Vitesse Arnhem, or Chelsea B as we often like to lovingly refer to them, and their mutually beneficial partnership with Chelsea have made plenty of news in recent years, both positive and negative. Vitesse of course aren't the first team with whom we've ever established such a working relationship (PSV and Alex comes to mind) — nor are we the only ones to ever engage in such pursuits — but they're easily the most visible.
Our steady supply of decent-to-excellent talent have helped Vitesse to pretty good finishes in the Eredivisie, while in return, they've helped said talent develop with competitive, professional-level match action and coaching. Other teams may have regarded this successful partnership with envious eyes or may have even questioned its legitimacy, but as far as we know, everything has been done by the book and to UEFA's and FIFA's liking.
Perhaps buoyed by such success, we're seeing more and more rumors of Chelsea establishing further partnerships in other leagues. We had heard about two Belgian teams before, Royal Mouscron-Péruwelz and Royal White Star Bruxelles, and they're now joined by Vitória de Setúbal from Portugal. As far as I know, they don't have 'Royal' in their name.
This one broke about a month ago; even the Daily Mail ran a few words on it. Basically, the story goes that Mouscron-Péruwelz's majority shareholders used to be Lille OSC (of Ligue 1), but one fine spring day, Lille, for whatever reason, had enough and broke up, taking the kids, the dog, the cars, AND the house, leaving Mouscron with a camper van and zero moneys. Mouscron needed to find a new sugar daddy, and quick, or face expulsion from the Jupiler League for failing to meet the league's financial requirements (after barely surviving the drop).
Mouscron had been down this road a few years prior (thus the creation of Mouscron-Péruwelz via a merger), but they apparently refused Manchester City's bailout then. Now, they're practically begging Chelsea for one. The latest reports from Belgium say that Chelsea representatives are on-site this week to iron out the details, which would include 2-3 players on loan (unlike Lille, who would send upwards of 6 or 8) in exchange for our (financial?) backing.
This one was a quick little throwaway story last week, and it is sourced from a somewhat annoying and silly man named John Bico. You may remember Bico as the former agent to all the Hazards, including Eden during his transfer to Chelsea, and then later Thorgan and all the drama at Zulte-Waregem (including that absurd captaincy episode). Nowadays, Bico is dabbling in management, having taken over Belgian second division side Royal White Star Bruxelles about a year ago. Initially I thought this meant administrative management (and I've seen him called the owner as well), but their official website lists Bico as the head coach. So ... yeah.
I had hoped we were done dealing with this troublemaker, but Bico said last week that a five-year partnership agreement has been signed with Chelsea. Yay?
John Bico, Hazard's former agent, announced this morning that his club, WS Bruxelles, have a 5y agreement with Chelsea about a partnership.— Kristof Terreur (@HLNinEngeland) April 27, 2015
Last but not least, we move a bit further south, all the way out towards Lisbon on the Iberian Peninsula. Well, Setúbal, to be exact, which, as you may know, is the birthplace of José Mourinho. And if A Bola are to be believed, we're about to strike up a partnership with Vitória de Setúbal, the club where Mourinho's father spent almost a decade as a goalkeeper.
We've had dealings with Vitória before, and in fact, Ulises Davila (remember* him?) is currently there on loan. Apparenly his 0 goals in 12 appearances were enough to convince the Setúbal management to bring in a few more Chelsea players next season. A Bola go on to list a whopping ten (10!!) players who might arrive this summer.
"According to Portugal newspaper A Bola, an on-going negotiation is going on between Chelsea and Vitória de Setúbal for the latter to become a preferential club for Chelsea's loanees, helped by Jose Mourinho's good relationship with the Portuguese club.
The report says, Setúbal are aiming to sign at least 10 young players from Chelsea - Ull Davilla, Mario Pasallic, Gael Kakuta, Matej Delac, John Swift, Lewis [Baker], Nathaniel Chalobah, Josh McEachran, Wallace and Bertrand Traore."
-source: A Bola via Soccerlens
Obviously, some of these may be permanent moves rather than loans, but it still would be an impressive incoming class for the first year of a partnership.
* Speaking of remembering, I had completely forgotten that João Rodríguez is there on loan, too, though the 18-year-old winger has made a grand total of zero appearances.
Incidentally, of the three partnerships, the White Star Bruxelles one looks the most official at this point. That being said, there have been no announcements by Chelsea on any of them just the same. Based on our handling of Vitesse, we probably shouldn't expect any.