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Chelsea, Watford and the English loan system

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We’re a fortnight into the Premier League season. This is always a time of premature scrutiny, transfer window anxiety and managers weighing their palms deciding who’s doe-eyed enough to be sent out on loan. But for the biggest clubs, the loan system has become a tool of imperial stature.

Most notably for the one they (should) call Darth Mourinho and his Russian higher, Emperor Palpatine – “Come to the Blue Side, we have Champions League football and a state-of-the-art training pitch in Surrey”. But 29 out of the swollen squad of 54 players at Chelsea however, will not see the Surrey green this season. Instead they will be spread out across Europe “gaining valuable experience” at the stake of another club.

The reigning Premier League champions have a relationship with the Dutch side, Vitesse Arnhem. This is a dynamic that sees Chelsea potential play 1st team football in a top division. And indeed this is where hot prospect Dom Solanke followed the likes of Nathan Allan de Souza, Lewis Baker, Isaiah Brown, and Danilo Panti last week to go play with a size 5 this season. The 17 year-old Solanke scored 41 goals for the reserves last campaign. This is a feat that would historically earn you a place in a first team squad. However, this is no longer the case, and Solanke’s move last week proves that there is yet another trial of worthiness in the form of loan spells.

Another example of cunning lenders are newly promoted Premier League side, Watford. The Italian Pozzo family mafia took over the club in 2012 after a shoot-out with Elton John. They have since raised tough questions about multi-club ownership through their wily workings of the loan system. Watford were the subject of scrutiny during their promotion attempts of the 2012-2013 season when Gianfranco Zola oversaw a host of players drift in from Pozzo sister clubs, Udinese and Granada.

Matej Vydra being Watford’s most memorable loanee from Udinese who scored 20 goals in the Championship season and later joined on a permanent deal. Over 50 internal transfers have occurred since Watford’s acquisition in 2012 that has seen the creation of a shared network of players.

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A risk that has subconsciously been identified by many is what we shall call ‘perpetual loan state’. Coquelin’s story last season was so special for breaking this mould. This is a player who ostensibly had no escape route, been bullied out of position at his loan stay at Freiburg. But a fine set of performances for Charlton in the lead-up to the new year of 2015 and a fortunate (and inevitable) pile-up of Arsenal injuries forced Wenger to look to his fringe players. And what’s more, Coquelin was at his parent club’s beckoned call.

This is the power the parent clubs have with loans. Typical clauses in contracts that avoid confrontation between lender and loaned-to clubs, players reeled in when they are needed and thrown back into the water when they are surplus. For Chelsea it fulfils the fringe player’s yearn to work on the field and does not brandish them bench-warmers. But it is built on a false promise for the majority of one day breaking into the first team.

For Watford, the devious rotation of a conglomerate of players has gained success for all 3 teams involved. Granada since their promotion into La Liga in 2011 has maintained a top division presence through their use of Italian talent. This turn of fortune from their bankruptcy in 2009 could not have been achieved without Pozzo and the loan systems flexible laws.

Through the loan system, monopolies of talent have been built, but it does raise a few nuzzling questions: is this talent being wasted? Aren’t these young players better off in the reality of the English top flight rather than a nuanced simulation? And do these fleeting arrivals decay the character of a club? Droves of young talent are being diverted away from the Premier League for the fear of becoming instrumental for a rival team’s success. But what if we let them play, let them learn, left them a-loan?

Featured Image: All rights reserved by Vincent Wong

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Chelsea

Willian could hold key to Tottenham landing Anthony Martial

If Manchester United land the Brazilian it would undoubtedly improve Tottenham’s chances.

Jamie Watts

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Manchester United are reportedly preparing a £60 million bid to bring Chelsea winger Willian to Old Trafford this summer, according to reports from the Daily Mail, with manager Jose Mourinho having been linked with an approach for his former star for some time.

Chelsea were unwilling to sell at that time, but it is possible that Willian could be interested in a new challenge after apparently growing frustrated with life at Stamford Bridge, according to recent reports from Sky Sports. He managed a combined 25 goals and assists in 55 appearances in 2017/18, but only 20 of his 37 Premier League outings actually came as a starter.

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Tottenham meanwhile, have become frustrated at United’s assertion that Anthony Martial will not be sold this summer (Sky Sports), after Mauricio Pochettino made the Frenchman his priority target last month (the Sun), as he looks to bolster the supply line to Harry Kane next term.

However, Martial’s revelation that he wants to leave the club could be vital for Spurs, as Mourinho has previously stated that he would never stop a player from moving if they really want the move and the money is right. And he’s backed up his words, selling two-time Chelsea Player of the Year Juan Mata to his current club in 2014.

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The Red Devils are currently stacked in terms of depth for the left wing, with Marcus Rashford struggling to start games over January signing Alexis Sanchez, but wide-right is somewhat scarce and Willian would undoubtedly improve United’s balance for the better.

Although the manager would prefer the Frenchman went abroad, if he asked for the move to north London, Willian’s transfer to United would undoubtedly improve Pochettino’s chances of securing his key man. United will also be buoyed by their recent business with the west Londoners, having surprisingly secured the signing of Nemanja Matic from Stamford Bridge last summer.

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Atletico Madrid

Rafa Benitez should plot Fernando Torres reunion at Newcastle United

Rafa Benitez should plot a reunion with his former superstar.

Jamie Watts

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Newcastle United are reportedly in the market for new forwards this summer, with Rafa Benitez identifying the Magpies’ attacking output as a key weakness last term, despite their impressive 10th place finish.

The Spaniard is calling for the club to back him in pursuit of a “10 to 15 goals a season” striker this summer, with the likes of Salomon Rondon (Northern Echo) and Bas Dost (the Sun) circulating around the Newcastle rumour mill.

However, both would likely break the Magpies current club-record of £16 million – for Michael Owen from Real Madrid in 2005 – and perhaps Benitez would be better served going for a former favourite.

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Fernando Torres is a free-agent having left Atletico Madrid, following last month’s Europa League triumph and Newcastle should offer the 34-year-old a route back to England’s top flight this summer.

Under Benitez’s tutelage at Liverpool, Torres was widely recognised as one of the most formidable forwards in world football, and though his impact has diminished over the years, there’s no doubting the World Cup winner’s quality in front of goal.

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The prospect of an elite level striker arriving at St James’ Park on a free transfer is a no brainier if the player can be convinced and the club should make it happen.  He knows the league inside-out, having made 212 appearances for Chelsea – where he won the Champions League – and with Benitez at Anfield, and he could instantly propel Newcastle’s attack to higher levels.

Becoming a crucial part of a new project on Tyneside would be enticing for Torres, as his unwavering desire and tenacity on a football pitch is something that cannot be questioned. And he doesn’t seem the type to move to the States or China in pursuit of one last pay-cheque.

He has all the attributes to become a cult-hero at Newcastle, and the club should act now.

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Arsenal

Arsenal fans call for Aleksandr Golovin signing after dazzling World Cup display

Arsenal fans are calling for an impulse signing after the World Cup opener yesterday.

Jamie Watts

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Arsenal already possess any array of creative forwards, but Gooners are extremely keen on CSKA Moscow maestro Aleksandr Golovin, after seeing the midfielder dazzle in Russia’s World Cup debut againt Saudi Arabia yesterday evening.

The 22-year-old already had links to north London spanning back to January (the Sun), with Arsene Wenger revealing his admiration for the player’s talent ahead of the Europa League quarter-final clash against the Russian heavyweights in March.

And Golovin highlighted his obvious ability last night, as Russia routed Saudi Arabia 5-1 in Moscow, creating two goals for teammates, before rounding an impressive display off with a sumptuous free-kick in added time.

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His vision and technical ability led the hosts to a comfortable victory, with a superbly placed cross finding Denis Cheryshev in the box to open the scoring in the 12th minute. Before he again showed his class to pick-out Artem Dzyuba with a floated cross, which the striker converted comfortably 20 minutes from time.

And Arsenal fans have taken to Twitter to demand that Unai Emery should re-ignite interest in the player this summer.

Here’s the reaction:

Arsenal’s recent focus has been on landing Sampdoria’s industrious midfielder Lucas Torreira, as the manager looks to add balance to the team, according to the Guardian. 

But it seems fans want Emery to keep a close eye on the World Cup this summer, as it has become something of a shop window in recent years. And Golovin could earn himself a high-profile move if he continues performing at such a high level.

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