This is the last one of these that I'll be doing for now, as Kalas, Courtois, and Bruma are the only three full season loanees who have played enough to really warrant this sort of review on. At the end of the season I'll have wraps on some of the players who've played a little less, hopefully their new homes will provide us with a large enough sample to get a better feel for where they are at. For today, though, we'll just focus on 20 year old Jeffrey Bruma.
Bruma was part of the massive Chelsea contingent to make it's way from Cobham to Hamburg this summer, but he's the only player of the lot still on the Chelsea books. With Slobodan Rajkovic and Michael Mancienne also making their way to the Bundesliga outfit it was a bit unclear how Bruma would fit into the clubs rotation in the center of the defense. At first it seemed this concern would be an issue as the preferred CB pairing of the club seemed to be Mancienne and Rajkovic. An injury to Mancienne opened the door for Bruma though, and since then he's been a fixture in the much improved Hamburg defense.
Unlike the previous two reviews I've done, Bruma has had some first team experience here at Chelsea. We've had several opportunities to look at the youngster and see him against Premier League competition so we have some idea what he needed to work on already. We knew Bruma was strong in possession of the ball and relatively solid when recovering, but he was a bit weak in the air and his tackling needed some work.
We can see real progress in several areas since Bruma has become a regular at HSV. Where Bruma typically played a short ball out of the back very well and didn't play very many long balls here, HSV's system has forced him to put a fair amount of work into that particular department. His long balls have improved greatly from what I've seen, so his passing now has a very well rounded feel to it. Bruma in general is very good at maintaining possession when he's got the ball at his feet and now features a pretty wide range of quality passing options.
Bruma has also made some real progress with his positioning and anticipation. Where Bruma was often caught off guard by runs in the past he now seems to anticipate them more frequently. He's got good speed to make up for his mistakes in judgement, but when he doesn't make those mistakes he's clearly far more effective. He's also been very effective at blocking shots and seems to have a knack for deciding when to simply clear the ball to safety. Like his long passing, Bruma has shown real development in this department.
When Bruma made appearances for Chelsea he was often beaten in the air due to poor anticipation and a general lack of quality when making aerial challenges. To this point Bruma doesn't look nearly as shaky in this department. I think this is largely due to much better anticipation of crosses and far better positioning. Bruma still is very susceptible to getting beaten by an excellent cross and a strong aerial finisher, and at this point I fear he may never be more than average in defending in the air based on his raw ability alone. Hopefully a little added strength and even more experience will help improve him in this department, but I imagine we'll always be well served by partnering him with a center back who is known for being strong in this department.
One other area I'd like to see some improvement from in Jeffrey's game is his all around aggressiveness. To date Bruma has only picked up a single yellow card. That in itself is not a bad thing, but Bruma also seems to be a bit hesitant to dive in on a tackle for fear of the card. While his tackling in general seems greatly improved from his Chelsea appearances, I really feel a bit more aggressiveness out of Bruma will help him in the long run. When he has decided to dive in on players he's shown a knack for timing it very well. I really think a little more confidence in his decision making may be all that is really lacking there.
I've only got one video for you guys today, but it was a good game for Bruma. Here are all of his touches from the game against Stuttgart. This one was really the first good game that HSV had this season and has launched them on a run of pretty good form:
HSv resumes this Sunday and will be challenged as they host Borussia Dortmund. I have to assume Bruma will feature in this one and be heavily tested by the Dortmund attack. HSV has now gone 9 straight Bundesliga games since they last suffered a defeat so there is some reason for optimism from their perspective. This is the kind of contest that we wanted the youngster to be tested in when we sent him to Germany in the first place, so if you have access to a feed (it's on ESPN3 in the US) I'd recommend tuning in for this one. Then again, It's starting an hour into the mouth watering City/Spurs matchup that has major implications on Chelsea's season. Luckily for you US fans ESPN3 archives everything.
Bruma has done very little wrong since breaking into the starting lineup at HSV. At this point I'd have been ok if we had recalled him as a backup to Luiz and Terry as opposed to buying Gary Cahill. The fact that he'll continue to start at HSV will definitely benefit both him and us in the long run though, and hopefully he continues to improve on the areas of his game that are a bit lacking at the moment. All told I'd have to say Bruma's stock has climbed a good amount since he left and he'll probably get some serious first team consideration over the coming summer. It will also be interesting to see if he makes the final Dutch roster for the Euros. He's already made a few senior appearances and he's certainly improved his stock this season and may well have played himself into their short term plans. It was an excellent first half for Jeffrey and I'm very much looking forward to watching him in action again soon.