With Mourinho's old Real Madrid assistant, Aitor Karanka occupying the hot seat at Championship promotion hopefuls Middlesborough, it's only natural that we've struck up a close relationship with the Teesiders. Once Patrick Bamford (21) and Jamal Blackman (20) joined Kenneth Omeruo (20) towards the end of August, we had in fact reached our maximum allowed number of loanees at Boro. The two English boys have signed on only until January; Omeruo is there full the long haul.
While Blackman has yet to play (he's only trained a couple times with the team so far, in fairness), Omeruo is already a fan favorite from the second half of last season. Karanka actively courted the African Champion's loan signature during the summer and the center back has featured in 5 of Boro's 6 league matches so far (starting all but the first). He missed the game last weekend on account of his involvement in Wednesday's ACN qualifiers. The one Chelsea player involved was Bamford, who came off the bench for his second substitute appearance, though he got less than 15 minutes in the 2-1 Boro win. Bamfordinho is still looking for his first goal of the season (44 minutes total played).
We "only" have three players on loan at Vitesse this season and so far only Bertrand Traoré (19) has played any significant part in the Eredivisie side's continuing struggles. He's started on the right wing in 5 of the first 6 games (and featured as a substitute in the sixth), though he's still looking for his first goal and his first victory. Vitesse did grab a long-overdue three points on Sunday against Excelsior, but Traoré picked up an injury during the international break playing for Burkina Faso and thus missed out.
Lost soul and frail midfielder Josh McEachran (21) did make his second substitute appearance, getting 10 minutes from the bench. Meanwhile, lost soul and energetic right back Wallace (20) made his third start for the club in the 3-1 win but was responsible for giving away the visitor's consolation goal via a conceded penalty. Some say it was a harsh call; judge for yourself.
A tiny enclave of Cobham East, NAC Breda is the Eredivisie loan home of tall center forward Stipe Perica (19) for the second straight season (and is the new permanent home of Chelsea trainee Isak Ssewankambo). Perica scored 6 goals in just 5 starts and 20 or so substitute appearances last season. This year, he's already made three starts -- he's played all 270 available minutes to him since joining in mid-August in fact -- and has found the back of the net once.
Promising, record-setting young prospect Fernando Torres (30) and grizzled over-the-hill veteran Wulfert Cornelius Marco van Ginkel (21) joined up with the once-proud giants of Northern Italy just before the close of transfer window. Sadly, neither featured in the crazy 5-4 win at Parma this weekend. Van Ginkel at least got to witness it all from the bench, while Torres missed out on account of a last-minute knock picked up in training. Then again, I think it was rather appropriate that in the first game of the rest of Torres's life, AC Milan started without a recognized striker. (Come on, we gots to have us some Torres jokes!)
One of the nicer trends of recent Chelsea loans has been the increasing propensity to use Bundesliga teams. This season, we have no less than four players in Germany (each with a different team), though that does not include the German Messi, Marko Marin (25) who is in Italy with Fiorentina. I'm including him here because it's not like he has played even a single minute for Leonardo Da Vinci's favorite football team.
Surprisingly, disappointingly, Marin's total number of minutes has been matched exactly by young Tomas Kalas (21) at 1. FC Köln. After he announced himself to the world with a great performance away at Anfield, big things were expected from the Czech youngster. He was the first to leave Chelsea on loan this summer; needless to say, things have not gone exactly as planned so far for him. Considering that Köln have yet to concede at all in three matches in the BuLi this season, Kalas may have a serious fight on his hands to get any amount of significant minutes.
Things have gone slightly better for the three other Chelsea players in the German league. Thorgan Hazard (21) is an absolute star in the making (must be that Hazard DNA) and is currently just about the first option off the Borussia Mönchengladbach bench. He has two goals in six substitute appearances across three different competitions so far this season.
Lucas Piazon (20) is enjoying his time at Eintracht Frankfurt well enough to be already considering a long-term future there. He has started and played the full 90 as an inverted left winger in three of the four games possible on the new season. Meanwhile, Oriol Romeu (22) has been a mainstay in the double pivot of a struggling VfB Stuttgart side. He's played every available minute to him so far, but is still looking for his first win in four (three losses). He is one of the leaders in whatever Opta defines as interceptions in the Bundesliga.
PREMIER LEAGUE ANTI-WENGER AGENTS
The purpose of the four Premier League AWAs is to annoy Arsenal and, specifically, Zippers' Most Wanted, Arsene Wenger. We have great confidence that they will succeed in their mission and continue the tradition established by Romelu Lukaku last season. While Lukaku himself has now joined Everton on a permanent basis, we do have an agent on Merseyside still, in the form of Christian Atsu (22). The explosive, versatile midfielder-winger has made just the one five-minute substitute appearance so far for Roberto Martinez. He went as an unused substitute this past weekend.
Two of our older loanees have fared much better in the early going. In his auditions for a permanent move somewhere, anywhere, Ryan Bertrand (25) has been the undisputed first-choice left back at Southampton and collected his first official assist by picking out Graziano Pelle for the first goal in this weekend's 4-0 demolition of Newcastle. Victor Moses (23) did not feature in Stoke City's first two games, but has started all three since, collecting an assist against Portsmouth in the League Cup and putting in a Man of the Match performance in Sunday's losing effort at home against Leicester City (which was especially shocking coming on the heels of Stoke's win at the Etihad the week prior). The Moses against Leicester was the Moses we once saw for Wigan against Branislav Ivanovic.
The newest and youngest member of the AWA, transfer deadline day loanee Nathaniel Chalobah (19) unfortunately did not feature at all for Burnley this weekend.
ELSEWHERE -- TOP FLIGHT
Long-dormant Gaël Kakuta (23) is showing signs of life once again, especially after last weekend's performance that saw him score a rather well-taken goal in Rayo Vallecano's 2-3 loss to fellow La Liga side Elche. Kakuta has started all three of Rayo's matches so far. Meanwhile at Elche, young Croatian supertalent Mario Pašalić (19) has started two of three, including making his debut in midfield against none other than Barcelona. Elche lost that day, but now have a draw and a win to show for their efforts. Pašalić also finally collected his first senior Croatia cap after taking part in their pre-World Cup training camp this summer.
Keeping it Mediterranean, we find young Colombian attacker Joao Rodriguez (18) over at SC Bastia, on the island of Corsica. Managed by ex-Chelsea hero Claude Makélélé, Rodriguez has shown a few flashes of excellence in his three substitute Ligue 1 appearances. Further east, similarly on an island, we find Islam Feruz (19) at OFI Crete. He made his debut for the Greek first division side this weekend, albeit without much impact in his 30 minutes of work off the bench. At least it's nicer weather than Russia, right?
Speaking of far-off lands, Cristián Cuevas (19) is back in his native Chile, at top flight leaders Club Universidad de Chile. As far as I can tell, Cuevas has not featured in any of the eight league games but did partake in an early-round Cup victory.
ELSEWHERE -- LOWER LEAGUE
One of my personal favorites, John Swift (19) had a good start to his first loan ever, at Championship new boys Rotherham United. He played a part in each of Rotherham's first four games (starting two of them, both wins and being named Man of the Match in one of them), but has not featured in any of the last four after The Millers signed a couple more midfielders in mid-August. This past weekend, he didn't even make the bench. Hopefully the trend will soon reverse itself.
Goalkeeper Matej Delač (22), whose existence was confirmed this summer when he joined our pre-season tour for a while, made his French second division debut this weekend, keeping a clean sheet for AC Arles-Avignon. Delač is on approximately his 235th loan of the last four years as he goes for the most number of loans Guiness World Record.
Lastly, we come to mystery man Ulises Dávila (23), who continues his quest to play for every single Spanish second division side before his 30th birthday. After season-long stints at Sabadell and Córdoba (for whom he secured promotion to the top division with a last-minute goal in the playoffs), he's now at CD Tenerife for whom he's started the last two matches.