When we first heard of the Patrick Bamford to Derby County rumors, our first and immediate concerns were about playing time. Here was a young man who was lighting up League One as an automatic first-choice, and now he'd suddenly be fourth or fifth on the depth chart. Lack of actual playing time is a big problem when it comes to player development and at first glance it sure looked like this decision would be breaking this cardinal rule of player loans.
Of course, another cardinal rule is to make sure to challenge the player, to inspire growth and develop new skills. After 17 goals in 32* appearances this season (14 in 23 in the league), Bamford was quite clearly ready for the next challenge. Derby obviously aren't the only team in the Football Championship, but we did overlook an important factor with the Rams: Steve McClaren. As young Patrick told Derby's in-house television channel Rams Player:
"I think one of the key things was that I had worked with the Head Coach [McClaren] before, albeit only briefly."
"I worked with him for about three months and he was the one that pulled me up to the first-team and gave me my first chance on the bench against Newcastle United in the League Cup."
"He rang me while I was in Dubai to say that he was keen to sign me and that made the decision easy."
So, Bamford gets to reunite with the coach who gave him his first ever senior chance. Surely, good omens. Although the 20-year-old is under no illusions that he will just walk into the team.
"One of the discussions I had with Chelsea was that I would be going from playing week-in-week-out at MK Dons, to fighting for my place at Derby. It is something I have got to get used to."
Whether he really meant in this way or not, I'm implying it for him anyway: in order to prepare for his future Chelsea career, he will have to learn the art of dealing with squad rotation, of constantly working hard and proving himself day-in and day-out on the training ground to ensure his starting spot in the lineup. Maybe he didn't mean it so specifically, but that's the reality at all top-level clubs, not just Chelsea.
"Number nine is my preferred position, but I have played on the wing for Chelsea's reserves. I played up-front with Romelu Lukaku and we rotated a little bit, so I am quite used to playing on the right wing."
A little bit of versatility certainly won't hurt.
Good luck, Patrick!
* That's a lot of football! Chelsea, as a team, have played only 31.