Vitesse Arnhem, one of Chelsea’s Dutch affiliates, confirmed this afternoon that defender Patrick van Aanholt will return to the Gelredome on loan for the duration of the 2012-13 campaign.
The Under-21 international spent the second half of last season at the club and received the regular playing time he sought, having struggled to work his way into Wigan Athletic’s team in the first half of the year.
With Ashley Cole still firmly first choice at Stamford Bridge and Ryan Bertrand emerging as a very credible alternative, Van Aanholt’s best chance of playing was certainly away from Stamford Bridge and at the age of nearly 22, will also be considering a potential full-time departure from the Blues.
He made nine league appearances in the Eredivisie from January through to May, as well as one cup outing, and proved effective in an attacking role, but his most glaring weaknesses in defence remained evident and he was left out towards the end of the season.
Southampton have been chasing Vitesse’s versatile left-sided player Alexander Buttner, with a deal once thought to be likely now on the verge of falling apart. Should it be resurrected, Van Aanholt would be able to provide similar versatility along the left flank, perhaps in a more attacking role.
Of course, he must earn his place, and under a new manager to boot. John van den Brom departed to take over at Anderlecht and has been replaced by Fred Rutten, who was released from his contract at PSV earlier this summer.
Van Aanholt, who will reportedly wear the number 38 shirt, is to be joined by Tomas Kalas once again, with the Czech being an integral figure in their run to Europa League qualification last season.
He is currently training with the first team squad at Cobham but should return to the Netherlands later this week in preparations for the club’s match against Lokomotiv Plovdiv in the Europa League preliminaries.