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Mid-season Loan Army Review: Checking in on Chelsea players on loan in the rest of Europe and South America

Andreas Bødtker Christensen (20, Borussia Mönchengladbach)

FC Augsburg v Borussia Moenchengladbach - Bundesliga Photo by Adam Pretty/Bongarts/Getty Images

Appearances: 19 (1710 minutes)

Goals: 1

Tackles: 2.2, Interceptions: 2.8, Clearances: 2.5, Blocks: 0.8, Aerials Won: 2.8

Andreas Christensen turned many heads during his first year on loan to Borussia "A German Team" Monchengladbach and needless to say, the summer brought about much speculation regarding his future. Obviously, he was never really going to be re-called to Stamford Bridge as his loan agreement was two years long and there was no reason to really disturb the arrangement. Nevertheless, that didn’t stop all sorts of other rumours, including interest from Barcelona and Borussia willing to break their transfer budget to land him permanently.

We’ll never know for sure, but Christensen’s season did coincidentally get off to a bit of a false start. Along the way, like last season, he faced some quality opposition in the Champions League and came up against some of the best teams in the world, experience which is valuable beyond measure. While he’s pulled up his socks, the same can’t be said for the rest of the team; after finding wins extremely hard to come by, manager Andre Schubert and the club parted ways.  The new man in charge is ousted Wolfsburg manager, Dieter Hecking.

Conclusion: Despite his uninspiring start to the season, Christensen’s form has picked up and is reaching last season’s levels. Hopefully the managerial change doesn’t hinder his playing time; I think he’s well on course to be part of the Chelsea first team next season.

Lewis Renard Baker (21, Vitesse Arnhem)

England v Italy - U21 International Friendly Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Appearances: 20 (1770 minutes)

Goals: 10

Shots: 2.5, Key Passes: 2.2

Lewis Baker’s second season at Vitesse was always going to be an important one, a chance to make a real mark in the Eredivisie, given that he had a season’s familiarity with the league, the country and the club as well. Given more responsibility this season after the departure of Vako Qazaishvili, Baker has already doubled his output in terms of goals scored, although he hasn’t registered a single assist yet.  Vitesse almost always deploy a three-man midfield consisting of Baker, young Zimbabwean box-to-box midfielder Marvelous Nakamba and summer signing from fierce rivals NEC Nijmegen, Navarone Foor.

Baker does see a lot of the ball and keeps the passing ticking in midfield, but his chemistry in midfield with Foor has proven to be an issue. More often than not, the two are not on the same wavelength and this has been reflected in some poor midfield play, and a failure to provide a proper link between the midfield and attack. Of course, a lot of Vitesse’s poor form is also down to their heavily winger-oriented style of play but the lack of coordination in midfield is almost always apparent.

Conclusion: Apart from the aforementioned issues, Baker has been a difference-maker for Vitesse and has won the team many a point with his goals. He definitely needs to exert his influence on the game more, although I believe the lack of coherence in the team is a huge stumbling block. I’d like to see Baker at Chelsea after perhaps maybe another loan, at a better team.

Jeremie Boga (19, Granada CF)

Thailand All-Stars v Chelsea FC Photo by Thananuwat Srirasant/Getty Images

Appearances: 11 (712 minutes)

Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Shots: 1.5, Dribbles: 3.7

Jeremie Boga was sent on loan to Granada CF early into pre-season and was hence given ample time to adapt to his new team and fit into their brand of football. Things seemed to be going according to plan as he began the season as a starter and looked to be one of their major attacking outlets. However, he was kept out of the side for a long time as Granada suffered loss after loss. Even following a managerial change, Boga did not immediately get back into the side; when he finally did, Granada picked up their first win of the season, and against Sevilla of all teams! Boga claimed in a presser later, that his lack of playing time was down to his lacking contributions in defence. Ever since that win, the French youngster has gone back to being a regular in the side and has been playing well.

Conclusion: One only needs to watch Boga for a few minutes to conclude that he has great potential and ridiculous ability on the ball, however this season will be crucial as he learns to harness his skill and improve his decision-making. I believe Boga is more than capable of challenging for a place in the first-team squad, although how soon depends on what lies immediately ahead for the youngster. The upcoming five months will be highly important in his development.

Bertrand Isidore Traoré (21, Ajax)

AFC Ajax v R. Standard de Liege - UEFA Europa League Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Appearances: 19 (1544 minutes)

Goals: 5, Assists: 3

Shots: 3.4, Dribbles: 3.3

It was all going very well for Bertrand Traore. He had succesfully worked his way up to second-choice striker last season as a returning loanee and even scored a few goals for Chelsea. He was involved in pre-season and was starting up front with Diego Costa early on, but as Antonio Conte decided to drop the two-striker formation and with the arrival of Michy Batshuayi, Traore was never going to find regular playing time coming easily. Slightly disgruntled, the striker was loaned back out to the Eredivisie, but this time in a much more potent side at Ajax under the care of Peter Bosz, who coached Traore at Vitesse.

Conclusion: He hasn’t exactly been setting the league alight with goals like one might’ve expected him to and has been inconsistent but his talent is obvious. Perhaps it’s what makes it all the more frustrating that his goal output isn’t much greater than five. There’s an obvious feeling that Bertrand Traore isn’t performing as well as we know he can; hopefully he’ll have a much better half season to come and perhaps work his way back into Antonio Conte’s plans.

Mario Pašalić (21, AC Milan)

AS Roma v AC Milan - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Appearances: 8 (481 minutes)

Goals: 1, Supercup-winning kicks: 1

Pasalic didn’t see significant minutes for a long time because he wasn’t physically up to the mark upon arriving at Milan. After putting in the required work and finally being up to speed with the rest of his teammates though, the central midfielder has found himself in the starting line-up more often than not. Milan manager Vincenzo Montella seems to have a liking for the youngster and it’s been made clear that Milan would like to keep him beyond this season, on a permanent basis.

Conclusion: His performances haven’t been particularly awe-inspiring but his influence in the team is growing and Montella seems to trust him, which leads me to believe that he will continue to see minutes in the starting XI, provided he remains fit. I believe it wouldn’t actually be that bad an idea to sell him to Milan with a reasonable buy-back price.

Baba Abdul Rahman (22, Schalke 04)

Hamburger SV v FC Schalke 04 - Bundesliga Photo by Oliver Hardt/Bongarts/Getty Images

Appearances: 21 (1307 minutes)

Goals: 1, Assists: 2

Tackles: 3.9, Interceptions: 3.3, Blocks: 1.1, Dribbles: 1.7, Key Passes: 1

After being deemed too offense-oriented for a fullback by Antonio Conte, Baba Rahman was sent back to the Bundesliga to get regular minutes. He joined Schalke, who are currently managed by Rahman’s former manager at Augsburg, Markus Weinzierl. Baba had a run of starts at the beginning of the season, none of which came in a victory as Schalke suffered a terrible start to the season. Luckily for them, they turned things around quickly but with Baba reduced to a rotation option; the left-back’s starts began to be restricted to the Europa League, with Sead Kolasinac displacing him in league games.

Baba started two league games this month, which were his first starts in the league since October and most recently claimed an assist for Donis Avdijaj’s goal in Schalke’s last match of the 2016.

Conclusion: Playing time hasn’t been coming as easily as he would’ve hoped but he’s still been doing decently back whenever he’s been on the pitch. Baba didn’t exactly inspire much confidence with his appearances at left-back for Chelsea last season but with the shift to a formation deploying wing-backs, he might just be back in contention for a place at Chelsea.

Michael Anthony James "Big Hec" Hector (24, Eintracht Frankfurt)

Eintracht Frankfurt v Hertha BSC - Bundesliga Photo by Alexander Scheuber/Bongarts/Getty Images

Appearances: 10 (491 minutes)

Goals: 1, Red Cards: 2

Michael Hector started the season as part of a first-choice defensive pairing alongside David Abraham but managed to pick up two successive red cards (in the DFB Pokal and the Bundesliga, respectively) in his first two games for Eintracht and in his absence, Real Madrid loanee Jesus Vallejo shone and took Hector’s place in the XI. The burly Jamaican even fell behind midfielder Makoto Hasebe in the pecking order and since then, he’s had only three starts and some substitute appearances.

Conclusion: I’m very fond of the Big Hec but he should leave Chelsea for his own good.

Matthew "Matt" Miazga (21, Vitesse Arnhem)

Swansea City v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images

Appearances: 10 (590 minutes)

Goals: 1, Assists: 1

Miazga is one of the few members of the loan army to have actually played a competitive game for Chelsea. You might remember that he looked alright against Aston Villa but had a torrid time against Swansea City, was taken off by Guus Hiddink at half-time and never saw the pitch again until pre-season. The arrival of David Luiz in the summer further reinforced the fact that his immediate future did not lie at Stamford Bridge. Miazga did have a run of four starts when second-choice center-back Maikel van der Werff picked up an injury, but despite looking solid at the back, he wound up a victim of changes made to the side in order to try and arrest Vitesse’s worrying slump. Apart from that, Miazga's featured in the KNVB Beker against largely weaker opposition and found the back of the net in the previous fixture as well.

Conclusion: I can’t see Miazga making the Chelsea team any time soon. What I can see, is a sale after a few loan stints, with his market value possibly having increased.

Nathan Allan de Souza (20, Vitesse Arnhem)

Vitesse v Southampton - UEFA Europa League: Third Qualifying Round 2nd Leg Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Appearances: 16 (659 minutes)

Goals: 4

Shots: 1.1, Dribbles: 1.3

Nathan has already exceeded his minutes (and goals) totals from last season but is still as inconsistent as ever. He can be an effective option off the bench at times but can be an incredibly frustrating player to watch, carrying a bit of a lax air about him and guilty of showboating at times. He was once even taken off very early because manager Henk Fraser thought he wasn’t showing enough commitment on the pitch.

Conclusion: He’s only 20 and is talented, but his attitude has clearly been lacking and that’s never a good sign. Seems like a straightforward sell to me.

Charly Musonda Junior (20, Real Betis)

Werder Bremen v Real Betis - Dynamo Dresden Cup 2016 Photo by Boris Streubel/Bongarts/Getty Images

Appearances: 8 (278 minutes)

Assists: 1

Charly Musonda has had a first half of the season to forget. Gus Poyet seemed to be completely averse to handing him a start and by the time Poyet was sacked and replaced by Victor Sanchez, Musonda began suffering injury troubles and returned to Cobham. It’s unclear whether he returned to Betis, suffered another injury setback and returned to Cobham again or just never left in the first place. Either way, Musonda’s time at Betis is done.

Conclusion: Musonda is a most exciting prospect and it was lovely to watch him doing well in the La Liga last season, but his loan at Betis has gone terribly awry. He’s currently training with the first team but in all probability, will be sent out on loan again. There might be the smallest chance that Conte would want to keep him with the first team for the remainder of the season but what Musonda really needs at this point is minutes.

Bekanty Victorien Angban (20, Granada CF)

Appearances: 6 (383 minutes)

I had high hopes for Angban; he moved from a relegation-fighting Belgian first division side (STVV) to (admittedly another relegation-fighting side) Granada in La Liga, which is no small jump. He even made his debut for the Ivorian national team in a friendly. He seemed on course to play a significant role for Granada this season but it hasn’t been so. He’s only made three starts in the league and one in the Copa del Rey, making the match-day squad itself only eight times.

Conclusion: At the start of the season I’d hoped he could surprise everyone and sneak in with a chance the Chelsea gig, but unless things pick up in the second half of the season, that will still be some distance away. He only turned 20 in December though, so he has age on his side and remains a highly regarded prospect. I wouldn’t rule anything out yet, although his chances at Chelsea are admittedly on the lower end of the scale.

Danilo Pantić (20, Excelsior)

FK Partizan v Tottenham Hotspur FC - UEFA Europa League Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images

Appearances: 9 (480 minutes)

After a meager 94 minutes played at Vitesse and and some highly controversial words regarding Vitesse not liking Serbian players, Danilo Pantic was farmed out to Excelsior this season, a low-profile Eredvisie team based in Rotterdam (fun fact: Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink’s nephew, Nigel plays for the same team). Evidently, he hasn’t been able to establish himself as a regular there either.

Conclusion: Sell.

Cristián Alejandro Cuevas Jara (21, STVV)

Chile v Mexico - Toulon Tournament Group A Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Appearances: 13 (1041 minutes)

Tackles: 1.5, Interceptions: 1.1

Cuevas was an established regular for STVV last season and looks to be this year, as well.

Conclusion: He might be assigned a more aggressive loan next season next season but I don’t think we’ll ever see him play for Chelsea.

Kenneth Josiah Omeruo (23, Alanyaspor)

Nigeria v Argentina: Group F - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images

Appearances: 12 (1110 minutes)

Aerials Won: 2.5, Tackles: 1.5, Interceptions: 2.5, Clearances: 5.2, Blocks: 1, Own Goals: 1

After his time at Middlesbrough, Omeruo chose to move to Turkey; he was a key player for Kasimpasa last season and has been again this season for league newcomers Alanyaspor. He’s started all the games he’s been available for, racked up some decent defensive statistics and still believes he can get a chance at Chelsea.

Conclusion: He’s had plenty of experience out on loan now, it’s likely that we’ll see a permanent decision on his future soon. He was impressive at the World Cup in 2014 but seems to have plateaued since. He was close to a move to Besiktas this summer and I reckon he might want a permanent move if he isn’t considered for the first team next season.

Matej Delač (24, Royal Excel Mouscron)

Appearances: 13 (1170 minutes)

The Bosnian goalkeeper is on his 11th (!) loan spell and has worked his way up to first-choice goalkeeper at Mouscron. It can be said that he’s made significant progress this season, as this is the highest level yet he’s had regular minutes at.

Conclusion: He’ll hopefully land a permanent deal at Mouscron or a team at a similar level.

Islam Salieh Feruz (21, Royal Excel Mouscron)

Manchester City v Chelsea - Barclays U21 Premier League Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images

Islam Feruz, once a highly heralded prospect, has been out on loan since the beginning of the 2014/15 season and has played 271 minutes in total.

Conclusion: Well, at least he’s been able to get on the pitch in Belgium. He’s contracted to the club till 2019 so it’s hard to say anything regarding his immediate future but his future at Chelsea (or not Chelsea, to be specific) looks something of a foregone conclusion at this point...

Wallace Oliveira dos Santos (22, Gremio)

Gremio v Botafogo - Series A 2016 Photo by Lucas Uebel/Getty Images

Appearances: 9 (768 minutes) since the start of this European season, 18 (1565 minutes) for Gremio in total

Remember that pre-season game after which we were all factoring Wallace into Chelsea’s future? Things do change quickly in football..

Conclusion: While his loan spells in Italy were nothing short of absolute farces, he did cross the 1,000-minute mark at Vitesse and has seen minutes at Gremio as well. Could there be an outside chance of him being considered for the right wing-back role? Highly unlikely.

Joao Leandro Rodríguez González (20, Santa Fe)

Appearances: 2 (103 minutes)


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