mentioned Conor Clifford’s name, whilst Adam Phillip is another who would do well from playing often after many an injury kept him out. If the likes of Bridcutt, Ofori-Twumasi, Magnay and Gordon remain at the club on a permanent basis, they are certain to be sent out too.
We’ve named sixteen there, and in truth there could be even more. Croatian stopper Matej Delač arrives in late August upon turning eighteen and has admitted he doesn’t know what his immediate future holds.
He could play reserve team football, he could stay at Chelsea and train, or he could be loaned around, perhaps even back to Inter Zapresic. Right now though, his name, just like everybody else’s, is up for discussion.
Whoever goes out on loan, and wherever it may be, you can be sure to keep track of their progress throughout the season here on TheChels.net, and on Twitter by following @chelseayouth.