As we march ever closer to the finish line of the 2014-15 season, a number of Chelsea’s young loanees made their final appearances for their loan clubs this weekend, with at least one having cause for celebration. We start, however, with a goalscoring midfielder.
Mario Pašalić has slowly, and slightly under the radar, become a dependable player for Elche this season in their battle to avoid relegation from La Liga. It took a while for him to adapt to the vast step up in quality from the Croatian top flight to one of the best leagues in the world, but he’s proven capable of handling it. In the past few weeks he’s started to add goals to his game again – one of the chief reasons he caught Chelsea’s eye whilst at Hajduk Split – and after breaking his duck against Córdoba, he netted again this last midweek against Deportivo:
He put in a proper shift on Sunday too as they claimed a huge scalp away to Málaga, winning 2-1 despite having their goalkeeper sent off in the second half. He showed discipline and an immense work rate throughout, earning his reward a minute from time, racing upfield with great stamina to collect Jonathas’ pass and finish very, very confidently.
Back in England, meanwhile, Lewis Baker celebrated the end of his stay with Milton Keynes Dons by helping secure promotion to the Championship. With three goals and a host of impressive performances during his stay there, he’s been a fine addition to a squad which has motored towards the top of the league, and an emphatic last-day win over Yeovil combined with Preston’s defeat to Colchester means they finally move into England’s second tier.
He was actually an unused substitute but still a very useful part of the overall group achievement, and it would not be a big surprise whatsoever to see him return there next season in a bid to take his game to the next level by testing himself in the Championship.
Victor Moses is out for the season and Christian Atsu is out of favour at Stoke, so it just leaves us to round up the last action of the Blues’ Football League loanees this term.
Nathaniel Chalobah played in Reading’s defeat to Rotherham and win over Derby this week, still carrying a painful ankle problem which will need some rest before England’s European Under-21 Championships in June.
Patrick Bamford was rested by Middlesbrough with nothing riding on their final league fixture against Brighton; he too is suffering from an ankle complaint but it would be a huge shock were he not to feature against Brentford on Friday night in the first leg of their Playoff Semi Final. Kenneth Omeruo was an unused substitute.
Todd Kane did play for Nottingham Forest against Cardiff though, but didn’t enjoy the best send-off as his side went down 2-1.
John Swift is also playoff-bound in League One with Swindon; he returned to their starting line-up this Sunday, playing 90 minutes in a 2-2 draw with Leyton Orient.
Gael Kakuta completed a full match against Valencia on Thursday before his ever-present La Liga run finally ended on Sunday as he was absent from the 1-1 draw at Espanyol, with manager Paco Jemez deciding he needed to be rested.
A double helping of Serie A matches this week ensured starts for all three of Chelsea’s loanees in Italy, led by Marco van Ginkel. Milan’s season has been something of a catastrophe but the Dutch midfielder has muscled his way into the team since the start of March, and started both matches against Genoa and Napoli as Milan lost on each occasion.
Mohamed Salah played 81 and 63 minutes respectively in Fiorentina’s matches against Juventus and Cesena, whilst Stipe Perica got an hour as a starter for Udinese at Verona on Sunday after a late cameo from the bench at home to Inter on Tuesday.
This weekend saw the KNVB Cup Final, meaning Vitesse and everyone else in the Eredivisie had the weekend off.
Oriol Romeu was an 88th minute substitute for Stuttgart at Schalke on Saturday, thrown on to try to shore up the defence and hold onto a 2-2 draw for a point that would help their desperate fight against relegation. Schalke scored a minute later, and Stuttgart remain bottom and three points from safety with three games to play.
Lucas Piazon was not included in Eintracht Frankfurt’s matchday squad.
Uli Dávila was a late sub in Vitória Setúbal’s 2-0 defeat to Porto. Joao Rodriguez was not involved.
Marko Marin, injured, etc.
Matej Delač was beaten twice but ended up on the winning side as FK Sarajevo beat Slavija Sarajevo 3-2 to remain a point clear of Zeljeznicar at the top of the Bosnian Premijer Liga.