Chelsea’s loan system has become a running joke amongst many football fans. Vitesse Arnhem have a cute little settlement with the West London giants where they manage to cream off the best of their young players and use them to climb up the Eredivisie.
Recently, Lewis Baker and Nathan Aké have both been promised moves away to Vitesse, and a season in Holland has become the final nail in the coffin for any young player. Unfortunately, it is not just a move to the Netherlands that is a curse for a Chelsea man, as a trip around the UK seems to have a similar fate.
Down the years at Chelsea the academy has received significant investment from a certain Russian billionaire but the club are continuing to see it as a means to comply with FFP rather than cultivate their best youngsters into first team superstars. Success at Under 18 and Under 21 levels is not rare for the West Londoners and the products from each year continue to look like some of the best in Europe; yet there is no progress to the first-team set up and Chelsea are beginning to run into home-grown problems.
Chelsea’s greatest problem is developing players from academy success to the first-team and the loan system has not helped to bridge that gap. A lack of patience and trust does not see first team responsibility given, but sees players alienated and the time from 19 to 22 sees very little development for many players who remain on Chelsea’s books.
Chelsea’s lust to loan has damaged endless players and Lewis Baker is likely to be the next man on that list, so here are Four more who the Blues ruined with loans:
Gael Kakuta – The most infamous of career slides at Chelsea, Kakuta was brought to Cobham under severely controversial circumstances that nearly saw the Blues face a transfer ban. Kakuta recently completed a permanent move to Sevilla and has, in some ways, rescued his career that looked to be getting slowly destroyed the longer he spent on the loaning merry-go-round at Stamford Bridge.
Kakuta has had a lucky escape, but the potential he showed at the age of 17 was suggesting of a future Ballon D’or competitor not a man who Chelsea would brush aside in a couple of years. Time at Dijon, Rayo Vallecano, Bolton, Fulham, Lazio and the dreaded Vitesse saw Kakuta reach 24 without ending his Chelsea torture. While most players his age and position are reaching their peak, Kakuta is trying to find his feet and his level thanks to the mind games of Chelsea’s addiction to loans.
Michael Mancienne – A bit of a flashback in Michael Mancienne, once a bright hope for Chelsea and England has found a home in Germany. Mancienne is now back in England, his home country, and was lucky to have his time before the Vitesse days but spent over four years out on loan at QPR and Wolves between 2006 and 2011.
Again, if Chelsea had decided that Mancienne was not up to and would never be up to their standard, the continue loans do nothing of positivity for the player. Mancienne represented England at all the youth levels and his career dramatically stunted when Chelsea needed to give him time, patience is not a virtue at the Bridge.
Josh McEachran – Perhaps the greatest disappointment in recent years, Josh could have been playing where Cesc Fabregas is for Chelsea currently.
Injuries were cruel to the Oxfordshire-born midfield player but he faced several loans around England before a move to Vitesse last season. Pin point passing compensated for McEachran’s slender physique and he threatened to be a symbol of Chelsea’s changing style of play in the Ancelotti era, instead he was the next on Chelsea’s production line for the rest of the football league.
McEachran got closer to succeeding than perhaps any other has done since John Terry, with several performances in the first team that had people at Cobham excited that their man had finally made it through. The first player to be born after the Champions League started to compete in it was quite an accolade, but that looks to be as far as McEachran’s career will go.
Nathaniel Chalobah – Maybe due to his domineering size, Chalobah looked leagues ahead of his contemporaries in youth football. Still only 20, Chalobah has not waved goodbye to his top level career just yet, but his recent performance at the Under 21 European Championships did not stand out.
In the days of squad limits, Chalobah’s versatility should assist any career progression. Four Championship loans have had varied success and perhaps if Watford had won promotion during his loan it could have kick-started Chalobah’s career at the highest level.
Another who has played at every representative level, Chalobah may still settle for a comfortable Premier League career but Chelsea’s loan system has done little to let the ex-Reading man develop. Loaning Chalobah may have helped the club make more money when they inevitably sell, but it has damaged the career of a player who looked to have the potential to be England captain.
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