This time last year, things were really looking up for Kenneth Omeruo. He had just finished an excellent half season at Middlesbrough, signed a new four-year Chelsea contract, and impressed at the World Cup for a fairly toothless yet resilient Nigeria. Much of said resiliency was down to young Kenneth.
While he was excited about his Chelsea future, he was also happy to join up with Aitor Karanka again up on Teesside, where he once again looked to be instrumental as Middlesbrough set about achieving promotion. After a bit of a shaky start, he seemed to settle down. There were clean sheets in the league and even an historic 2-2 draw and 15-round penalty shootout against Liverpool.
But then, something happened. It's not quite clear what that something was, but it was definitely ... something. It was not nothing. Whether it was the emergence of Ben Gibson (and Dani Ayala), whether it was injury, whether it was international duty, whether the reason was entirely out of the public eye, who knows. Something had made Omeruo practically fall off the Boro scene. He made almost half of his total appearances in the first two months of the season, and made just 1 substitute appearance in the final 3 months of the season. Boro even signed another Chelsea loanee, Tomas Kalas, to help cover primarily at right back, but also at center back. Meanwhile, Nigeria produced failure after failure on the international stage, and Omeruo seemed to get ever worse right along with the rest of the national side.
So, where do we go from here? The 21-year-old looks further from the Chelsea first team than at any point in the previous two years (let's not forget his excellent showing at the 2013 Confederations Cup, bandaged head and dislocated shoulder and all!). Maybe he goes back to Middlesbrough again, though there have been no rumblings in that direction. Lille and their new coach Hervé Renard are supposedly interested in taking him on loan, but yesterday two closer-to-home options emerged as well: Brentford and Queens Park Rangers, both of whom will be in the Championship next year and both of whom are practically within spitting distance of Stamford Bridge.
The source of these newest rumors isn't the greatest, but if we want to keep a close eye on Kenneth Omeruo and any possible revival, we could not ask for a better destination than either of those two.