Guus Hiddink has spent plenty of time talking about his need to evaluate all players, especially the youngsters, now that he's back at the club as interim manager. Perhaps that intent was part of the impetus behind the closed-doors friendly held this afternoon at Cobham between a Chelsea reserves side and local rivals QPR, nowadays managed by former Chelsea great Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink. With the full Chelsea first-team management staff watching on, and the Blues fielding a ridiculously strong lineup for the occasion, the 5-0 scoreline in our favor was almost a foregone conclusion.
Our team this lunchtime is Collins; Dabo, Aina, Davey, Baba Rahman; Loftus-Cheek, Houghton; Atsu, Musonda, Traore; Bamford. #CFCU21— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 19, 2016
Other than goalkeeper Brad Collins, right back Fankaty Dabo, and young superstar Charly Musonda, that's a team comprised of early loan returnees (Davey, Houghton, Atsu, Bamford) and youngsters who have barely gotten a look-in at first-team level (Aina, RLC, Traore, Baba). While there's obviously no official confirmation of this, there's a very good chance that this was also an occasion for these players to show their talents for any scouts who may have been in attendance, as a sort of loan showcase, if you will.
Patrick Bamford scored twice, Atsu and Musonda added one each, the latter from the free kick seen above, and there was an own goal from a QPR player as well in the comprehensive home victory. Substitute appearances from Alex Kiwomya, Kasey Palmer, and one of the older Musondas (Tika), completed the action.
No doubt useful for him but realistically few of them are going to get a look-in, several will go back out on loan. https://t.co/SoUmGNxWXx— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) January 19, 2016
With Hiddink mentioning both Bamford and Atsu by name over the past few days, the chance of either of them sticking around with the first-team can't quite be ruled out just yet. But as soon as either makes a competitive Chelsea appearance, they will be prevented from joining another team this season due to FIFA regulations, which makes any decision a bit more impactful. Friendlies obviously don't count, though FIFA do take competitive U21 matches into account, as we saw with Nathanial Chalobah and Hatem Ben Arfa last season.
Bamford does seem to have a couple Premier League suitors, including relegation-threatened Swansea City and AFC Bournemouth, while Aitor Karanka up at Middlesbrough remains a fan. Atsu's options seem to be a bit more exotic, with Espanyol linked very strongly over the past few days. Others supposedly interested include Levante, HSV, and Galatasaray, and there's also a random story of Chelsea swapping Atsu (and £15-20m) for Leicester's Riyad Mahrez, which sounds far-far-far-far-faaaaar too good to be true.