A busy last week of the transfer window on the loan front saw Chelsea take their tally of prospects playing elsewhere up to 30, but it was a familiar face in Patrick Bamford that kept the unbroken run of goalscoring weeks up as the Derby man netted twice to headline this week’s action.
Having scored in two of his first three appearances for Derby County as an impact substitute, Bamford was handed a first start for the Rams by Steve McClaren for the midweek visit of Yeovil Town, and the faith was justified when he scored the first of three goals to kick-start a remarkable turnaround from 0-2 behind to win 3-2.
Retaining his place for Saturday’s trip to Birmingham, the former Nottingham Forest hitman was at it once again, showing persistence to stick his chance away at the second time of asking to grab Derby’s first goal in a 3-3 draw.
There was always going to be a few doubts about whether he could handle the step up from League One football with Milton Keynes Dons – where he scored seventeen goals before the New Year – but despite not yet having been given the centre forward’s role at the iPro Stadium (Chris Martin has retained that), four goals from a wider supporting role has shown versatility as well as the clinical immediate impact.
It was an interesting and busy week elsewhere in England, albeit for differing reasons. Romelu Lukaku will be sidelined for up to a month with an ankle injury suffered in Everton’s heavy 4-0 Merseyside derby defeat at Liverpool on Tuesday night, a game in which Victor Moses saw twenty minutes of late action from the bench with the game well out of sight.
Moses remained an unused substitute on Sunday as Liverpool drew at West Brom, but there was a double helping of action for Aston Villa’s Ryan Bertrand, who completed a pair of solid outings at home to West Brom and away to Everton. Fitness permitting, he’ll be an ever-present (or as good as) between now and the end of the season at Villa Park.
In The Championship, Josh McEachran made his Wigan Athletic debut on Saturday afternoon at home to Wigan, and came off the bench in the second half to directly influence the result. In a cameo display described by manager Uwe Rosler as “magnificent”, he was creative and threatening, laying on this fabulous assist for Marc-Antoine Fortuné to score the first of their two goals in a 2-1 win.
It was also a good week for Todd Kane, who returned to the Blackburn starting line-up on Saturday for something of a local derby at home to Blackpool, and picked up the sponsors’ Man of the Match for his efforts in a 2-0 win. It was just the ticket for the young right-back, who was restored to the team after a spell out through injury, and although he benefited from replacement Adam Henley being sidelined with an ailment of his own, his performance will have gone a long way to making the starting berth his once again.
Middlesbrough pair Kenneth Omeruo and Nathaniel Chalobah both made their full debuts away to Doncaster on Saturday and were solid in an entirely dull goalless draw. Omeruo started at centre-back whilst Chalobah played in midfield, dropping into the defence for the last ten minutes in a tactical reshuffle. Both had been unused substitutes earlier in the week at home to Wigan (another 0-0 dud) but with their fitness increasing day by day, they should be regular features under Aitor Karanka going forward.
In League One, Milan Lalkovic played well in Walsall’s Tuesday night draw at home to Swindon, and then had the weekend off as their Saturday fixture fell foul of the weather. George Saville and Brentford did have two dates though, with two 90 minute outings during a win and a draw helping keep the Bees atop the league standings.
The European weekend kicked off with a big clash at the business end of the Eredivisie table as fourth-placed Feyenoord hosted Vitesse, who went into De Kuip two points behind league leaders Ajax in second. Lucas Piazon, Christian Atsu and Patrick van Aanholt started in an unchanged selection by Peter Bosz, whilst Bertrand Traore played most of the second half as a substitute in a 1-1 draw which threatened to further detail Vitesse’s title ambitions, but Ajax dropped points at Utrecht on Sunday to leave things as they were after the latest round of action.
It was a third consecutive sub-par display by the Gelderlanders, even if a point away to a tough opponent like Feyenoord is largely looked upon as a positive. After a poor start they played half an hour of good football and silenced the crowd, but then went behind shortly before half time as Ronald Koeman’s side picked up the tempo. Captain Guram Kashia equalised earlier in the second half and Vitesse had the better chances to win it late on – notably through Atsu and Zakaria Labyad – but took a point back home with them.
Piazon was quiet once again but whereas he was replaced last time out at home to NEC Nijmegen, he did complete the match this time and played with Traore for the first time in competitive action. The Burkinabe floated between a role wide on the right and a centre forward position, and was lively if a bit casual in his approach during decisive moments.
Atsu was arguably the most impressive of the four Chelsea boys involved, seeing a lot of the ball and making incisive movements, but found his finishing lacking on two or three occasions. Van Aanholt, meanwhile, played his usual game, going close to a goal with a shot which drew a good save from Erwin Mulder, and was largely untested at the back with Feyenoord instead giving right-back Kelvin Leerdam a torrid time through the impressive Jean-Paul Boetius.
Cristian Cuevas was rumoured to be close to a deadline day switch to second tier club FC Eindhoven, but the deal never materialised.
Stipe Perica, the Croatian forward stationed at NAC Breda, was an unused substitute in a 2-1 win at Heracles.
Thibaut Courtois and Atlético Madrid moved a step closer to retaining their Copa del Rey crown this midweek as they won 2-1 away to Athletic Bilbao in the second leg of their Quarter Final and in doing so advancing 3-1 on aggregate to the small matter of a Semi Final date against Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid.
He might’ve been a little disappointed with the goal he conceded to Aritz Aduriz, but made up for it somewhat on Sunday with his 14th clean sheet of the season as Atlético laid waste to Real Sociedad 4-0 at the Vicente Calderón.
Oriol Romeu put in a fantastic individual display as part of Valencia’s superb team effort to win 3-2 away to Barcelona and become the first team to depart the Nou Camp this season with all three points. The La Masia graduate has turned his season around to become a dependable first-choice under new manager Juan Antonio Pizzi and was impressive in all areas on Saturday afternoon.
Marko Marin missed Sevilla’s 3-2 defeat at Málaga with another injury which threatens to sideline him for a couple of games at least.
In La Segunda, Uli Dávila has pledged to fight for his place at Córdoba after being relegated to the club’s third or fourth choice forward following the January transfer window. He played no part in their 1-1 draw at Alavés this weekend, though.
Jhon Pírez was an unused substitute as the Leganés train continued to roll; they smashed Barakaldo 3-0 to continue their assault on promotion from the third tier.
The £12m signing of centre-back Kurt Zouma has given reason for Ligue Une to be included in the Loan Report for the rest of the season, with Chelsea immediately loaning him back to Saint-Etienne as a part of the deal. The freakishly-sized 19 year-old played well in a relatively easy 3-0 win over Valenciennes on Saturday and played a part in the opening goal, helping to flick the ball on at the near post for a simple finish by Renaud Cohade at the far.
Thorgan Hazard played well in Zulte Waregem’s 1-1 draw with Lokeren, a match in which the hosts racked up chance after chance without taking them and deserved to win. Hazard drew a couple of good saves from goalkeeper Boubacar Barry and caused Lokeren considerable problems in the second half.
The playmaker is no longer the only Chelsea youngster on loan in Belgium, however, with two more joining him this past week. Lamisha Musonda has joined fellow top-flight club KV Mechelen until June but arrived too late in the week to take part for them this weekend, but Billy Clifford did make his Royal Antwerp debut on Friday night, getting 30 minutes in a 1-0 loss away to Lommel in the Second Division.
Having had a trial at Mechelen, Clifford then took in another week at Antwerp, a club which has long been a destination for British youngsters, in particular those associated with Manchester United. Now managed by former Chelsea forward Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, they still feature a healthy smattering of players with links to English shores (such as Yves Makabu Makalambay) and Clifford joins that group for the rest of the season.
Wallace doesn’t ever play for Inter, so whilst it came as something of a shock to see him stay with the Nerazzurri for the rest of the season, it was not remotely surprising to see him fail to feature in the Derby d’Italia against Juventus.
Gael Kakuta joined Lazio for the rest of the season on Friday night but arrived too late to be a part of the Biancocelesi’s squad for the trip to Chievo. He will hope to earn a shot at replacing the departing Hernanes in Edy Reja’s midfield, especially with Éderson – the man initially tabbed to feature instead – now sidelined with a long-term injury.
The Croatian league will once again feature in the Loan Report as Hajduk Split midfielder Mario Pašalić agreed a deal to join Chelsea this week. The Blues are yet to officially announce it but the other parties involved have all expressed very public sentiments about the agreement and we’ll be keeping an eye on the German-born teenager when the league schedule returns from the winter break next weekend.
Matej Delac and FK Sarajevo are also still on a winter break but whereas Croatia are just a week away from resuming play, Bosnia-Herzegovina doesn’t return until the end of February.
Finally, 17 year-old forward Joao Rodríguez, who joined Chelsea last summer from Deportes Quindío, has joined Liga Postobon club Uniautónoma until the summer in a bid to seek professional experience. The Barranquilla-based side are managed by Joao’s father Willy, but it may take the teenager some time to earn a place in the team.
He didn’t feature in this weekend’s 1-1 draw away to Junior, and will likely only ever appear in this Report should be receive top-flight minutes.