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Lewis Baker shows off free kick skills, 'will return to Chelsea as a better player'

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Reminder: Lewis Baker is equally good with both feet.  Rare talent.

Young Lewis Baker has been one of the highlights of Chelsea's loan brigade this season. Plying his trade at Vitesse Arnhem in the Netherlands, the former England U20 team captain has started all eight Eredivisie games so far, scoring two goals and bagging one assist while helping his side maintain the league's top possession rate. His good performances have been noted not only by Chelsea fans but also by England U21 manager Gareth Southgate.  Baker credits the Dutch league for helping him improve on his already impressive skills.

"I'm really enjoying it, the football [at Eredivisie] is slightly different and is a lot more technical and tactical out there. When we play the bigger teams, it's also a physical game and I think I'm going to learn a lot out there."

"I've already learned a lot in the first few months and hopefully that can increase and next season, I'll return to Chelsea as a better player."

"The Eredivisie is a top league and I think it's a good learning place for me, on the pitch and off the pitch, seeing different cultures and the way players live with different playing styles. It can all just help you as a professional and add little bits to your game."

Along with Baker, Chelsea also sent other English prospects Dominic Solanke and Isaiah Brown to Vitesse.  The three of them have played together for Chelsea, for England, and now for Vitesse as well, and in the process, have created and maintained a bond that has transcended the pitch.

"We all [Baker, Solanke and Brown] live by ourselves, but in an area where we're five minutes from each other and five minutes from the training ground. And that's what we're there to do, concentrate on our football and become better players."

"It's not been too bad for us, because everyone in [the Netherlands] speaks English so off the pitch, we're all coping very well and we try to do it on our own basis. But it's helped having the three of us out there because if anyone is feeling homesick, and Dom and Izzy are a bit younger than me, then we can all get together."

"We've all helped each other out in the few months that we've been there, sometimes there's been good times and sometimes there's been bad times but we're all helping each other."

While still at Chelsea last season, Lewis Baker got his first call-up to an injury-hit England U21 national team.  He didn't have the chance to earn a cap back then, but he now has the chance to do so against Kazakhstan next Tuesday.

"It's been good to see the boys again and in the week that I've been here so far since coming last year, I've really enjoyed it. I know a lot of the lads from previous England age groups and also from watching their games on the TV."

"They always make you feel welcome and it's just normal to be back with the squad. The good thing is, there is a lot of talent here and it's very competitive in training."

"That can only help the squad, to bring the best out of each other."

-Lewis Baker; Source: The FA

Chelsea has been very hit-and-miss on some loan destinations this season, but so far, Lewis Baker's move to the Eredivisie has been an unquestionable success. Much like Bertrand Traoré last season, Baker has working hard and making the most of the opportunity he's been given.  It's hard not to root for someone who has this kind of approach, especially when it's someone from your own's club academy.

It should be noted that while we still maintain a large contingent of loanees at lower-level English clubs, the Vitesse experiment from Chelsea might start to break some barriers within the league's loan system, as the current reluctance from top English clubs to lend English youngsters to foreign clubs is very clear.

Lewis Baker, Dominic Solanke and Isaiah Brown doing fine abroad while on loan in a league that is mostly focused on technique instead of sheer physicality like the Championship could initiate a new trend for young English players, one that could create better and more well-rounded players for both club and country.