With January approaching, Chelsea’s relentless pursuit of flooding the football world with their own talent on loan is bound to pick up again. With over 20 players already out and about, it’s not easy to come up with a shortlist of those who may join them, but here’s five to keep an eye on as we get stuck into the transfer market once more.
After something of a first-team breakthrough last season (six appearances), it might have appeared something of a backward step for Aké when he began the 2013-14 campaign back in Dermot Drummy’s Under-21 setup, but the reasons behind the assignment were explained early in the season and made a fair degree of sense. By remaining in London for the first half of this term, the Dutch defender will now qualify as a home-grown, club developed player.
Aké said the possibility of a loan would be explored again once that process was complete and to his credit, he’s had an excellent Under-21 season to date, performing well at left-back, centre-back and in midfield, and has been an impressive captain to boot. He’s ready for a more testing environment and stationing him at Vitesse is a logical move to make. He would have to beat out either Jan-Arie van der Heijden (CB) or Marko Vejinovic (CM) for regular action but would arguably be an upgrade over both for the style of football manager Peter Bosz is looking to play.
A mainstay of the Under-21 squad for the last eighteen months and with over 100 youth development games to his name, Baker is ready for senior professional football. His influence weighs heavily over every match he features in, and with 21 goals in his last 50 appearances, has made monumental strides in his end product. Having garnered considerable interest from Championship clubs last summer, it stands to reason that one amongst them will look to add the England Under-19 midfielder to their squad for the rest of the season, and it’s a level he should adapt to very quickly.
Following a hush-hush three-year association with Chelsea, Bertrand Traore exploded onto the scene last July with two goals on the club’s tour of Asia, and in doing so created quite a buzz. The Blues confirmed his signing of a professional contract in October, and suggested that the move would become official in January. Hopes are exceedingly high for the Burkina Faso international, but work permit concerns may hinder his initial integration into Jose Mourinho’s squad. A loan deal may therefore have to happen, and there should be no shortage of interest in his services. A left-footed forward blessed with power and athleticism under the disguise of silky-smooth movement, linking up with elder brother Alain at French club Lorient would be an interesting proposal as Les Merlus battle for a European spot.
There’s probably more interest in Islam Feruz’s services than there is a realistic chance of him going away on loan, but with that interest comes the increased likelihood that Chelsea are presented with an offer too good to refuse. A regular goalscorer at every age group since moving from Celtic in 2011, his natural game translates well to featuring as a dangerous poacher-type for a Championship club looking to boost their chances of whatever ambitions they have for the rest of the season. However, it would take a proposal of a perfect fit with assurances of regular action if he is to leave behind an assault on Under-21 and UEFA Youth League silverware.
Kenneth Omeruo or Tomas Kalas
These two 20 year-old defenders have been on the fringes of the first team squad all season but have had their progress hampered slightly by injuries suffered during the summer months. Kalas suffered a fractured leg at the back end of the Asia tour whilst Omeruo hurt his shoulder during the Confederations Cup with Nigeria and was forced to undergo surgery which kept him out until late October.
Both are now fighting fit and raring to make up for lost time, but they are competing with each other for one place; they’re both centre-backs who can feature at right-back when required, and whilst neither would necessarily become a regular under Mourinho just now, they would each do a good job if called upon.
Omeruo is arguably further ahead in his development if only for his considerably greater exposure to international football, having shone at the African Nations Cup a year ago and then again in Brazil. He’s the prototypically athletic, strong and mobile defender Mourinho has favoured before, and with David Luiz’s future up in the air, anything could happen.
The Special One did though single out Kalas for attention on his first day back in the job and is said to be very intrigued by his excellent speed and awareness, especially for his tender years. Ultimately, both need to play, and whilst a spell away for both can’t be ruled out, it would appear to be one or the other.
One or two others in that bubble between Under-21 and senior football may find themselves living the road life in early 2014, with Billy Clifford highly likely to seek regular action after four months frustrated firstly by lack of opportunities at Yeovil and then by injury. Lamisha Musonda will turn 22 in March and with no discernible future at Chelsea is expected to turn his attentions towards the next step, and there might even be one or two managers interested in Jamal Blackman’s services if their goalkeeping situation isn’t quite as they want it to be.
You can keep fully up to date with every single one of Chelsea’s loanees throughout the season here at TheChels.net with The Loan Report every Sunday evening, whilst regular updates and coverage is provided on Twitter @chelseayouth and particularly the #CFC #loanwatch hashtags.