February’s saying goodbye, March is upon us, and the footballing winter is about to move into early Spring. That means the business end of the 2020-21 campaign is about to begin in earnest, and a host of Chelsea loanees are coming into form just at the right time to give themselves a very interesting summer.
Armando Broja: Europe’s best teenage goalscorer
Yes, it’s true. 19 year-old Armando Broja has more top-flight goals than any teenager playing in Europe’s ten top-ranked domestic leagues. His 9 strikes for Vitesse this season have come in 1,141 Eredivisie minutes, good for 0.71 goals per game. He has two assists too, including one against VVV Venlo this weekend in an impressive 4-1 victory. He also struck away to PSV Eindhoven the weekend before as he continues to refine his craft, learn the ropes of the senior game, and position himself for the next step in his career.
Tomori settles in Milan
After a whirlwind end to the January transfer window, Fikayo Tomori was thrown in at the deep end on debut for Milan as a first-half injury substitute in a Coppa Italia derby against Inter and Romelu Lukaku. Inter prevailed in an ill-tempered match but Tomori proved himself capable of handling that level of play, and has since settled into a rotational role with three Serie A starts and a pair of Europa League outings. Milan face Manchester United next in that competition, so he’ll be back in England on the big stage again before very long.
Nathan Baxter: 150 senior appearances
It’s rare for a 22 year-old to reach 150 senior club appearances these days, and even rarer for goalkeepers. It’s not quite the same comparison for a host of reasons but Baxter’s fellow loan army goalkeeper Jamal Blackman is 27 and is yet to hit that milestone. Nathan, on the other hand, has worked his way through the ranks from the Met Police to Solihull Moors to Woking to Yeovil to Ross County and now to Accrington Stanley and is ticking all the boxes along the way.
He has 7 clean sheets in 18 appearances for promotion-chasing Stanley this term and, in the face of stiff competition from their own talented home-grown stopper Toby Savin, has made the starting job his for the foreseeable future. His career progression so far tracks very favourably compared to England’s three senior goalkeepers Jordan Pickford, Nick Pope and Dean Henderson, and he’ll be aiming to play Championship football or an equivalent standard in 2021-22.
Jamie Cumming hasn’t followed the same journey so far but, in his first season in loan football, he’s now passed 3000 minutes played for Stevenage, and has kept 11 clean sheets in 33 matches. He’s another young goalkeeper making all the right noises.
Loftus-Cheek finding form and fitness
After Sunday’s goalless draw against his former club Crystal Palace, Ruben Loftus-Cheek ticked past 1600 minutes played this season. It’s the third-most he’s ever accumulated in a single campaign, behind the 1965 he got while at Palace and the 1956 he played under Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea, leaving him just four games away from surpassing a threshold he’s never before reached.
That’s extremely promising for a loan move designed to get him playing regular football after more than a year on the sidelines through a damaged achilles tendon, and many months thereafter struggling to reach match fitness. Now 25, he still has a Chelsea contract until 2024, and having proven his capacity to play a near-full Premier League campaign, there will be plenty of big decisions for both club and player this summer.
Kenedy takes his chances
Kenedy has flattered to deceive for much of his professional career but, credit where it’s due, he’s been in good form over the past month for Granada, scoring three goals in three different competitions against Barcelona (Copa del Rey), Levante (La Liga) and Napoli (Europa League), taking his tally to seven for the season, along with a small handful of assists.
The problem, as ever, is that his goals come from a generally low xG rating overall, and his contribution to Granada’s all-round play is rather limited. He projects as a high-intensity wing-back who excels at closing down opponents and carrying an attacking threat with a dangerous shot, but he is also 25 and is more likely to find another Spanish club he can help in that way than come back to England and realistically challenge for a place at Chelsea or elsewhere. His contract is up in 2022, although it has previously been surreptitiously extended, so another loan could be just as likely depending on market forces.
– Tiémoué Bakayoko continues to do a fine job in a defensive midfield role for Napoli, leading several Chelsea fans to wonder about the potential for reintegration this summer under another new manager who has so far displayed a predilection for exploring all of his options. Statsbomb’s in-depth piece on actions under pressure showed the French international in a positive light, but doubts linger about his capacity to adapt to the pace of the English game (when fans return and Pandemic-ball is fading) after struggling in his first season in the Premier League.
ICYMI: A look at what @StatsBomb’s pressure data can tell you about a player’s actions under pressure. Can they retain possession when being pressed? Can they receive under pressure? Can they bypass it?https://t.co/DIxR3xVLFF
— Oli Walker (@olivermpw_) February 19, 2021
– Conor Gallagher and Marc Guehi are the two home-grown prospects considered to have the best chance of breaking into Thomas Tuchel’s first-team squad next season, and they have both continued to play well in the past month. Gallagher is one of the first names on Sam Allardyce’s West Brom team sheet in their renewed battle to avoid relegation and is a high-end ball-winner on the stats front, while Guehi defends superbly and drives progressive play from defence for promotion-chasing Swansea City. There’s a prevailing sense that both might be one more loan move away from being able to truly force their way in at Stamford Bridge but there will be no shortage of top-flight takers were that to be the case this summer.
– Luke McCormick won the League One Goal of the Month award for his free kick for Bristol Rovers against Crewe Alexandra. How much the Chelsea twitter vote helped his cause is unknown at this time…
👏 “I’m delighted to receive this award and I would like to thank all the Rovers fans who voted for me."#BristolRovers
— Bristol Rovers (@Official_BRFC) February 26, 2021
– Baba Rahman and Iké Ugbo have also been in goalscoring form this month; check out their efforts below:
Started: August 22nd
Finished: May 31st
|Player||Club||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe/Cont||Other||Mins|
|Ethan Ampadu||Sheffield United||24 (2)||0||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||2450||27 (2)||0|
|Tiemoue Bakayoko||Napoli||23 (8)||2||2 (2)||0||0||0||5 (2)||0||1||0||2480||31 (10)||2|
|Lewis Baker||Trabzonspor||29 (5)||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0 (1)||0||2733||30 (6)||2|
|Ross Barkley||Aston Villa||19 (6)||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1613||19 (6)||3|
|Michy Batshuayi||Crystal Palace||7 (11)||2||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||897||9 (11)||2|
|Armando Broja||Vitesse Arnhem||21 (9)||10||3 (1)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||2186||24 (10)||11|
|Charlie Brown||Union SG||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Isaiah Brown||Sheffield Wednesday||4 (15)||0||0 (1)||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||647||5 (16)||0|
|Juan Castillo||AZ Alkmaar||0 (1)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||6||0||457||6 (1)||0|
|Juan Castillo||ADO Den Haag||9 (7)||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||878||10 (7)||0|
|Trevoh Chalobah||Lorient||24 (5)||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2301||25 (5)||2|
|Jake Clarke-Salter||Birmingham City||9 (1)||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||881||10 (1)||0|
|Danny Drinkwater||Kasimpasa||6 (5)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||519||6 (5)||0|
|Conor Gallagher||West Bromwich Albion||28 (2)||2||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||2683||30 (2)||2|
|Marco van Ginkel||PSV||3 (8)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||351||3 (8)||1|
|Marc Guehi||Swansea City||43||0||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3950||45||0|
|Kenedy||Granada||18 (10)||4||3 (1)||2||0||0||11 (1)||2||0||0||2516||34 (12)||8|
|Ruben Loftus-Cheek||Fulham||21 (9)||1||1 (1)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2032||22 (10)||1|
|Ian Maatsen||Charlton Athletic||31 (3)||1||0 (1)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2896||31 (4)||1|
|Luke McCormick||Bristol Rovers||36 (3)||6||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||3318||39 (3)||6|
|George McEachran||MVV Maastricht||1 (2)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||100||1 (2)||0|
|Victor Moses||Spartak Moscow||18 (1)||4||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1604||19 (1)||4|
|Danilo Pantic||Cukaricki||17 (10)||1||0 (1)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1588||17 (11)||1|
|Lucas Piazon||Rio Ave||6 (2)||2||0 (1)||0||0||0||3||0||0||0||789||9 (3)||2|
|Baba Rahman||PAOK||11 (2)||1||4||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1383||14 (2)||1|
|Jonathan Russell||Accrington Stanley||12 (13)||2||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1330||13 (13)||2|
|Malang Sarr||FC Porto||5 (3)||0||4||0||1||1||4 (2)||0||0||0||1401||14 (5)||1|
|Fikayo Tomori||Milan||16 (1)||1||0 (1)||0||0||0||4||0||0||0||1896||20 (2)||1|
|Iké Ugbo||Cercle Brugge||32||16||0 (2)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||2753||32 (2)||17|
|Tariq Uwakwe||Accrington Stanley||12 (3)||1||0 (1)||0||0||0||0||0||4 (1)||3||1206||16 (5)||4|
|Davide Zappacosta||Genoa||23 (2)||4||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2048||23 (2)||4|
|Player||Club||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other||Mins|
|Apps||Cln Sht||Apps||Cln Sht||Apps||Cln Sht||Apps||Cln Sht||Apps||Cln Sht||Apps||Cln Sht|
|Nathan Baxter||Accrington Stanley||16||6||1||0||0||0||0||0||2||1||1657||19||7|
|Jamal Blackman||Rotherham United||25 (1)||5||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||2543||30 (1)||5|
|Teddy Sharman-Lowe||Burton Albion||0||0||0||0||1||0||0||0||2||0||270||3||0|