The Loan Report: Season in Review – England

We’ve reached (pretty much) the end of the 2014-15 club season, which means it’s time to look back over the campaign as far as things went on the loan front at Chelsea Football Club.

In this review, we look at events as they unfolded in England.


[table class=”table table-striped”]
Nathan Aké,Reading,5,0
Christian Atsu,Everton,13,0
Lewis Baker,Sheffield Wednesday,4,0
Lewis Baker,MK Dons,12,3
Patrick Bamford,Middlesbrough,44,19
Ryan Bertrand*,Southampton,27,2
Jamal Blackman,Middlesbrough,1,0
Nathaniel Chalobah,Burnley,4,0
Nathaniel Chalobah,Reading,20,1
Alex Davey,Scunthorpe United,17,1
Islam Feruz,Blackpool,2,0
Tomas Kalas,Middlesbrough,17,0
Todd Kane,Bristol City,7,0
Todd Kane,Nottingham Forest,8,1
Alex Kiwomya,Barnsley,5,0
Victor Moses,Stoke City,23,4
Kenneth Omeruo,Middlesbrough,20,0
John Swift,Rotherham United,4,0
John Swift,Swindon Town,19,2

What Happened?

It was a prolific and largely successful campaign on the domestic loan front with the majority of moves at least leaning towards the positive, and one or two players in particular did their future prospects no harm whatsoever. Unfortunately for Chelsea, the highest profile of those was Ryan Bertrand who, upon proving himself an exceptionally capable Premier League starter for a good calibre club in Southampton, was sold for a cool (potential) £10m at the end of the January transfer window. Increasingly present in the England international picture, Chelsea could and perhaps should have done more to assimilate him into the first team picture at Stamford Bridge rather than effectively replace him with the older Filipe Luis, but Bertrand himself will have wanted stability in his career as he approaches 25 and seems very happy with his new permanent home.

The rest of the top flight was a bit of a mixed bag however. Victor Moses caught the eye early and often at Stoke, scoring four goals in a season that was ultimately too often hamstrung by injuries. He did well enough for Mark Hughes to have declared interest in bringing him back to the Britannia Stadium next season, although he seems to be keener on yet another loan:

“[Loans] are options you can pursue, because you can get good players in and not be commit huge chunks of money. We’ve done okay ourselves with loans over the last couple of years.”

Christian Atsu didn’t get much of a look-in at Everton as injuries and international breaks/absences meant manager Roberto Martinez was unable to get a good view of him outside of the Europa League, but he appears set to get another crack at the league next term with newly-promoted Bournemouth making considerable overtures to claim his signature as early as possible. It’s a curious move as the Ghanaian projects as a similar player to Matt Ritchie, one of the Cherries’ key performers, and he could really do without wasting another half a season or more on a failed move.

Optimism and confidence quickly gave way to frustration at Turf Moor last Autumn when Nathaniel Chalobah’s switch to Burnley ultimately became an exercise in futility. The England Under-21 midfielder was rarely afforded playing time in one of the least-rotated squads in the league, eventually departing in January. Burnley would later lose a key midfielder for the rest of the season and find themselves relegated; whether Chalobah could have improved their fortunes will never be clear but they could have at least tried to find out.

He swapped claret and blue for the white and blue hoops of Reading in a return to the Championship. Playing with an injury for much of his time at the Madejski Stadium, he began to look something like his usual self but in a season riddled with problems and disappointments, the happy and promising player we saw at Watford two years ago seems a lifetime away and a very important summer lies ahead for him.

Nathan Aké joined him in Berkshire for a month during April and immediately caught the eye, winning two man of the match awards in his five appearances for impressive outings at left back and in midfield. It was a long-overdue venture away from Stamford Bridge for the Dutch utility player after opting to stay and fight for his place/learn from the senior pros up to that point, and it sets him up nicely for a longer stay at that standard in ’15-16.

Middlesbrough was the focus of most Chelsea attention this past season as Aitor Karanka’s relationship with Jose Mourinho was extended even further by the loaning of Jamal Blackman, Kenneth Omeruo, Patrick Bamford and Tomas Kalas to the promotion-chasing Teessiders.

Blackman played just once in a remarkable League Cup tie at Liverpool in which he both scored and saved a penalty in a shootout defeat, and whilst Kalas flourished in a three-month stay after kicking his heels at Köln in Germany up until Christmas, it was a more problematic time for Omeruo. The Nigerian earned largely positive reviews at the Riverside Stadium last season and was very happy to return for a second spell but after a few shaky performances early in the season, he lost his place in the back four and, after an argument with Karanka in February, played just thirty minutes more in the season thereafter.

Bamford, though, stole all the headlines. A brief but productive stay at Derby last season hinted that he was ready to take on the challenge of a full Championship campaign and after a slow start, he found his stride in the hectic middle months around Christmas and fired Boro towards the top of the table. In February and March he was integral to their promotion push, scoring big goal after big goal en route to a final tally of nineteen and being named Championship Player of the Season.

Everything finished in tears at Wembley last Monday though as they fell at the final hurdle with Norwich going up instead, and Bamford for sure seems set for the top flight one way or another next season. Omeruo needs a fresh challenge after things rather fell apart for him in the North East, but Kalas clearly enjoyed his move, sticking around for the final weeks after his loan ended to lend his support and there is already talk of him going back for the full season next term.

Islam Feruz’s distinctly unusual season began in Samara, Russia, where he bailed out of a potential move to second division club Krylia Sovetov and instead took his talents to OFI Crete, where he worked under manager Gennaro Gattuso. Just three appearances in four months saw him quickly return to England, whereupon he headed into the toxic atmosphere of Blackpool. Two appearances and a host of unimpressive training sessions under Lee Clark saw the Tangerines send him back early.

“It’s not about your background, it’s the way you perform in training and off the field which gives you a place in the team.”

England Under-20 duo John Swift and Lewis Baker both had brief and fairly disappointing spells in Yorkshire with Rotherham and Sheffield Wednesday respectively, and in truth neither were given a full and fair shot to show what they could do. They did get that in League One though, with Swift coming through a few tricky spells at Swindon to play well more often than not, whilst Baker timed his arrival at Milton Keynes Dons perfectly, chipping in with three goals (two typically spectacular) to help Karl Robinson’s side over the line and secure promotion. Robinson was pleased to say the least to have been given the option of having him:

“I didn’t make the phone call – they called us. He’s one of the best young midfielders in the country and the shock when the name got mentioned to me, it took me a few seconds to say yes. He’s probably one of our best ones in a long time and the hype surround him is phenomenal.”

Todd Kane did things the other way around, overcoming an injury at the start of the season to join Bristol City just before Christmas. There, he was used in a wholly unfamiliar defensive midfield role with manager Steve Cotterill citing his excellent footballing education at Chelsea as reason for him being able to feature there. He looked rather set to become a part of their title push but upped sticks and went to Nottingham Forest in January after they used £250,000 won by a fan in a SkyBet competition to fund the move. He didn’t get as much playing time as he would have liked, playing in his more familiar full-back roles on either side, and at the age of nearly 22 may be another considering his next step in professional football.

That just leaves Alex Kiwomya, who spent a month or so at Barnsley learning what senior football is all about before manager Danny Wilson was sacked, and Alex Davey, who came on leaps and bounds at Scunthorpe United. He added right-back to his bow having only really been seen at centre-back prior to that and certainly did enough to put himself in a strong position for his next move going into next season.