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The Chelsea - Vitesse partnership is here to stay

Paul Meima | Vitesse

Despite what you may have read elsewhere and despite the lies spread by a potentially violent and certainly unstable individual, the relationship between Chelsea and Vitesse fully complies with every single FIFA, UEFA, FA, and KNVB regulation and there is no danger of the partnership succumbing to any external pressure.

In fact, it seems clear that the relationship is not only here to stay, but is actually growing stronger.

To wit, Chelsea board member Marina Granovskaia was in attendance at the Gelredome yesterday and watched Vitesse draw 2-2 against Go Ahead Eagles with Vitesse owner Alexander Chigirinsky and CEO Joost de Wit.  Granovskaia is likely the most powerful woman in football and is the primary liaison between the Chelsea and Vitesse front offices.  Her attendance at the match with two of the most important people at Vitesse reinforces the notion that the clubs will continue to enjoy close ties.

In addition, Chelsea's own Christian Atsu won Vitesse's player of the year award last night.  The award is voted on by the fans and the voting is run by our friends at SV Vitesse.

Atsu earned 26% of the vote, besting Davy Propper (21%) and sentimental pick, the recently-retired Theo Janssen (17%).

The fact that the Vitesse supporters awarded the honour to Atsu ahead of Arnhem natives Davy Propper and Theo Janssen speaks volumes about his play.  Propper, aged twenty-two, is a midfielder who has been with the club since he was eight years old and has done an admirable job of rising to the challenge of filling Marco van Ginkel's very large boots.

Janssen started his footballing journey as a fourteen year old in Vitesse's youth system, and spent ten years in the Vitesse first team before moving to Twente and later, Ajax. While away from Vitesse, he won just about every trophy, including the Eredivisie title, KNVB Cup, and the Johan Cruijff Schaal (Dutch equivalent of the Community Shield).  He was also named as the Dutch Footballer of the Year in 2010-2011 (for perspective, Luis Suarez won the year before and Jan Vertonghen won the year after).  He returned to Vitesse midway through the 2012-13 season, but suffered a knee injury and was unable to fully recover.  He officially called it quits on his playing career this season and was immediately given a job in the front office as a scout (for more on Janssen and what he means to Vitesse, see this fantastic piece from Eredivisie expert Peter McVitie).

Christian Atsu, meanwhile, has only been with the club since October and, of course, has no direct ties to Arnhem and is on loan from Chelsea.

While Atsu has easily been Vitesse's most consistent player this season, he truly began to shine during the second half of the season after moving from a central attacking position to his natural position on the left wing.

While his five goals and seven assists in twenty-five Eredivisie matches don't exactly leap off the page, his shots hit the posts more often this season than I've ever seen from any player. An inch here or an inch there and Atsu's goal total could have been doubled.  In addition, the number of chances he created for his teammates is not properly reflected in his assist total, as Vitesse has had issues all season with putting the ball into the back of the net (Vitesse's top scorer this season is Lucas Piazon, with eleven goals, despite the fact that he hasn't scored in four and a half months).

His ability and willingness to start the season as the central attacking playmaker, despite never having played that role before is a testament to his versatility as well as to his personal character, as he happily fulfilled whatever role manager Peter Bosz asked of him.

Since the partnership between the clubs began in the summer of 2010, Chelsea has been sending Vitesse better quality loanees with each passing season.  The fact that Vitesse has given Atsu exactly what he needed to make the most of his development this season will likely only serve to reinforce Chelsea's belief that Vitesse is the best destination for some of its most prized prospects.

We'll have much more on Christian Atsu's season at Vitesse later in the week, and once the season's over, we'll be working with Juni from The Chels on putting together a list of potential Chelsea loanees who might find themselves in Arnhem next season.  Juni is perhaps the world's foremost expert on all things Chelsea youth and runs the extremely popular Twitter account, @chelseayouth, so be sure to keep an eye out for what will surely be some fantastic insight into what sort of impact Chelsea could have on next season's Vitesse squad.

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