The first Loan Report of 2014 begins in familiar form as Patrick Bamford continued the run of a Chelsea loanee scoring in every week of the season to date, but as we enter a month of transfer activity, the prolific hitman is amongst the many who are about to embark upon new challenges.
Bamford’s seventeenth and final goal for Milton Keynes Dons came in the FA Cup away to holders Wigan, but it came after his final home game ended in a goalless stalemate against Colchester United, for whom another Blues youngster, Sam Walker, put in a sensational performance. Walker, along with the woodwork, prevented Bamford from signing off in front of his own fans with a goal as the Us earned a point in a goalless draw, but he capped a fine half-season under Karl Robinson by scoring a late equaliser in a topsy-turvy FA Cup tie on Saturday.
Wigan led 2-0 before half-time but were pegged back before the break as Ben Reeves struck twice, the second of which was assisted impressively by Bamford. The Latics then went ahead again before Bamford struck to earn a replay, albeit one in which he won’t feature. Instead, he now heads for Championship promotion hopefuls Derby County, who lost their FA Cup place at the expense of Jose Mourinho’s first team on Sunday.
Derby, who are managed by former England manager Steve McClaren, have been in scintillating form for the last two months and are amongst those who hold a legitimate chance of playing Premier League football next season. In centre forward Chris Martin they have a man with 15 goals to date but they have little behind him, and have therefore acquired Bamford to add depth and competition but also to add a very talented player with plenty of short-term upside.
Since our last update, Romelu Lukaku played a frustrating 81 minutes for Everton away to Stoke on New Year’s Day before taking a breather as an unused substitute for the club’s emphatic 4-0 cup victory over Queens Park Rangers.
Victor Moses got a quarter of an hour off the bench for Liverpool in a 2-0 win over Hull and then started their FA Cup fixture at home to Oldham, but was withdrawn at half time with the Reds faltering.
In the Championship, Nathaniel Chalobah started and played some 80 minutes for Nottingham Forest against Reading on Wednesday, and played well to boot. He was absent from the matchday squad on Sunday against West Ham though, presumably under direction from Chelsea for fears of him being cup tied for whoever he joins should he leave Forest at the end of his deal on January 15th. His colleagues didn’t exactly miss him, beating a much-changed Hammers side 5-0.
Todd Kane missed two more Blackburn games with a thigh injury which has seen him return south for treatment at Cobham. The latter of those fixtures was a cup clash at home to Manchester City, compounding the disappointment further.
Josh McEachran’s last chance to feature in a Watford shirt came and went with a postponed fixture at Yeovil and he has returned to Chelsea with his loan having expired.
In League One, Milan Lalkovic put in another solid shift for Walsall in a 2-1 New Year’s Day win over Sheffield United but, like Sam Walker, had the weekend off with his team knocked out of the cup in a previous round. George Saville, meanwhile, missed Brentford’s midweek victory against Peterborough through suspension and then too had the weekend off with the Bees already eliminated.
The Spanish leagues returned from a brief winter interlude this weekend and it did so in familiar fashion for Thibaut Courtois. The Belgian kept another clean sheet as Atlético Madrid won 1-0 at Málaga to maintain their title push.
Oriol Romeu started Valencia’s first match under new manager Juan Antonio Pizzi and was one of their better performers in a 2-0 win over local rivals Levante. On Sunday, Marko Marin made his return from injury for Sevilla as a late substitute in a 3-0 win at home to Getafe.
Uli Dávila was named as a substitute ahead of Córdoba’s home game versus Recreativo and only saw five minutes at the end of a 2-0 win which saw his team move up to seventh in La Segunda.
Jhon Pírez played 25 minutes for Leganés as they lost 3-1 away to Real Unión.
Wallace and Internazionale travel to Lazio for a game tomorrow but the Brazilian is unlikely to be anything more than a substitute as per usual. Suggestions emerged via Sky Italia that Chelsea might be terminating his stay with the Nerazzurri ahead of schedule, but Wallace’s agent quickly dismissed that notion.
The Dutch league remains on a winter break, but there were changes at Vitesse this week as Burkina Faso international Bertrand Traore joined until the end of the season. He joins Lucas Piazon, Patrick van Aanholt, Christian Atsu and Cristian Cuevas at the Gelredome, but both Sam Hutchinson and Gael Kakuta have left and returned to London.
Thorgan Hazard and Zulte Waregem are still on a winter break too. Talk has picked up in the last fortnight that he may trade his maroon colours for the white and purple of Anderlecht before the resumption of the Jupiler League, but whilst the player has refused to comment on the speculation, Zulte themselves have adamantly denied any suggestions that the younger Hazard brother will be moving anywhere.