It was a weekend of free-kicks from the Eredivisie as club football returned from the latest international break. Marco van Ginkel and Lewis Baker each scored a dead-ball effort to kick off the latest edition of the Loan Report.
Van Ginkel has found his return to Dutch football far more favourable than his stay at Stoke, featuring regularly, earning Champions League recognition, and weighing in with the sort of goals that made him a standout at Vitesse. His fourth and fifth of his spell in Eindhoven came on Saturday night away to AZ Alkmaar; the first a typical finish sweeping up at the end of a swift move, the second a free-kick which he hasn’t always been renowned for.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, he’s spoken of a mutual desire between him and PSV to stay at the club next season. It does represent something of a backwards step in his career but, if a Chelsea future doesn’t appear especially likely, then it’s a decent option on his part as far as gaining exposure goes.
Baker’s immediate future might also be in the Eredivisie with Vitesse again making overtures to keep him, Dominic Solanke and Izzy Brown around for another season. It was Baker who caught the eye most against Todd Kane and NEC Nijmegen in the Gelderland derby, scoring a free kick of his own late on, but it was Kane and company who walked away with the bragging rights and a 2-1 win.
Baker, playing in an attacking midfield role, created a league season-high nine chances for his Arnhem team-mates but Solanke (90 minutes) et al couldn’t make good on them. Nathan started with Brown absent through an injury picked up on England Under-19 duty but he too hobbled off in the second half, having offered very little regardless. Danilo Pantic won’t play for the rest of the season, whilst Kane was good once again for NEC despite conceding the free kick from which Baker scored.
Nathan Aké has, by and large, enjoyed a promising breakthrough campaign at Watford, but he’s fared less well in matches against Arsenal. That continued on Saturday when he was given a tough afternoon against Alexis Sanchez; Watford lost 4-0 and Aké will want to move on from his individual performance. He was also this week linked with a move to Borussia Mönchengladbach this summer as a potential makeweight in any deal to bring Andreas Christensen back from a supposedly-agreed two-year loan.
Patrick Bamford and Victor Moses had quieter weekends as they were unused substitutes for Norwich City and West Ham United respectively.
Tomas Kalas played 90 minutes for Middlesbrough on Friday night as they went to QPR and won 3-2 to remain firmly in the hunt for promotion from the Championship. Reading beat Bolton 1-0 with an hour for Lucas Piazon but without the injured Michael Hector, who picked up a knock playing for Jamaica, and international injuries also did for Brentford’s John Swift after he was the victim of an appalling challenge playing for England Under-21s resulting in a cut to his achilles.
Jordan Houghton, who opened his goalscoring account for Plymouth during the international window, was named as Argyle’s best player in their local derby away to Exeter by manager Derek Adams. He did end up on the losing side but at least he’s catching the eye for the right reasons.
Speaking of Christensen, after wowing in his first two starts for Denmark, he had a nice and easy return to Bundesliga action with Gladbach hammering Hertha Berlin 5-0 to move within three points of their beaten opponents in the hunt for third place and automatic Champions League qualification.
Papy Djilobodji missed Bremen’s 3-2 reverse at Dortmund as he served the first of a three-game suspension for a throat-slitting gesture against Mainz last time out.
Betis’ trip to Atlético Madrid ended in a 5-1 defeat and represented the first time Charly Musonda hasn’t completed 90 minutes for the Seville club. He did play twice for Belgium’s Under-21s whilst many of his team-mates rested up during the internationals, and that might have played a part, but Atléti were also 3-0 up at the time of his removal so it made sense to rest him up for a more winnable cause next week at home to Levante.
Málaga drew 1-1 with Espanyol; Christian Atsu shrugged off a knock acquired playing for Ghana to play the last 22 minutes from the bench.
Juan Cuadrado was a 54th-minute substitute for Juventus against Empoli as the Bianconeri went six points clear of Napoli, who lost at Udinese on Sunday. Neither Stipe Perica nor Nathaniel Chalobah impacted that match, Perica getting five minutes as a sub and Chalobah remaining unused throughout.
Jeremie Boga got a few minutes late on in Rennes’ 3-1 win at home to Reims and showed one or two positive moments including yet another trademark solo run that almost resulted in a goal. Mario Pašalić, however, continues to rehab a recent back problem and has been at Cobham working with Chelsea’s medical staff to resolve the issue.
With the Belgian league having now split, Sint-Truiden kicked off their playoff campaign technically in contention for a Europa League qualification spot (despite finishing fourth from bottom, such is the Belgian Pro League…) but a 1-0 defeat at home to Mechelen wasn’t the most auspicious of starts. Cristian Cuevas played ninety minutes, Victorien Angban sat it out suspended, and Joao Rodriguez remains nowhere to be seen, presumably still injured.
Trabzonspor beat Gaziantepspor 1-0 on Friday night with 90 minutes for Marko Marin, whilst Kasimpasa host Besiktas on Monday hoping to have Kenneth Omeruo back from injury.
Alex Davey started in central midfield against for Stabaek in their trip to Bodo/Glimt on Sunday evening but was on the wrong side of a comprehensive defeat whilst playing an hour himself.
Ostersunds travel to Hammarby on Monday evening in their Allsvenskan season opener, a match that represents a chance for Jamal Blackman to make his debut.
Wallace didn’t play in Gremio’s midweek win over Passo Fundo but is in line to feature at home to Juventude later on Sunday evening after this report is published. If he, Blackman or Omeruo do anything of note, you’ll know about it by following @chelseayouth on Twitter.
Five months ago, Matej Delač ruptured his ACL playing in a friendly for Sarajevo. His surgery and rehab has gone superbly and this weekend he flew back from Cobham to rejoin his team-mates in Bosnia ahead of their finale to the season. As to whether he features or not isn’t clear but the fact he’s in contention to is testament to the hard work his and Chelsea’s medical staff have put in over the last few months.