There were no goals this week on the loan front but there have been a couple of key moves as the January transfer window gets underway, so we’ll dive straight in with a look at those.
The most notable, perhaps, is Patrick Bamford’s temporary departure to Norwich City. Having struggled to make an impact at Crystal Palace in the first half of the season, the 22 year-old forward has swapped red and blue for the yellow and green of the team that beat his Middlesbrough side at Wembley in last May’s Championship playoff final.
It’s a good opportunity for him to rescue a disappointing campaign; he’s been targeted by the club with only Dieumerci Mbokani and Cameron Jerome in attack at this stage, and at the very least he’ll likely be afforded more starts than he got under Alan Pardew at Selhurst Park.
That’ll be the first part of the battle won for him; once he gets into the team it’ll be over to him to prove he can handle Premier League football and contribute with goals, the same way he did at MK Dons, Derby and Boro. In each of those stops it took him a little while to find his feet at each level and at each step up and if history holds true, the lessons learned at Palace may end up paying off at Carrow Road.
Charly Musonda, meanwhile, has embarked upon his first move in senior football by joining Spanish Primera Liga strugglers Real Betis on an initial six-month loan that may be extended for the duration of the 2016-17 season if things go well. Musonda trained with his new team-mates for the first time today (Sunday) after last night’s defeat at Real Sociedad and he’ll be in line for a debut next weekend against Gary Neville’s Valencia.
He joins Ghanaian winger Christian Atsu in jetting off for some winter sun on the Spanish coast; he’s linked up with Málaga in hope of starting a league match for the first time since September 2014. He was an unused substitute at Eibar on Saturday having barely trained for his new club but, like Musonda, he’ll be in line for more next weekend.
FA Cup weekend in England opened the doors for some of Chelsea’s Premier League loanees to get a little bit more playing time than they have in recent league outings. Victor Moses started and played seventy minutes for West Ham in a goalless draw at Anfield whilst Marco van Ginkel played a full ninety for Stoke as they exited the competition 1-0 at Crystal Palace. Van Ginkel had featured earlier in the week for Stoke in their League Cup Semi Final at Liverpool, where despite converting his penalty, the Potters lost out in a shootout following a 1-1 aggregate draw.
Nathan Aké helped Watford into Round Five with a full match and a clean sheet in a 1-0 win at Nottingham Forest, whilst Michael Hector made his first appearance of 2016 for Reading as a very early substitute to replace the injured Aaron Tshibola in a routine 4-0 win at home to Walsall. Lucas Piazon, who this week saw spurious legal issues levelled at him in Canada completely dismissed, was an unused substitute.
There was no weekend Championship action due to the cup scheduling, meaning there was no Tomas Kalas, but John Swift did put in a solid 88 minutes for Brentford earlier in midweek as they drew 1-1 at home to Leeds. Alex Kiwomya was handed his first start as a Fleetwood Town player away to Bradford City – for whom his father Andy made more than 40 league appearances – and did well despite ending up on the losing side by a 2-1 scoreline.
Finally, in League Two, Mitchell Beeney and Newport County were edged out by a single goal at Leyton Orient on Tuesday night but they all bounced back well on Saturday to win 2-1 at Morecambe.
There was a double helping of Eredivisie action this week but for Vitesse Arnhem there were two frustrating draws as life under new manager Rob Maas is proving rather inconsistent. Stalemates at home to PEC Zwolle (1-1) and Excelsior (0-0) were punctuated by a lack of excitement, attacking cutting edge, and direction, and the four points dropped – alongside the three at Ajax last weekend – have seen them lose ground in the race for Champions League football.
Dominic Solanke and Izzy Brown started both matches with Brown looking the brighter player in both outings and Solanke rather subdued. His involvement against Excelsior was curtailed after an hour as he limped off following an awful tackle from behind, but there was a small silver lining as he was replaced by Nathan, who made his full comeback from injury to play for the first time since November 9th.
Lewis Baker got ten minutes against Zwolle with none against Excelsior whilst Danilo Pantic featured in neither and is on the verge of securing a half-season spell at Portuguese club Belenenses, where he should find a path into the first team somewhat easier to come by. Benfica are also said to be interested.
Todd Kane was his typically effective self in NEC Nijmegen’s 2-0 win at home to FC Twente on Wednesday but a yellow card picked up along the way meant he was suspended for Saturday’s game against AZ Alkmaar. Without him, NEC lost 3-0.
It was a quiet weekend in Italy with Juan Cuadrado, Nathaniel Chalobah and Stipe Perica all unused substitutes in league action. Cuadrado did at least play ninety minutes as Juventus brushed Lazio aside 3-0 in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday.
It was a weekend to forget for both Mario Pašalić and Jeremie Boga; the Croatian played the last quarter of an hour from the bench in Monaco’s 3-0 reverse away to Angers and Boga got twenty as Rennes were thumped 4-0 at Bordeaux. Both will want to swiftly move on and look forward to the next round of fixtures.
Borussia Mönchengladbach have struggled in their return to Bundesliga action after the winter break – they also toiled with the same run of fixtures to start the season – and went down 1-0 at Mainz on Friday night. Andreas Christensen, a fixture in defence, played a decent ninety minutes but they’ll want to arrest their slide sooner than they did back in the summer.
Papy Djilobodji looked competent once again for Werder Bremen in an eventual 3-3 draw against Hertha Berlin, for whom former blue Salomon Kalou scored, becoming the first player to register double-figure goalscoring seasons in the top divisions of the English, French and German leagues.
Back in September, Ivorian midfielder Victorien Angban was sent off as Sint-Truiden lost to Anderlecht. The same thing happened this weekend as the two sides met again at Stayen, meaning another three-game absence for a youngster who has caught the eye often this season and was this week linked with Standard Liege.
Cristian Cuevas played all bar two minutes of the 2-1 defeat whilst Joao Rodriguez is still out injured. Cristian Manea didn’t play for Mouscron either, making his fleeting appearances earlier this month even more of a (collective) collector’s item.
It was also cup weekend in Turkey, so Kenneth Omeruo had nothing to do with Kasimpasa having been knocked out. Marko Marin and Trabzonspor remain in but play on Monday night and, as usual, if he does anything of note you can read about it on Twitter @chelseayouth.
Grêmio’s 2016 season got underway this week with a pair of fixtures and a start for new signing Wallace in their Campeonato Gaucho trip to Brasil-Pelotas. He played the full 3-1 win.