Nathaniel Chalobah made his long-awaited Chelsea debut a couple weeks ago in the extra-time win over Leicester City in the League Cup (then played his first few Premier League minutes for the club last weekend as well). It was a debut six years, six loans, and one-hundred and six games in the making, which does make it easy to forget that Chalobah is still only 21 years old.
So there's still plenty of time for him to make an impact at Chelsea, though we shouldn't dither for too long, especially after what seemed like a completely wasted year on loan at Napoli last season (9 appearances in all competitions). Though as technical coach Eddie Newton tells it, exposure to the Italian game in Naples has proven beneficial for the youngster even so.
"Nathaniel learnt a lot tactically from going over there. It was a different way to train, a lot of tactical information was given to him. Fortunately, the manager [Conte] is of that culture and trains in a very similar vain, therefore it's not alien to him."
"Nathaniel has got into the training and dealt with it really well. He is mentally more focused, more driven and grown up a lot. He is at that stage of his career where he is ready to stake a claim."
-Eddie Newton; source: Evening Standard
Former Chelsea player and assistant manager Newton has been in charge of loan player coaching and tracking for a few years now, so his assessment of the youngster should carry added weight.
Chalobah has made the last three matchday squads for Chelsea in all competitions, unlike, say Ruben Loftus-Cheek, who was on the bench for the first three league games of the season but has been limited to League Cup action only, and that while being shoehorned into a second striker-ish role (and to not great effect). Simon Johnson of the Evening Standard reckons the two youngsters are "heading in opposite directions" and he's probably not wrong.
But that's good news for Chalobah, who's waited patiently for his Chelsea chance and is now looking to convince all observers, but especially the head coach, that he's deserving of many more minutes.