As regular readers of The Loan Report will know, we like to highlight big achievements as and when they occur. Typically, this takes the form of a goalscoring performance by one of Chelsea’s young loanees, and more often than not it’s a big, recognisable name.
However, every now and then it’s one of the more obscure faces who makes an impact and gets to stand front and centre. That’s the case this week as Mexican winger Ulises Dávila, Swedish scheme Amin Affane, and Nigerian full-back Kenneth Omeruo (whilst not scoring himself) were decisive for their respective teams this weekend.
Dávila, for those less familiar with his story, joined Chelsea last summer from Guadalajara and immediately joined Vitesse Arnhem on loan. He impressed their coaching staff but rarely featured in the first team, either because of his lack of physical imposition or because the team didn’t utilise a typical ‘number ten’ in their formation.
This season, he’s playing regularly at Sabadell, who ply their trade in the Spanish Second Division. Despite being relegation favourites at the start of the season, the Harlequinistas have started the season in very good form and continued in that fashion on Saturday with a 2-1 win over the Spanish Guadalajara; not affiliated to the Mexican side Dávila joined from.
Our man scored the winning goal five minutes from time, having only come off the bench moments earlier. He popped up at the near post to head into the top corner, despite being one of the shortest players on the pitch.
Dávila is one of three Blues youngsters playing in Spain, along with Uruguayan forward Jhon Pírez and Belgian international goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Pírez is yet to feature due to the latest in a string of injuries which have blighted his brief career to date, and was once again absent from the Leganés team which lost to Getafe B this weekend.
Courtois, meanwhile, was sidelined through injury for Atlético Madrid’s midweek trip to Betis, having suffered a knock to his knee against Valladolid last Sunday, but was deemed fit to return for Sunday’s trip to Espanyol, where he kept a first club clean sheet since late August in a 1-0 win. He was in magnificent form and looked as good as he has all season, after a rare shaky spell.
In the Netherlands, the chances of impactful performances are increased simply by volume of numbers with five players in the Eredivisie, but they’ve all thus far proven to be handy players in their own rights.
Swedish Under-19 international Affane started on the bench for Roda away to Groningen after a recent run in the starting team but, like Dávila, he came off the bench to play a part for his team, grabbing the second of two equalisers in a game his team would ultimately lose in stoppage time. It was quite the strike too:
Earlier in the weekend, defender Omeruo was initially credited with the first of six goals in the Heracles-ADO Den Haag thriller, but upon closer inspection the strike was ruled to have been an own goal.
Omeruo is a lively, enthusiastic presence at right-back, a player in the mould of a Branislav Ivanovic in that he has a centre-back’s build but the requisite athleticism and attacking attributes to make an impact going forward.
Since moving to Den Haag from Standard Liege in January on an eighteen-month loan, he’s been almost ever present and an integral figure in a team looking to establish themselves as top-half regulars after seasons of struggle.
The three other Chelsea youngsters in Holland are all at Vitesse Arnhem, of course. Tomas Kalas and Patrick van Aanholt have been there for some time and were joined in August by Gael Kakuta, and the Frenchman was finally fit to begin his career at a new club in Dutch Cup action on Wednesday night.
He played the first half of a comfortable 3-0 win over part-timers Gemert as he builds his way back towards match fitness after suffering an injury shortly after his deadline-day move. Van Aanholt and Kalas played the full match at opposing full-back positions as per usual, and did so again at the weekend when a 2-1 win at Utrecht (with Kakuta fit enough to be on the bench) proved enough to put the club top of the league.
Next door in Belgium, Thorgan Hazard has settled quickly at Zulte Waregem and has thus far been a catalyst for a boost in form for an upwardly mobile club. They won 4-1 at Lierse on Saturday to go fourth in the early season standings, with the younger Hazard playing 90 minutes once again and proving his first assist for the last goal of the game.
In Germany, Jeffrey Bruma missed a second successive game – and win – for Hamburg with a knee problem, and could conceivably struggle to get back into a winning team when he returns. Thus far he’s had the respect of manager Thorsten Fink and been a regular in the line-up, but such is the recent form of Heiko Westermann and Michael Mancienne he may need to bide his time and wait for an opportunity.
Kevin De Bruyne has no such problems at Werder Bremen, where BILD named him as one of the top ten signings of the Bundesliga summer. He played a pair of matches this week, victorious against Freiburg but defeated at home by Bayern Munich.
Having found the net in the two previous games, De Bruyne turned provider at Freiburg, laying on the winning goal for Aaron Hunt with a now-trademark slide-rule pass in behind the defence.
Completing our tour of continental Europe, Milan Lalkovic continues to be an impact substitute for Vitória, playing 25 minutes of the second half in their 2-0 home loss to Braga. Slowly but surely he’s working his way into things and will get to play from the start sooner rather than later. As usual, Matej Delac was the backup goalkeeper.
Back on domestic shores in England, it was a quieter week than usual with a host of players having either come to the end of their deals or absent from team selections for one reason or another.
Both Rohan Ince and Archange Nkumu departed Yeovil Town this week, with Ince succumbing to another injury whilst Nkumu struggled to impress and failed to earn an extension. Having started the campaign with three players in League One, Chelsea now have none, as the pair follow Conor Clifford in returning to Cobham.
Sam Walker may follow suit soon, although he remains a Bristol Rovers player right now despite the signing of former Blues schoolboy and current Fulham stopper Neil Etheridge. The Filipino international has taken over the starting job from Walker, who sat on the bench again this week and watched Mark McGhee’s side pick up a rare victory.
Romelu Lukaku started West Brom’s midweek Capital One Cup tie at home to Liverpool – who has has already scored against this season – and played 70 minutes in which he generally terrorised Jamie Carragher. He returned to the bench for Sunday’s local derby against Aston Villa but came on with twenty minutes left to throw his considerable weight around, and came within inches of scoring when a deflected effort clipped the outside of the post.
Also missing derby action was Sam Hutchinson, who is not quite ready to return after a recent knee injury and thus missed Nottingham Forest’s always-interesting clash with neighbours Derby County.
Josh McEachran and Nathaniel Chalobah continue to impress though, starting and impressing for Middlesbrough and Watford respectively. McEachran was rested amidst wholesale cup changes in midweek before returning for Saturday’s hosting of Leicester, and he played well despite the eventual defeat, and should have had his first goal in Boro colours but was denied by the crossbar.
Chalobah played 80 minutes for Watford in his first away game at Huddersfield, and as usual looked completely at home in a deeper midfield role. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Ben Gordon at Birmingham, as he still cannot find a way into their Matchday squad. At this point in his career, signing permanently for Kilmarnock would surely be the safest bet for him.