With the 2013-14 season now pretty much over, it’s time to take a look back over a record-breaking campaign on the loan front. Today, we look at the Chelsea’s prospects in Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia and Colombia.
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Matej Delac,FK Vojdovina/FK Sarajevo,25,0,0
Mario Pašalić,Hajduk Split,16,5,4
Delac’s nomadic career took in two new destinations over the last nine months as he stopped in Serbia for the first half of the campaign with FK Vojvodina before upping sticks at the start of their lengthy winter break and shifting to Bosnia for final five months at FK Sarajevo. He finally saw something approaching regular football at both clubs but curiously lost his starting place towards the end of each deal despite performing more than well enough to retain it.
Pašalić was one of the surprises of the loan season in more ways than one. He agreed to join Chelsea on transfer deadline day in January but the deal was never formally announced and he remained with Hajduk Split until ‘officially’ siging for the Blues in the summer. They might have been trying to keep the deal under wraps but the Croatian midfielder put pay to that with a series of swashbuckling performances en route to earning consideration for a place in his national team’s World Cup squad.
With eleven goals and nine assists over the course of the season and five strikes since becoming a Blue, his inexorable rise duly led to considerably more attention on him than was first envisaged and Michael Emenalo was forced to reveal the agreement held between the relevant parties.
Rodriguez, an 18 year-old Colombian forward, joined Uniautónoma in his domestic top flight in January. The arrangement meant he would be playing for his father Willy and he even managed to score on his full debut against Medellin. He had a good run in the squad before his old man was sacked, at which point he no longer featured in the first team picture.
Delac’s Chelsea contract reportedly still has a year to run but in a career that has seen him fail to establish himself anywhere but (South)Eastern Europe, it would be a considerable surprise if he were not to depart on a permanent basis this summer. FK Sarajevo have the option to make the loan into a full-time stay but having lost his place over the past few weeks, Matej may have to look elsewhere.
Pašalić was initially expected to be loaned to an Eredivisie team next season with Vitesse an obvious and convenient location for him to take the next step in his career, although Chelsea’s arrangement with NAC Breda saw Stipe Perica stationed there this past season due to their coaching staff being of Serbian and Croatian backgrounds and they too could be an option. However, his exceptional second half of the season has resulted in teams from Germany and Italy courting his services and if he manages to shine at the World Cup, he may find himself on a bigger stage than anyone initially conceived.
Rodriguez told Colombian media in April that he expected to join Vitesse for the 2014-15 season and that move should happen. It remains to be seen whether he would be counted on to be a key contributor or if he follows the footsteps of Uli Dávila and Cristian Cuevas in using the move as an adaptation to Europe, but having spent some time in England already, he may have a head-start on that front and could be of genuine use in Arnhem.