LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 10: Tomas Kalas (R) of Chelsea in action against Jesse Lingard of Manchester United during the FA Youth Cup sponsored by E.on semi final first leg match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on April 10, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
It's been a while since we looked in on the youngsters out on loan, but with the international break upon us it seems a good time to do so. It's now been just over two months for most of these players, so most of them have had the opportunity to establish their roles in their temporary clubs at this point.
Thibaut Courtois - Courtois can certainly throw his name in the mix with Vitesse's Tomas Kalas as the most impressive of the Chelsea loanees to date. He immediately established himself as the first choice keeper at Atletico, and despite the general lack of any sort of defensive competence in front of him has kept a very respectable scoring record in both La Liga and the Europa League. We've been spoiled here at Chelsea for years with Petr Cech in the goal, but after watching Courtois regularly this year I really have a hard time believing there is a club out there with a better 2nd keeper under contract than we have with Courtois. We certainly made the right move buying when we did, I'd imagine the price tag on Courtois has gone up quite dramatically so far this season.
Jeffrey Bruma - Bruma had a slow start to the season, largely due to being stuck behind Michael Mancienne and Slobodan Rajkovic on the depth chart at Hamburg. When a Mancienne injury opened the door for Bruma he quickly seized the opportunity with a fantastic disply against Stuttgart. Since that time Bruma has been a regular starter in the center of the defense for Hamburg alongside Rajkovic and we can begin to see some of his strengths and weaknesses developing. Two notable weak spots have been his tackling and his aerial ability, as neither have notably improved since his time at Chelsea. His positioning, shot blocking, and ball clearing ability have looked much improved, and his passing and dribbling are already beyond any of our non-Luiz center backs. Bruma will be missing the next 1-2 weeks with a minor injury, but due to the international break that will likely not translate to much (if any) Bundesliga action.
Matej Delac - Not much to say about Delac at this point. It appears he has worked his way from third choice to second choice as he's been appearing on the bench in the last 4 matches, but he has yet to actually get on the pitch in this loan spell. Hopefully it happens fairly soon, as there is little chance of him getting a work permit if it does not.
Conor Clifford - Clifford just arrived at Yeovil Town, but was inserted into their first choice lineup immediately. Clifford was withdrawn early as he gets his fitness up to competitive levels, but looked lively throughout his time on the pitch. It will be good to get an extended look at Conor, as he's someone who is likely only on the fringes of the first team squad in the case of an injury crisis at this point.
Patrick van Aanholt - After featuring regularly with several solid displays early in his loan spell, van Aanholt seems to have fallen out of favor at Wigan. For the last 5 matches in a row, PvA has been left out of the matchday squad. It's unclear why van Aanholt has dropped out of favor all of a sudden, but if he doesn't start to see some playing time soon I'd guess he'll be recalled in January.
Gael Kakuta - Like van Aanholt, Kakuta seems to be out of favor at the moment in Bolton. Unlike van Aanholt, Kakuta is at least making the bench at Bolton. With Bolton struggling and in the relegation zone though, Owen Coyle seems to favor using his more experienced backups late in these matches. With Kakuta's deal scheduled to run only until January, I'd be shocked if we see that deal extended.
Sam Walker - Walker had his worst weekend since going on loan, allowing 4 goals to find the back of the net against Gillingham. Two of the goals came from the penalty spot though, and his manager had generally good things to say about Sam while chastising the defense in front of him. All in allWalker has definitely seen his stock rise this season.
Yossi Benayoun - I'm still mad at Yossi for his twitter remarks after the 5-3 loss to Arsenal, so I'm skipping him.
- Tomas Kalas - Kalas has arguably been the most impressive of the players Chelsea has sent out on loan to date. When Kalas joined Vitesse there was speculation that he would be fighting for minutes and splitting time between the center of the defense and the right flank as he attempted to establish his role. That role didn't end up taking very long to establish, as Kalas has probably been the best player on the Vitesse roster as they continue to climb towards the top of the table. He's now started all 7 Eredivisie games and both Dutch Cup games in which Vitesse has participated in, a string of games in which Vitesse has allowed only 4 goals (1 of which was a penalty). There's little reason to think that anything but injury will stop Kalas from playing regularly, after his addition has been the catalyst to so dramatically improved a squad that allowed an astonishing 61 goals in the Eredivisie last season. I think stating that Kalas has seen his stock rise this season would be somewhat of an understatement.
- Ulises Davila - Kalas's teammate at Vitesse, Davila has seen much more limited playing time. After starting several matches in early October, Davila has been relegated to the Vitesse bench. He has been playing regularly for the Vitesse reserve team though, and has lately been finding the back of the net (scoring again last week). Davila has been bounced all around the attacking third of the pitch, hopefully with his solid recent play at the reserve level he'll get inserted into a 1st team game again soon.
That's it for now, but we'll make sure to give you another update once the international break concludes. Hopefully Davila, Delac, PvA, and Kakuta find the pitch again before that one.