This week’s Loan Report features a clutch of players who were involved for the first time with their new clubs this weekend, headlined by Dijon’s Gael Kakuta.
The French Under-21 international swapped the Reebok Stadium in Bolton for Stade Gaston Gérard and wasted little time in making an impression for his new club, grabbing a debut goal en route to beating Istres 2-1 in the French Cup.
Kakuta grabbed a first-half goal to help his new team back into the tie, which they eventually won and secured a Quarter Final clash with PSG. His strike was a sublime free kick which dipped and bent over the wall, leaving the goalkeeper with no chance.
It stands him in good stead for his Ligue Une debut next weekend, away to Lyon.
Kakuta is one of six Chelsea players who have found new homes in the month of January, and one of two to don new colours this weekend. The other was Sam Walker, who started his first game in goal for Yeovil Town in League One on Saturday afternoon.
Walker joined the Glovers in midweek and joined up with new manager Gary Johnson, who signed the giant custodian back in August when he was at Northampton Town. Johnson signalled his confidence in his new man by terminating the temporary contract of Watford ‘keeper Rene Gilmartin, making Walker the undisputed number one.
Unfortunately, it was a losing start in the West Country, as the trip to Bury resulted in a 3-2 defeat, but the initial reaction to Sam’s performance was a strong one:
Overall thought he did ok. He could not do anything about the 3 goals. What he did do he did well. Made a couple of really good one on one saves when the score was 3-1, which kept us in the game. I trust GJ’s judgement with this signing as he has worked with him before and so knows what he is about. My biggest concern was the way we defended. Bury did not have to work hard for the 3 goals as they were gifted to them by poor and inept defending with most of their attacks in the first half coming down our left side.
(courtesy The Green Room forums)
Whilst Walker and Kakuta featured from the start, Patrick van Aanholt and Josh McEachran were less fortunate, both starting their weekend matches on the bench.
McEachran received roughly half an hour for Swansea in a losing cause away to Sunderland, and played in his usual confident style, using the ball well and earning the trust of his teammates quickly and often.
Van Aanholt was unused in defeat however, as Vitesse went down to a surprising 0-1 home defeat against NEC Nijmegen. Czech teenager Tomas Kalas did play the full match, however, and is arguably the most important part of their back line with the more experienced Guram Kashia now sidelined through injury.
Ulises Dávila was not involved and is likely to spend the majority of the rest of this season with the club’s reserve team, Jong Vitesse.
Elsewhere in the Netherlands, meanwhile, Nigerian defender Kenneth Omeruo has not quite yet completed his move to ADO Den Haag, but spent the latter part of the week securing documentation towards a Dutch work permit, which will enable him to join up with his new team shortly.
Moving from Holland to Germany but sticking with the Dutch, it was a weekend to forget for Jeffrey Bruma and Hamburg as they suffered an ignominious 5-1 loss at home at the hands of Dortmund on their first match back from the Bundesliga’s winter break.
Nobody in HSV white covered themselves in glory as their more talented foes ran riot. Bruma picked up an early booking and struggled with the rest of his team from start to finish. However, he has been in decent form more often than not and will look to re-find that level as soon as possible.
A side note from the match which may interest some Chelsea fans is that former reserve team winger Jacopo Sala made his senior debut as a second half substitute. Sala joined HSV in the summer but has missed the entire season to date with a muscle injury.
In Scotland, Ben Gordon’s Kilmarnock went down 3-0 at home to Dunfermline and didn’t play well as a team nor as individuals, but even in his two appearances so far in his second spell at Rugby Park the left-back has shown the confidence to make an impact at both ends of the pitch, something he didn’t always do in spells at Tranmere, Scunthorpe and Peterborough (where playing time was harder to come by).
To finish with this week, we’ll drop in on three other goalkeepers the Blues have away on loan. Rhys Taylor and Rotherham lost 1-0 at home to Port Vale courtesy of a second half penalty, and whilst the Welshman went the right way from the spot kick he was unable to add to his impressive record of saving penalties.
Diego Simeone’s buoyant Atlético Madrid has suited Belgian teenager Thibaut Courtois, who recorded a second consecutive clean sheet after a shutout at home to Villarreal last weekend. Atlético have been in fine attacking form since returning to action, scoring seven unanswered, and Courtois has had very little to do in either match.
In perhaps more unlikely news, however, Matej Delac started for Ceske Budejovice this weekend in one of what will be a series of friendlies during the extended Czech winter break. The Croatian, who has not played a competitive league game since leaving Inter Zapresic in 2010, played 45 minutes of a 4-2 defeat to FK Jablonec. He kept a clean sheet, only for his replacement to ship four second-half strikes.
The Gambrinus Liga resumes on February 20th, with Delac aiming to earn a starting place between now and then.