It’s been a much quieter week than usual on the loan front, with many of Chelsea’s youngsters at other clubs sitting on the sidelines for their most recent matches.
Of course, there’s a handful who are near ever-present, and chief amongst them is Thibaut Courtois, a name who has led us off on many a report this season. This week he started perhaps the most important match of his fledgling career to date as Atlético Madrid hosted Valencia in a Europa League Semi Final.
Atlético won the match 4-2, a result which leaves Valencia with a little hope ahead of the return leg at the Mestalla. They scored twice from set-pieces, with Courtois slipping on the turf for Ricardo Costa’s injury time header.
It was an unfortunate mishap, and one which Courtois has rather harshly blamed himself for, but it’s something of an indication of the exceptionally high standards he holds himself to. He otherwise had very little to do throughout the match, handling his duties immaculately.
A tough assignment followed on Sunday night against an in-form Espanyol team but another win followed with a brace from Arda Turan securing a 3-1 victory. Once again, it was a quiet outing for Courtois, who was beaten by the visitors’ only shot on target.
Another who has been enjoying a very fine run of late is Kevin De Bruyne. Courtois’ compatriot has been central to Genk’s excellent start to the top Belgian playoffs and they picked up another win on Sunday, coming back from 2-0 down to beat Standard Liege 3-2.
De Bruyne was less influential than in recent weeks, but that can largely be attributed to the fact Standard chose to man-mark him with Yoni Buyens, who did a sterling job.
In Germany, Jeffrey Bruma’s involvement in Hamburg’s weekend fixture at Nurnburg after picking up an injury in a midweek training session so high in intensity that manager Thorsten Fink had to abandon it for the safety of his players.
However, the Dutchman was able to take his place in the starting line-up – at right-back once again – and put in another solid shift as HSV won another point which edges them closer to safety with just two games to play.
In the Netherlands, Kenneth Omeruo was absent from ADO Den Haag action with a knee injury, meaning Tomas Kalas was the only Eredivisie loanee to play this week. He faced Heerenveen, who featured the division’s leading scorer Bas Dost, but the giant forward was held off the scoresheet as Vitesse earned themselves a solid point.
Vitesse technical director Ted van Leeuwen told Dutch media earlier this week that the club had struck a deal to keep Kalas at the Gelredome again next season, but nothing has been confirmed on that front just yet.
Patrick van Aaanholt was on the bench after a week away from the matchday squad but didn’t feature. He did line up alongside Ulises Dávila earlier on Monday night as Jong Vitesse lost a seven-goal thriller to Jong PSV.
Dávila was substituted after just half an hour as furious manager Gerry Hamstra looked to make changes after an appalling first half in which his side conceded four goals.
After a recent spell of indifferent form, Gael Kakuta found himself on the Dijon bench for the visit of Lille on Saturday, and although he saw half an hour of action in the second half, it was in desperation as Patrice Carteron’s side were 2-0 down and a man short after Abdoulaye Meite’s dismissal.
Kakuta told the French media earlier in the week that it is very much his intention to return to Chelsea in the summer and seek a place in the first team squad. You can read that interview here.
Completing our tour of mainland Europe, Matej Delac continues to serve as backup goalkeeper for Ceske Budejovice.
Back in the British Isles, Kilmarnock and Ben Gordon returned to action after a weekend off and secured an impressive 1-0 win away to Hibernian. It’s a certain fact that the best moments of Gordon’s career to date have come to Rugby Park and an interesting summer lies ahead for the young left-back.
Over the border, and Josh McEachran resumed his role as an unused Swansea City substitute, watching on as his teammates drew 1-1 away to Bolton. Playing time has been scarce for him, but both player and manager Brendan Rodgers have cited positives of the experience off the pitch. Undoubtedly though, all parties would have preferred to see the playmaker on the pitch a lot more.
Sam Walker and Yeovil are officially safe from relegation after a 2-2 draw at Leyton Orient on Saturday, with the big stopper performing as he has generally done since moving to Huish Park. He was beaten by a close range header and a mis-hit cross from the left which deflected and looped over his head into the top corner.
Rhys Taylor, however sat on the bench for Rotherham for the first time as new manager Steve Evans decided that he wanted to take a look at veteran goalkeeper Andy Warrington before the end of the season. With Warrington out of contract and Taylor’s loan spell ending, it made sense for the new man to take a look at all of his options whilst he can.
Finally, second year scholar Reece Loudon continues to impress at Potters Bar Town, scoring a deflected free kick in a midweek cup tie against Cuffley as his team won 5-2.