Another dramatic weekend of loanee action – particularly in England – saw some young Chelsea players draw their 2012-13 campaign to a close, whilst others have one very big game to come next weekend with very, very high stakes.
It’s appropriate this week to begin with Nathaniel Chalobah, who scored what can only be described as a goal of the season candidate for Watford on Friday night in a 2-1 win over Leicester City, live in front of the television cameras.
Shortly before half-time, the 18 year-old midfielder ambled forward to strike a loose ball with absurd venom and swerve from fully 30 yards. The ball thundered in off the crossbar, leaving Kasper Schmeichel with no chance whatsoever.
The goal ensured a Man of the Match award and, more importantly, three points which ensured the Hornets are now just within one of Hull City heading into the final game of the season. Watford host Leeds whilst Hull welcome champions Cardiff City to the KC Stadium knowing that they have to match Watford’s result if they are to achieve promotion. Anything else and it will be Chalobah, Gianfranco Zola and Watford joining the country’s elite for next year.
Todd Kane and Blackburn secured safety in their 45th league game of the season, earning a point at home to Crystal Palace to avoid further doom and gloom at Ewood Park. Kane signed a new deal with Chelsea this week and has been very impressive on loan in the Championship, and could well return to Rovers again for another spell in future.
George Saville had a very impressive 80 minutes for Millwall – who are not safe themselves yet – in a rare league outing for the Lions, but Sam Hutchinson was not able to make it yet another recent Chelsea loanee derby as he missed out for Nottingham Forest through injury. Forest are in a four-team fight for two playoff berths and they will hope to have Hutchinson fit for any potential extension to their season.
Josh McEachran didn’t feature in Middlesbrough’s matchday squad at home to Charlton, denying him the chance for a final send-off at the Riverside Stadium.
In League One, it was a big afternoon for Sam Walker and Billy Clifford as they sought to keep Colchester United away from relegation. They did just that, as Walker’s ninth clean sheet of the season and an enthusiastic performance from Clifford helped secure a 2-0 win and last day survival. The U’s first goal came from a rebound after Clifford had hit the crossbar, but both Blues loanees came away from the experience with great enthusiasm and excitement at being crucial pieces in what was an amazing turnaround for the Essex-based team.
Patrick Bamford had a fine end to his MK Dons stay too, scoring his fourth goal of the season in some style away to Stevenage. Manager Karl Robinson wants him back next season, but the blond forward may find himself attracting suitors from a higher level.
In the Premier League, Romelu Lukaku was doing his best not to be overshadowed, for whilst West Brom have little to play for, the Belgian rampaged his way through Southampton to the tune of a goal and two assists.
It goes without saying that he should be back in SW6 next season and having this sort of impact in the Chelsea shirt he cherishes so much.
Over in Spain, Thibaut Courtois took part in the Madrid derby for Atlético against Real, and despite making a couple of decent saves, he ended up on the losing side again as Real kept their vice-like grip intact against their city rivals.
Lucas Piazón was not involved for Málaga against Getafe, and nor was Ulises Dávila for Sabadell against Mirandés after he suffered a leg injury which will rule him out for three weeks. A disappointing weekend for involvement in Spain was compounded by Jhon Pírez’ absence again for a Leganés side which beat Rayo Vallecano B.
Injuries also curtailed Kevin De Bruyne’s involvement this weekend as he missed his first game of the season for Werder Bremen after picking up a slight knock this week. How much longer the Belgian playmaker appears in the Loan Report remains to be seen, for rumours of a permanent switch to the likes of Borussia Dortmund or Bayer Leverkusen continue to abound.
Jeffrey Bruma had no part of Hamburg’s trip to Schalke and he will certainly be playing elsewhere next season, having confirmed that he has no future at HSV after an unsuccessful two-year loan.
In Belgium, Thorgan Hazard and Zulte Waregem remain top of the Jupiler League despite a 1-0 defeat to Standard Liege on Sunday evening. The younger Hazard played well in spells, particularly late on and provided a number of impressive deliveries into the box which were not capitalised upon by his team-mates.
In the Netherlands, Patrick van Aanholt, Tomas Kalas and Gael Kakuta all helped keep up Vitesse’s challenge for a Champions League finish with a comprehensive 3-1 home win over Willem II. Van Aanholt can lay claim to an early assist, as his shot was blocked and turned home by Mike Havenaar.
Kenneth Omeruo played his customary 90 minutes for ADO Den Haag in a 1-1 home draw with VVV Venlo.
In Croatia, there was a timely and much needed three points for Matej Delac and Inter Zapresic as they triumphed 2-1 away to Zadar to win for the first time in five months. Delac, who returned to the international fold for Croatia’s Under-20s in the week, had a decent game to help his side off the foot of the league and within two points of their beaten opponents, who occupy the last safe place in the standings.
In Brazil, Wallace played the full game for Fluminense in a 2-0 win over Bangu last Sunday night, picking up a late booking, and he should be involved later against Volta Redonda.
Cristian Cuevas was an unused substitute for Chile’s senior national team in a friendly against Brazil this week, a fine achievement nonetheless for an 18 year-old, and then returned to club duty for O’Higgins on Saturday, getting 68 minutes in a win away to Unión Espanola.