Chelsea currently have ten players spread out around Europe on loan, gaining valuable first team experience that they wouldn't be getting at Chelsea. Several of these players will be returning in January to Cobham, and will factor differently into Chelsea's future plans. Some will have their loans extended with their current club, some will be loaned to a different league to expose them to different competition, some may be sold, and one or two may stay and play for the reserves while hoping to break in to the squad.
Ben Gordon is a nineteen year old who has been with Chelsea since leaving the Leeds academy 2007. He's spent the first half of the season on loan at Kilmarnock, where he has started every game they've played at left back. Reports on his play have been very good, as he's scored once and set up six more goals in his twenty-two starts to date. He's shown good pace and good passing, and Kilmarnock's slower build up has served Ben better than some of the more direct styles that he's seen on previous loans. Chelsea don't want to return Ben to the Scottish premier league, however, as his contract with Chelsea is up in June and they want to see how Ben does in the upper levels of English football. Ben will be returning to the club on Monday, and it's possible we'll see him make his Chelsea debut at some point thereafter.
"Ben plays his last game on Monday and then goes back to Chelsea," assistant manager Kenny Shiels told Press Association Sport. "The feedback we're getting is that they want to have him closer to London where they can monitor his progress, and maybe a southern club in the Championship or wherever."
Gordon is in a difficult position to break into the first team here. Ashley Cole is firmly entrenched as the first team left back for the forseeable future, and Patrick Van Aanholt seems to be a favorite of Ancelotti. Yuri Zhirkov is also available to provide cover on the left side if anything were to happen to Cole. Keeping Gordon around may be an option though, as Van Aanholt has been rumored to be heading out on loan for the second half of the year. If that occurs, Gordon could reasonably expect to see a few runouts with the first team this season, or at the very least several cameo appearances.
The more likely scenario for Gordon is a loan to a championship side. Chelsea seem concerned about the level of competition he faces in Scotland, as they haven't sent any players there in years to see how effective it's been for their development. Largely due to that, Chelsea seem to want Gordon closer at hand to determine whether or not to extend his contract when it runs up in June. Gordon seems well aware that Chelsea want to see more of him, as evidenced by quite a few quotes recently:
"The only thing from Chelsea's point of view is that they were saying maybe I could play in England."
"When I first came to Kilmarnock the guys at Chelsea were interested to see how it went. They said I could come back to play in the Championship then compare how I do there."
"If Chelsea want to give me a new contract it is about proving myself somewhere else or maybe staying at Kilmarnock. My contract is up at the end of the season so the next six months will be massive."
"Chelsea have never had a player on loan in the SPL before so it is hard for them to compare. They admit they are not sure whether to give me a new deal."
"Most players in the Premiership are on loan at clubs in the Championship or League One. If I want a deal at Chelsea I might have to go to one of those leagues. It is hard for them to compare the SPL and English football."
Gordon seems legitimately interested in proving he can cut it with a club like Chelsea, so if he impresses this spring in whatever capacity he plays it would not surprise me to hear that he's extended his contract with us. If he does choose to leave, he'd in all likelihood end up staying in England, so we'd at least be looking to receive a fee decided by a tribunal as opposed to nothing. Hopefully Ben's experience at Killie will be beneficial for both himself and the club going forward, as there is no such thing as too much homegrown talent.