The season is winding down towards its conclusion but there remains a few prevailing interests on the Chelsea loanee front. We kick off this weekend, as we have done quite often this season, with Bertrand Traore.
To say Vitesse’s fortunes have improved somewhat since manager Peter Bosz opted to move the Burkina Faso international into a centre forward role back in November would be understating things somewhat. His prolific form in front of goal helped them rocket up the table to an eventual fifth place finish and a place in the post-season Europa League Playoffs, which began this week as they took on PEC Zwolle.
A 2-1 first leg victory helped their cause returning to the Gelredome this weekend and it was Traore’s 17th goal of the season that helped secure their berth in the ‘final’, emerging 3-2 aggregate winners to line up a two-legged affair with Heerenveen this coming week for the right to enter UEFA competition next season. It was another fine strike from the teenager too, collecting Rochdi Achenteh’s searching pass before dancing inside onto his weaker right foot and whipping a low shot past goalkeeper Warner Hahn.
Bosz spoke about his trio of Chelsea loanees after the second leg, for each had played their respective parts. Josh McEachran started both matches and played a controlled, mature game in midfield, whilst Wallace was used as an attacking right winger from the bench, claiming an assist in the first leg and putting in three or four tremendous crosses in the second; one giving Traore an open goal he somehow contrived to miss.
Bosz indicated that he doesn’t expect Traore to be with Vitesse next season, noting “he’ll absolutely become top class, which he isn’t yet; he’s a very complete player and only 19.” He also expressed doubts surrounding rumours that Chelsea may be willing to sell him, saying “they won’t sell him, not even for €20m. That would be a mistake.”
On McEachran, he revealed that the former England Under-21 international had been preferred to Marko Vejinovic in recent weeks with ‘the future of the team’ in mind. That might suggest that he could be set to return to Arnhem for a second season in 2015-16 (or even beyond that) and he’s certainly played his way into the side on merit. Wallace, however, has indicated a preference to join Benfica on loan next season, and believes Portuguese football to be the best home for his development at this point in his career.
It’s been a fantastic season for Middlesbrough and Patrick Bamford in particular, along with three other Chelsea youngsters sent temporarily to Aitor Karanka’s club (Kenneth Omeruo, Tomas Kalas and Jamal Blackman). Unfortunately, it ended in heartbreak as a 2-0 defeat to Norwich at Wembley in the Championship Playoff Final consigned them to another year in England’s second tier.
In what will probably be his final appearance for the club – with Premier League football surely the next step in his career – Bamford was well shackled by Norwich’s defence all afternoon but also looked to still be feeling the effects of a nasty ankle injury suffered at Carrow Road in the league a month ago. Omeruo wasn’t selected in the squad as usual but he and Kalas were on hand to support their team-mates nonetheless.
It was a similar tale of frustration for John Swift and Swindon in League One’s finale 24 hours earlier. He, like Omeruo, wasn’t involved in the affair but a 4-0 defeat to Preston meant they fell at the final hurdle.
Marco van Ginkel’s good form continued for Milan on Sunday as he played superbly in a 3-0 win over Torino, claiming an assist and leading manager Pippo Inzaghi to put feelers out with the idea of bringing him back to the club again next season.
Stipe Perica’s goal for Udinese last time out earned him another start, this time at home to Sassuolo, but a quiet first half saw him withdrawn at the break. Mohamed Salah lasted even less time away to Parma, taking an early leave after half an hour with an injury.
He wasn’t involved beyond being an unused substitute, but all’s well that ends well for Oriol Romeu and Stuttgart as a last-day win at Paderborn saw them complete their great escape from relegation. His appearances became more fleeting as the season went on and their fortunes improved, and he’ll likely find a new permanent home this summer.
Lucas Piazon wasn’t involved for Eintracht Frankfurt at home to Leverkusen.
La Liga is over for another season but it was a quiet curtain-dropper for two Blues youngsters who have impressed over the last ten months. Gael Kakuta was rested again by Rayo Vallecano after putting together a run of 35 consecutive starts and five goals overall, whilst Mario Pašalić – so integral to Elche’s escape from relegation – played out a scoreless ninety minutes at Levante.
There was no Uli Dávila as Vitória Setúbal’s season came to an end with a 5-0 thrashing at the hands of Braga.
Matej Delač is the solitary Chelsea loanee in with a chance of finishing the season as a domestic champion, and he’s playing a key role in helping FK Sarajevo’s cause. A ninth clean sheet in twelve games meant a 3-0 win away to NK Vitez on Saturday and keeps them a point clear of Željezničar with one round to play. Their destiny is in their hands and victory over FK Sloboda this coming weekend will crown them Bosnian champions for the first time since 2007.