Given that the partnership between Chelsea and Vitesse is growing stronger with each passing season, it makes sense to take an intial look at which Chelsea youngsters could find themselves at Vitesse next season.
The quality of loanees Chelsea sends to Vitesse gets better each season, and since Chelsea has a vested interest in seeing Vitesse earn a spot in the Champions League, expect this trend to continue.
In an effort to project the impact Chelsea could have on Vitesse's squad next season, we reached out to the world's foremost expert on Chelsea's youth system, Juni from The Chels. Juni is a regular fixture in our Vitesse roundups, but for those who aren't familiar with his work, he produces comprehensive loan reports every week in addition to running the extremely popular Twitter account, @chelseayouth.
Juni kindly spent some time sharing his insights with us, and as you'll see, Chelsea could end up sending Vitesse some very talented youngsters next season.
Jake Cohen: We already know Lucas Piazon won't be returning to Vitesse, but do you think Christian Atsu, Bertrand Traore, or Patrick van Aanholt will go back to Arnhem?
@chelseayouth: I think Traore's got the strongest chance of returning there; he won't yet get a work permit for Chelsea and isn't ready to contribute at first team level for Mourinho, and that combined with his development and Bosz's trust in him lends itself well to a return. Atsu would be a no-brainer if all parties want it but the whispers of the last few weeks about him potentially going to a tougher environment seem to point against that. Van Aanholt's at the point in his career where if he doesn't make it at Chelsea this summer he'll have to depart permanently so you can rule a loan out. Piazon would be well set going back there again to try and produce the goods over a full season but that particular boat seems to have sailed for better or worse.
JC: It seems clear that van Aanholt is on the way out, and if the other players leave as well, do you have any thoughts as to where they'll end up?
@chelseayouth: Van Aanholt strikes me as nailed on to sign for a Dutch club if he does go permanently and I suspect there'll be a long list of suitors at the top end of the league. PSV, Feyenoord, Twente should all want him.
As far as potential new homes for the other guys go, it's hard to say really. The logical step up from the Netherlands is France or Germany and Chelsea haven't really had much luck with either of those of late, although they've not been shy to utilise the Bundesliga. Spain is a maybe for Piazon but the Málaga spell will scare them, and English options are just as worrisome because there's just not the same openness to young opportunities at the level they need. Arnhem makes a lot of sense for both; if only it were realistic.
JC: Vitesse is desperate for a striker and could use defensive help up the middle (defensive midfielder and centre-back). Are there any Chelsea prospects who could fill these needs at Vitesse, and if so, who are they and what are the chances they end up in Arnhem?
@chelseayouth: I've considered Nathan Aké relatively nailed on to head there at some point; it might well have been this season just gone had they not wanted to get him qualified as club-trained. He could slot in there next season and provide versatility and production from day one and become a real asset whilst refining the flaws in his game.
Andreas Christensen is an outside shot but one worth keeping an eye on; Danish players have done well in the Netherlands for a long time and if he's open to a loan move there's plenty of poorer options.
As far as strikers go, the Colombian kid Joao Rodriguez has indicated he'll be going there but he could easily wind up like Cuevas and Dávila and spend his time with the B Team acclimatising to Europe. That said, he does have plenty of time in England under his belt already so is ahead of that curve and is good enough to start out as a squad player and push from there.
Beyond that, Feruz and Bamford are the next contenders but neither would appear too likely because of the general reluctance of English/British prospects to go on overseas loans.
JC: What are the chances Chelsea sends their first serious English prospect to Vitesse? Patrick Bamford perhaps? Nathaniel Chalobah and Ruben Loftus-Cheek would be extremely unlikely, right?
@chelseayouth: I'd love to see it and I think Chelsea would be open to it, but too few players are willing to take that risk when they know there's safer options at home. When you're a highly-sought after talent earning a healthy wage with your life and family tied up in England, what motivation is there to go overseas?
Hutchinson went for medical reasons and Billy Clifford took in Antwerp because there didn't seem to be sufficient interest from the Championship, but in terms of progressive moves you'll struggle to find many English examples at all, at least at the levels Chelsea want to be seeing.
JC: Do you have any thoughts regarding the likelihood that Thorgan Hazard, Mario Pasalic or Wallace end up at Vitesse?
@chelseayouth: Thorgan needs to go to a much more testing league; the Eredivisie is above the Belgian Jupiler League but not sufficiently to test him at this stage, and especially with them having no European football.
Wallace would make sense except I think he'd struggle to beat out Leerdam and so they may look elsewhere, and Pasalic would again appear to have been nailed on before his form picked up and interest came from elsewhere. Depending on what (if anything) he does at the World Cup it might be hard not to send him to a more challenging environment. There's also the side issue to consider that he could join Stipe Perica at NAC Breda for the same reasons Perica went there in the first place.
JC: Are there any other Chelsea prospects that might have a chance of spending time in Arnhem next season?
@chelseayouth: Short of any new signings being sent there or a very unlikely and surprising home-grown kid going there, it would appear unlikely.
JC: Kenneth Omeruo is very unlikely to return to the Eredivisie after spending time at Middlesbrough, right?