To round up the 2012-13 youth football season at Chelsea, we’re reviewing every single one of the Chelsea youngsters currently on the books who have spent time out on loan during the campaign. Here, we focus on Patrick van Aanholt.
Club: Vitesse Arnhem (Netherlands)
Appearances: 31 (1 goal)
For some players, it takes them a bit longer to put everything together and truly flourish. For Patrick van Aanholt, who is to turn 23 this coming August, the puzzle is finally coming together after a stop-start time of things, and it comes as no surprise that he’s doing it in the most stable environment of his professional career.
A move to Vitesse Arnhem in January 2012 allowed him to get his head down and really push for consistency in his game after less than stellar loan spells in England at Coventry City, Newcastle United, Leicester City and Wigan Athletic, and after a positive half-season in the Eredivisie, he was only too eager to renew for a full campaign in 2012-13.
It’s really been the making of him as he’s emerged as the best left-back in the league, a credible threat in attack and an ever-improving defender as well as a relentless and committed athlete. He has had his name pushed forward for full Dutch national team honours, and there are many who believe he should be first choice at the back by the time the 2014 World Cup rolls around.
He’s had a couple of off-field disagreements – one with the Dutch Under-21 manager and one with another player over Instagram (of all things) but both issues have been resolved as he attempts to keep his head screwed on and continue what has been a very productive spell for him.
News of Ashley Cole’s one-year extended stay at Stamford Bridge pretty much postponed any notion of Patrick returning to London this summer to fight it out with Ryan Bertrand and any new signings for a spot in the Blues’ first team, and so it might well be that he stays with Vitesse again. There might be increased interest in his services from more capable clubs, but amongst the player’s highest priorities is to earn regular playing time and exposure in the run-up to the Brazilian World Cup so as to stand the best chance possible of featuring. Right now, Vitesse offers that security better than anyone else, but a gamble on a better club could catapult him to the next level.