The final Loan Report of the season takes a wider look at the Class of 2020-21 and what might come next for each of them.
Youngsters Trending Upwards
A bunch of talented youngsters did their cases the world of good this season and primed themselves to take further steps forward in 2020-21. Conor Gallagher was a regular in West Brom’s midfield for almost the entire campaign and, despite the Baggies’ eventual relegation, he produced enough good performances to have established himself as one of the top flight’s better young midfielders and positioned himself to play for a top-half team next season. He reportedly harbours ambitions to break into the Chelsea first team squad, and a European Championship-affected pre-season will help his case.
Ethan Ampadu experienced a fairly similar season at Sheffield United, making just three fewer appearances while also suffering relegation. He’s going to the Euros with Wales, so his pre-season will look somewhat different, but he does have that stage on which to showcase his midfield prowess after a year spent mostly in the Blades’ three-man defence. He has top-end pedigree and is still only 20, with plenty of football ahead of him.
Marc Guehi didn’t see through Swansea’s promotion challenge, instead falling at the final hurdle to Brentford in the Championship playoff final, but he’ll be playing at a higher-level next season one way or another. The outstanding defender in the league and one of the best Under-21s in the country, Chelsea triggered an extension to his contract (now ending in 2023) in April, and he will now look to find an appropriate challenge for 21-22. A Europa-league level team would be ideal if he’s to give himself the best shot of playing at Stamford Bridge off the back of his next move, although some would argue he’s capable of making that step right now.
Armando Broja and Iké Ugbo scored 28 goals for Vitesse and Cercle Brugge this season and used their time in the low countries to showcase their prowess in front of goal. Broja is set to sign a new contract in the weeks to come and then perhaps forge an agreement with a Championship team for the new term, while Ugbo’s renaissance first at Roda and now in Bruges means his struggles at EFL teams earlier in his career have long since been forgotten. Europa League-level clubs across Europe are competing for his permanent signature, as are newly-promoted Watford in England.
Trevoh Chalobah’s foray into Ligue 1 saw him play superbly both in midfield and defence for an underdog Lorient team that defied the odds in their first season after promotion and avoided relegation, with Chalobah himself scoring the goal that clinched the saving point away to Strasbourg. After taking in time at Ipswich and Huddersfield, he has really progressed during his time in France, and is developing into a really fine player who, turning 22 his summer, will have some big decisions to make.
Jamie Cumming’s first season of professional football saw him make 47 starts and play more than 4200 minutes in goal for Stevenage, keeping 18 clean sheets and helping steer them well clear of relegation. It was an outstanding campaign for the young stopper, who will now follow in Nathan Baxter’s footsteps in climbing the EFL ladder to play at higher levels. Baxter himself was well on his way to proving himself one of League One’s best stoppers at Accrington before a shoulder injury ended his season; he could end up in the Championship next term if all goes well.
Ian Maatsen also shone in League One with Charlton, who fell just short of reaching the playoffs, but the young left-back showcases his full range of attributes and versatility in playing in midfield and further forward as a right winger during his time at The Valley. He’ll feel he did enough to get a Championship (or equivalent) move next time around.
Fikayo Tomori’s loan at Milan went as well as expected for anyone who knew just how good of a defender he was but, with that success comes disappointment, as in helping the Rossoneri back into the Champions League for the first time since 2014, he improved their chances of triggering their option to buy him. A €28m deal is reportedly close to being done and Chelsea will lose a talented young player who at one stage looked like being a mainstay of their rear-guard for years to come.
Victor Moses will join Spartak Moscow on a permanent deal after scoring the goal that ensured their own Champions League berth, and in doing so triggering the obligation to buy him in his loan agreement. Chelsea will get in the region of €5m for the Nigeria international who so famously helped the Blues to a Premier League title under Antonio Conte as a wing-back.
Tiémoué Bakayoko and Davide Zappacosta had solid seasons back in Serie A and will be allowed to explore permanent deals, although the transfer market may well force another temporary agreement, while Matt Miazga has already spoken of a desire to settle down after adding Anderlecht to his list of loan homes following Nantes, Reading and Vitesse. Lewis Baker had a fine season for Trabzonspor in Turkey, claiming silverware along the way, but he and fellow Super Lig midfielder Danny Drinkwater may also be heading towards the exit door.
Michy Batshuayi’s return to Crystal Palace did not go well, and Chelsea are in something of a quandary with him. He has a year left on his deal and is unlikely to sign a new one, meaning Chelsea will need to sell him below market value this summer. They should be able to get a deal that covers the remaining book value on his deal, but short of an unlikely (yet not impossible) extension to loan, the club might have to write this off as an experience to learn from.
Marco van Ginkel will not renew his Chelsea deal and will leave at the end of June having successfully returned from a two-and-a-half-year injury absence, scoring for PSV on the final day of the season to celebrate his comeback. Jamal Blackman, Izzy Brown and Luke McCormick are all also out of contract after EFL loans, with McCormick in particular impressive for Bristol Rovers and likely to have plenty of options to choose from as his career progresses. Danilo Pantic will join them after a low-key year at Cukaricki that came off the back of a disappointing sojourn to MOL Vidi. Having been named in the Serbian League’s best eleven in 2018-19 after impressing for Partizan, he chose not to sign for them permanently, and his career has rather meandered since.
Finally, Baba Rahman had a bit of a redemption arc with PAOK in 2021 after a few injury-riddled years, and helped them win the Greek Cup last weekend. Chelsea extended his deal before his move but, if all parties are happy, this seems like a deal that should be made permanent fairly easily.
We Go Again
Ross Barkley started very well at Aston Villa before fading as the season went on, particularly after an injury absence in the middle of the campaign. A route (back) in to Thomas Tuchel’s squad seems tough and, with a contract to 2023, Chelsea might find that the market is more favourable to another loan to recapture his value before attempting to either reintegrate or sell him next summer.
Kenedy is always a bit of an unknown because there’s ongoing uncertainty about exactly how long he has left on his contract. He’s had at least one silent extension during the last two years, possibly more, and so his pretty impressive year at Europa League Quarter Finalists Granada might well set him up for another season on loan just as much as it could herald a permanent departure. He’s training with Flamengo during the off-season, a move that has led to inevitable speculation, but you get the impression that he’s not a certainty to make a clean break quite yet.
Jonathan Russell and Tariq Uwakwe had their first tastes of senior action at Accrington this season without really forcing their way into John Coleman’s first team on a regular basis. There were plenty of reasons for that, but they’ll get back out next season and be stronger for the experience. Ethan Wady and Teddy Sharman-Lowe had brief stays at Dartford and Burton (the latter staying with his old club) in the first half of the season before returning; Wady may get more time out next season while Sharman-Lowe could integrate back into the academy ranks when back from injury.
Malang Sarr was a bit of a signing to nothing; a free transfer on a modest wage, it made sense for Chelsea to pick up a left-footed defender to develop on the side, and it still does. A loan to Porto didn’t turn out to be the best choice, but he did get some Champions League football despite finishing the season playing for their reserve team. He’ll likely go back out but could just as easily be sold if someone presents an enticing offer.
Ruben Loftus-Cheek used his season at Fulham to rebuild his fitness both physically and mentally and, in playing more minutes than ever before, he certainly ticked that box. Fulham were relegated and his productivity was undoubtedly stifled by being used in ways that he simply won’t be at Chelsea, so in that regard it makes no sense whatsoever to project a Chelsea return based on the quality of his Fulham outings. However, how a 25 year-old Loftus-Cheek comes back into a Champions League-winning squad is a harder question to answer and, if he finds that pathway hard to navigate, it might be time to move on. At his mesmerising, destructive best, he’s a player quite unlike most others and brings a skill set that is incredibly hard to find, and so this is a situation that everyone will need to handle with the utmost care to make sure there are no regrets a year or two down the line.
The Loan Army’s Future
FIFA’s rules on restricting the number and age of players being loaned out have been pushed back to start ahead of the 2022-23 season, so Chelsea have a little while longer to get things in order, but they were largely heading that way anyway after Michael Emenalo’s departure led to a dramatic reduction in the scale of the sign-to-loan operation. Those rules will restrict clubs to loaning out a maximum of eight players per season aged 22 or older, reducing to six a year later, and the vast majority of this group are younger than that and/or will be on their way by the time the rules come into effect. The Loan Report, however, will continue as long as there are players to report on here at TheChels.
Small update: FIFA's new loan limits have been pushed back for another year to 1 July 2022.
It was going to have an impact on clubs like Chelsea.
I spoke to Chelsea loan coach Tore Andre Flo a while back on how #CFC were preparinghttps://t.co/U7JpKJGirb
— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) May 14, 2021
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|