Chelsea acquires more top young talent than any other club in Europe as a way to offset its costly forays into the transfer market by -
- implementing low-cost talent into the first team (Thibaut Courtois, Kurt Zouma), or
- selling them at a profit (Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku)
Even the players that Chelsea doesn't put into the first team or sell at a big profit can still be sold for modest amounts that allow the club to recoup all or most of its initial investment (Jeffrey Bruma, Slobodan Rajkovic, Patrick van Aanholt).
Acquiring top young talent at a relatively low cost and allowing another club to develop said talent while Chelsea focuses on putting together the strongest first team possible is a ruthlessly effective way of ensuring that the talent pipeline continues to flow, while simultaneously giving Chelsea the best possible chance at winning trophies year in and year out.
Marco van Ginkel's season-long loan to AC Milan is just the latest example of the club's loan policy at work.
Gazzetta dello Sport reports that if Van Ginkel plays more than twenty matches for AC Milan, there will be no loan fee involved. However, if Van Ginkel plays less than twenty matches, AC Milan will have to pay Chelsea around £475,000 (€600,000). If Van Ginkel plays exactly twenty matches, then the loan fee will be around £315,000 (€400,000).
The best outcome for all parties is that Van Ginkel plays every single match for AC Milan. In this ideal scenario, Van Ginkel will get the first-team minutes he needs to maximise his development and he'll return to Chelsea a better player. AC Milan, of course, then won't have to pay Chelsea a loan fee.
Van Ginkel would've cost Chelsea around £3.5m this season on the FFP books, but with AC Milan paying Van Ginkel's £35,000 per week wages, Chelsea will save about £1.5m this season, assuming Van Ginkel plays over twenty matches for AC Milan (having already paid his wages during the first two months of this financial year). If Van Ginkel plays twenty matches or less, then we can add the loan fee to Chelsea's savings.
Van Ginkel remains on the FFP books at a paltry £2m hit, which is simply an investment in the future returns Van Ginkel is very likely to provide, either on the pitch at Stamford Bridge or on the transfer market in the form of a nice profit that the club can put towards buying yet another player.
I'm a big fan of Marco van Ginkel and think (hope) his path is more akin to Thibaut Courtois than Kevin de Bruyne. Either way, I'll look forward to watching him play with and learn from Michael Essien, Chelsea's greatest box-to-box midfielder and someone who knows what it's like to recover from a serious knee injury.
Lastly, for an excellent look at how Van Ginkel slots into AC Milan's system, be sure to read this piece from Peter McVitie. McVitie is an expert in all things Dutch football and has been following Van Ginkel for years (he also interviewed him while he was at Vitesse).