As the transfer window opens, it feels prudent to take stock of the twenty-something Chelsea players currently out on loan.
It’s been an action-packed first half of the season, with headline-makers aplenty, and the trend has generally been positive for the (mostly) young Blues developing elsewhere. However, the picture is a lot less clear for a number of others, and they in particular will be hoping for a change of scenery in the next month.
It promises to be a busy period at all levels at Stamford Bridge, so without further ado, let’s take a look at each and every one of the players out on loan (in alphabetical order) and what lies in store for them for the rest of the 2012-13 season.
Patrick van Aanholt, Vitesse Arnhem
Last season was a frustrating affair for Van Aanholt, but it’s been a much more pleasing time for him in 2012-13 and he has become a key starter for title-chasing Vitesse. Talk of a full cap for the Dutch national team has picked up of late as media interest picks up and with Ashley Cole’s future at Stamford Bridge apparently bleak, he could be eyeing competition with Ryan Bertrand as early as this coming August. For now, however, he has an Eredivisie trophy to fight for.
Amin Affane, Roda JC
As you may have read earlier this week, Affane doesn’t seem to be too positive about his prospects of a career at Chelsea and has already begun considering his next steps. He is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with foreign clubs as of today, and he should be fully expected to do so. Roda, as his current employer (albeit temporary), have the inside track and a reported first option to do so.
Patrick Bamford, Milton Keynes Dons
It all started so well for Bamford at MK Dons. A pair of assists on his debut led to glowing reports and some over-the-top praise from manager Karl Robinson and he appeared destined for a very good six weeks or so at the club. Unfortunately, injury struck and he has only managed 40 minutes of play since (still finding time to hit the post). With his latest ailment apparently severe enough to keep him out for a while, a return to Stadium:MK is unlikely, but he could certainly return to League One later in the season and be a huge addition for a promotion-chasing club.
Yossi Benayoun, West Ham United
Yossi’s return to the Boleyn Ground hasn’t really gone as planned and he is widely expected to find himself a new and perhaps more permanent home in the early days of the transfer window.
Jeffrey Bruma, Hamburg
Bruma is midway through the second year of a two-year loan to Hamburg, but in truth neither season has really gone to plan for him. A substitute for most of this season, he has been linked with a switch to the Eredivisie, with a host of clubs supposedly lining up for his signature. Table-toppers PSV Eindhoven appear to head the queue whilst Chelsea affiliate Vitesse are also in the picture. If he does move, don’t rule out a permanent switch; he’s now 21 and has a host of challengers for playing time back in England.
Nathaniel Chalobah, Watford
Seventeen year-olds (as he has been for most of the season) aren’t supposed to be this good. Chalobah has largely been superb for promotion-chasing Watford so far, and whilst there’s been a few hiccups along the way, they’ve been par for the course for one so young. The bright moments have HUGELY outnumbered the bumps though, and he has earned Gianfranco Zola’s full trust. His deal is due to expire this week but talks are ongoing about extending it. It makes sense for everyone involved.
Conor Clifford, Crawley Town
Two ill-fated League One loans this season have really done young Conor no favours and as he approaches the end of his Blues contract, he must pick his next home carefully. He retains the trust of Ireland manager Giovanni Trapattoni, who has consistently included him in the full senior squad in recent times, but to make the breakthrough and debut in the emerald green, he absolutely must be playing regular first-team football somewhere.
Thibaut Courtois, Atlético Madrid
Courtois appears set to see out his second and final year in Madrid and Atlético will be desperate for that to happen as they appear to be Barcelona’s most likely challengers for the Spanish league title. The only potential spanner in the works is if Petr Cech winds up with a serious injury, at which point Courtois would almost certainly be pressed into starting his Chelsea career ahead of schedule.
Ulises Dávila, Sabadell
The Mexican winger has found himself an unlikely home in the Spanish Second Division and with the Catalans looking to push for a promotion place nobody predicted of them, it appears logical that he’ll remain there. His long-term Chelsea prospects are, at this point, rather remote, so he’s playing just as much for his own future as well.
Kevin De Bruyne, Werder Bremen
The Belgian, who signed for Chelsea a year ago, has been arguably Bremen’s best player this season, and an undeniable influence on their fortunes. He has been linked with a switch to Wolfsburg, largely because former Bremen General Manager Klaus Allofs has made the same move, but is expected to remain where he is.
Matej Delac, Vitória Guimaraes
It’s been another season of woe for the once highly-rated Croatian goalkeeper. A teenage prodigy at Inter Zapresic in his homeland, the story since departing has been regrettable. He has warmed the bench at Vitesse, Dynamo Ceske Budejovice and now Vitória Guimaraes and must be wondering where things went wrong. With Brazilian incumbent Douglas in brilliant form ahead of him, he’ll hope to move on, and a return to Inter could be the friendliest port of call. They’ve been rumoured to be interested.
Michael Essien, Real Madrid
The Ghanaian is nigh-on certain to remain in Madrid through until the end of the season, despite some talk of a possible return to England. He has been a squad option for Jose Mourinho so far, even filling in at left-back, and doesn’t appear to be on Rafael Benitez’ immediate radar.
Ben Gordon, Birmingham City
It appears that Gordon only really finds fortune in Scotland. He has had two very good spells with Kilmarnock thus far in his career, but when loaned out in England he has struggled to convince managers at Tranmere Rovers, Peterboroguh United, Scunthorpe United and now Birmingham City. He will return from St. Andrew’s this week and perhaps start looking for a permanent home as he enters the last six months of his Chelsea deal.
Thorgan Hazard, Zulte Waregem
No sooner had Hazard junior arrived in England, he was off again. A loan to Zulte Waregem took him to Belgian football for the first time in his professional career and it has proven to be a masterstroke. His effective and creative displays at the top of the midfield have helped lead Zulte to their best season in club history as they sit second in the table at the turn of the year. He’s there until May and that simply will not change.
Sam Hutchinson, Nottingham Forest
The last four and a half months of Sam Hutchinson’s career have been entirely representative of his career to date. A hell of a lot of promise and a series of outstanding displays gave way to injury problems, and he’s been out since mid-September with another knee problem. He is due to finally return to training this month but now has a new manager in Alex McLeish and it remains to be seen whether the Scot wants Hutch at the City Ground.
Gael Kakuta, Vitesse Arnhem
This season took a while to get going for Kakuta but better late than never, he really sparked into life in November and has earned a regular starting place under Fred Rutten. As Vitesse look to maintain a title challenge, expect the Frenchman to be front and centre in providing the ammunition for Wilfried Bony.
Tomas Kalas, Vitesse Arnhem
For the second consective season, Kalas has been amongst the very best defenders in the Netherlands, and has done it in a different position this year. Whereas in 2011-12 he played at centre-back, this time around he’s been playing at right-back, and has been just as effective and influential. It’s debatable whether he’s being tested sufficiently by remaining and there have been whispers of moving him to the Bundesliga, which would be fascinating.
Todd Kane, Preston North End
Todd’s first foray into the professional game hasn’t exactly gone to plan and after a couple of appearances for Preston, he’s failed to feature for most of the last month. The deal is due to expire next week and it would be a surprise if he remained at Deepdale.
Milan Lalkovic, Vitória Guimaraes
It hasn’t really worked out for Lalkovic in Portugal, which is a huge disappointment as he went there with such promise and hope. A substitute for most of the season so far, he’s done well when coming off the bench but simply hasn’t had enough minutes to really showcase himself. He is due to be a free agent this summer and so has some interesting decisions to make in January, and has been linked with a move to join some Chelsea team-mates in Holland at Vitesse.
Romelu Lukaku, West Bromwich Albion
With Chelsea’s striker problems well-documented, Lukaku’s development at West Brom this season has led to many a call for his return to SW6. Don’t expect it to happen. Benitez, Lukaku and Baggies manager Steve Clarke have all noted how unlikely a step it is, and with Demba Ba’s arrival on the horizon, the Belgian forward can remain in the Midlands, where he is beginning to really come along.
Josh McEachran, Middlesbrough
Another who has been talked about as a potential returnee due to personnel problems in his position, McEachran has been vocal about his desire to remain at Middlesbrough and aid their promotion push. With the David Luiz midfield experiment apparently set to continue and with Frank Lampard fit again, the central midfield area is in capable hands for now, and therefore the England Under-21 international, who is currently injured, should remain in red until May.
Kenneth Omeruo, ADO Den Haag
Nigerian defender Omeruo is approaching the one-year anniversary of his arrival in Den Haag and for one so raw and inexperienced when he moved from Standard Liege, he has been an undeniable success thus far. It would be a huge surprise if he were to play elsewhere in the second half of the season, and should he make the cut for Nigeria’s final African Cup of Nations squad, it’ll be even harder for that to happen.
Jhon Pírez, Leganés
Pírez has played so little in recent years it’s dubious as to whether he really exists. Leganés, as you might expect from a Spanish third tier side, haven’t exactly been forthcoming with information as to why he hasn’t played at all this season, but given he failed a medical when trialling with Sabadell, it serves to guess that the injury problems which have afflicted his career for the last four years continue to do so.
Sam Walker, Bristol Rovers
Walker has found himself once again in the thick of a League Two relegation scrap. A half-season spell at Northampton Town last season gave way to a more positive period up one division at Yeovil Town, but he’s back down in the fourth tier this term with rock-bottom Bristol Rovers. First choice out of necessity rather than anything else, he has a new manager in John Ward who may wish to use the loan market in a more flexible way for his squad, and he could therefore become a casualty of that approach.
Of course, there’s also a host of other Chelsea talents who will be hoping to join the masses of those flung far and wide across the footballing world. Under-21 manager Dermot Drummy has already mentioned that the club hopes to get Billy Clifford and George Saville moves to Championship clubs, whilst Rohan Ince and Archange Nkumu will be hoping to find regular football after not hitting it off at Yeovil (and in Nkumu’s case, Colchester) earlier this season.
They’re both also approaching the end of their Chelsea contracts, as are Aziz Deen-Conteh, Adam Coombes and James Ashton. Moves this month are vital for all of them, be it for their Chelsea prospects or their own interests, so expect them to be involved in the moving and shaking going on. The rest of the Under-21 squad remain slightly too young to be going anywhere just yet, but it’s going to be a very busy period for sure.
As always, you can keep abreast of the absolute latest news on Chelsea’s loanees here at TheChels.net and on Twitter @chelseayouth.