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Chelsea Loan Round-up: Musonda, Ake, Christensen, Kane continue to be the stand-out performers

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First things first; I'd like to apologise for being inactive on the loan front for the past month, a hectic period at college coupled with less-than-optimal time management on my part has lead to a huge crunch for time.

However, I've still been watching some of our players out on loan and so, with no further ado, let's check up on what our brigade of loan soldiers has been up to for the previous few weeks!

Nathan Ake:

Appearances:

Premier League: Watford 0 - 0 Bournemouth (90'), Watford 0 - 1 Leicester (90')

FA Cup: Arsenal 1 - 2 Watford (90')

Nathan Ake, undoubtedly my personal favourite out of our players farmed out this season, faced brief competition from ex-Roma player and unashamed whiner, Jose Holebas, for the starting left-back spot after an impressive performance by the Greek against Leeds United in the FA Cup. Ake was restored to the line-up for their following game against Bournemouth, but Holebas was preferred for their next match which came only three days later, as Watford travelled to Old Trafford.

It soon became evident that manager, Quique Sanchez Flores, was simply rotating his left-backs in a busy fixture period, as Ake was set to start their clash against league leaders, Leicester City, as usual but due to an injury to Miguel Britos, was shifted to the center-back position alongside Sebastian Prödl instead, with Holebas filling in on the left. It was in this game that Ake displayed remarkable composure and slotted seamlessly in the heart of Watford's defence, making plenty of crucial interceptions and clearances and helping keep the mercurial Jamie Vardy quiet throughout the game and also demonstrating his far-reaching leap on multiple occasions. He even hit the post with a headed attempt on goal!

Although he could not prevent the Hornets from losing out to a Riyad Mahrez effort, Ake earned many plaudits, including the praise of his manager, with his performance. He then started Watford's crucial FA Cup quarter-final against Arsenal and contributed to an excellent, albeit dogged defensive display that saw them upset the Gunners, 1-2.

Patrick Bamford:

Appearances: Leicester 1 - 0 Norwich (N/A), Swansea 1 - 0 Norwich (26'), Norwich 0 - 0 Manchester City (67')

The 22-year old striker, who happens to have rather woeful competition for his position at Norwich, has evidently been getting more minutes than he did at Crystal Palace but after some paltry substitute minutes, earned his first start for the Canaries when they hosted Manchester City at Carrow Road. Despite being terribly isolated up front, Bamford displayed flashes of his ability and didn't do too badly, considering that he had practically no support up front, as Norwich frantically defended to hold City to a goalless stalemate. Bamford did, however, have a cracker of an effort from outside the box that had Joe Hart beaten, hit the crossbar. He was taken off in the 67th minute, as Norwich brought on two strikers to play up front, hoping to sneak a victory. Hopefully, Bamford will get the nod in their following fixture as well and preferably in a two-striker system.


Charly Musonda:

Appearances: Real Betis 2 - 2 Rayo Vallecano, Espanyol 0 - 3 Real Betis, Real Betis 2 - 0 Granada, Athletic Club 3 - 1 Real Betis (all 90')

It would be an understatement to say Charly Musonda has made an impact at Real Betis upon his arrival in January. The youngster has been one of the first names on the Betis team-sheet soon after his signing and has chipped in with impressive display after display - even his father has been surprised by his son's rapid progress - also earning a cult hero image of sorts among the Betis fans, but keeping his feet firmly on the ground. It's also no coincidence that Betis' went on a six-match unbeaten streak since the Belgian's inclusion in the side, which ended at the hands of Bilbao, in their last game.

If you weren't aware already, thanks to the excellent Shpendi10CFC, you can view touch-by-touch videos of almost all of Musonda's games for Betis on his YouTube channel.

Andreas Christensen:

Appearances: Augsburg 2 - 2 M'Gladbach, M'Gladbach 4 - 0 Stuttgart, Wolfsburg 2 - 1 M'Gladbach, M'Gladbach 3 - 0 Eintracht Frankfurt (all 90')

While his defensive partners have been mixed and matched, Christensen, only 19 years of age, continues to be one of Borussia's stand-out performers and a key component of the young side that sits in 4th place, three points behind Hertha Berlin, occupants of the third position and one ahead of Schalke, who are hot on the Foals' heels.

Of course, with the young centre-back excelling more than many would predict in the German top flight, there has been talk of interest from Barcelona and even Monchengladbach wanting to sign him on a permanent basis as they have done previously with ex-Chelsea loanee, Thorgan Hazard, but if recent reports are to be believed, Chelsea want to cut short Christensen's two-year loan short and bring him back this summer.

Here's a YouTube compilation of Christensen this season, if you like those things.

Papy Djilobodji:

Appearances: Werder Bremen 2 - 2 Darmstadt, Bayer Leverkusen 1 - 4 Werder Bremen, Werder Bremen 4 - 1 Hannover, Bayern Munich 5 -0 Werder Bremen (all 90')

That thrashing at the hands of the reigning champions aside, Werder Bremen have been much more impressive since the defender's arrival than they were before it. Djilobodji immediately was made part of Bremen's first-choice centreback pairing and has stayed there since, proving more than handy in their efforts to avoid the drop. Despite unexpected victories against the likes of Leverkusen and Hannover by a significant margin, Werder still sit one place and three points above the relegation play-off spot.

However, since he is Djilobodji, he can sometimes do Djilobodji-ey things, like this bizarre own goal in the aforementioned victory against Leverkusen.


Wulfert Cornelius van Ginkel:

Appearances:

Eredivisie: PSV 2 - 0 ADO Den Haag, Groningen 0 - 3 PSV, PSV 1 - 1 SC Heerenveen (all 90')

Champions League: PSV 0 - 0 Atletico Madrid (90'), Atletico Madrid 0 - 0 (120')

Marco van Ginkel seemed to take a step back by heading back to the league where he impressed enough to be bought by Chelsea in the first place by signing for PSV, who are not only in a two-horse race for Eredivisie title with Ajax, but were also due to play Atletico Madrid in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League. Since his arrival in Eindhoven, van Ginkel has firmly cemented his place in the PSV side, although in a more free number 8 role as opposed to his relatively more restrained role at Stoke. Unsurprisingly, he has scored thrice in his six league starts for PSV, his latest goal coming against ADO Den Haag. He also slotted his penalty away in PSV's unsuccessful shootout versus Atletico in the Champions League, after helping PSV hold the Madrid side to not one, but two consecutive goalless draws.

Although one may have the occasional laugh at WhoScored's prided player ratings, their analytical piece on van Ginkel since his loan switch to PSV is worth a read. As of now, it looks like Marco's decision to take a step back in order to take several steps forward is working.

Lewis Baker:

Appearances: Vitesse 0 - 1 Willem II, Roda JC 1 - 2 Vitesse, Vitesse 0 - 2 Feyenoord (all 90')

Isaiah Brown:

Appearances: Vitesse 0 - 1 Willem II (16'), Roda JC 1 - 2 Vitesse (88'), Vitesse 0 - 2 Feyenoord (83')

Nathan Allan de Souza:

Appearances: Vitesse 0 - 1 Willem II (30')

Dominic Solanke has been out since the beginning of February due to injury, but trained with the first-team squad at Cobham yesterday and is expected to be available for Vitesse's next game. Concrete information on Danilo Pantic has not been made available yet.

Vitesse, since the departure of ex-manager Peter Bosz, have been playing some dismal football and after squandering several chances to consolidate themselves in the top 4, now sit in 7th, the last Europa League qualification round play-off spot. Of course, their situation has not been helped by injuries to the likes of Renato Ibarra, Milot Rashica and of course, Dominic Solanke. Due to these injuries, though, Lewis Baker has forced his way back into the side and after some improved performances, will hopefully retain his spot when the squad nears full fitness.

Izzy Brown has been among the minutes for the same reason as of late, starting up front, and even grabbed his first senior goal while at it!

Nathan is full of tricks and skills but is yet to make a significant impact at Arnhem.

Todd Kane:

Appearances: Excelsior 2 - 0 NEC, NEC 1 - 0 Heracles, Ajax 2 - 2 NEC

Ah, Toddy Kane, my favourite Twitter personality. Also, turns out he's a pretty good footballer. NEC, albeit in a vein of uninspiring form, are 8th and two points away from 5th place, which is definitely quite all right for the newly-promoted side. Handed vice-captaincy a month and a half ago, he's been one of their most important players this season, starting every game he's been available for and getting forward in abundance as well. In fact, he notched two assists in NEC's most recent game, a 2-2 draw against second-placed Ajax.

Just bring him back, already!

Victor Moses:

Appearances: West Ham United 1 - 0 Sunderland (25'), 27.02.2016

Since his injury layoff, Moses had unfortunately lost out on his spot to the impressive Michail Antonio and suffered another injury setback soon after, that had him out until their FA Cup quarter-final against Manchester United. He was included in the match-day squad on the day, but was not called upon during the proceedings.

Michael Hector:

Appearances:

Championship: Reading 1 -0 Rotherham United, Charlton Athletic 3 - 4 Reading, Reading 2 - 2 Fulham, Huddersfield Town 3 - 1 Reading, Brighton & Hove Albion 1 - 0 Reading (all 90')

FA Cup: Reading 0 - 2 Crystal Palace (90')

As is telling from his seven consecutive starts in the last three weeks, the Jamaican has become a mainstay in the Reading side under Brian McDermott, although now in midfield rather than defence, occasionally showing why Chelsea shelled out the (relatively) big bucks for him in the summer.

Hector, who is no stranger to proving his mettle out on loan (he was sent on loan 11 times before making the grade at Reading), spoke about the same in this interview with the Guardian, which is certainly worth a read.

Lucas Piazon:

Appearances: Huddersfield Town 3 - 1 Reading (90'), 8.3.2016

Piazon, as he has been throughout the season, is in and out of the team and in the same period in which fellow loanee Hector made seven starts, was called upon only in a single game.

Tomas Kalas:

Appearances: Middlesbrough 3 - 1 Cardiff City, Middlesbrough 2 - 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers - 4.3.2016 (both 90')

Like Piazon, Kalas has been on the fringes of the Boro side that currently sit third (with a game in hand and a point behind second-placed Brighton) in the Championship, firmly losing out on his right-back spot to Emilio Nsue Lopez and given the nod at centre-back only on the occasions of injury or rotation.

John Swift:

Appearances: Brentford 3 - 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers, Rotherham 2 - 1 Brentford, Brentford 1 - 2 Charlton Athletic (all 90'), QPR 3 - 0 Brentford (76')

Swifty has been getting regular game-time with the Bees, who continue to languish further down the Championship table, currently occupying 17th place. He did, however, grab a brace in their 3-0 win against Wolves.


Mario Pasalic:

Pasalic hasn't seen a single minute of action in just over a month, struggling with injury and fitness woes, but he was the focus of the latest edition of Chelsea's 'Steps Up' series, focusing on players out on loan. It makes for an informative interview, to say the least.

Jeremie Boga:

Appearances: Rennes 4 - 1 Nantes (10'), Rennes 2 - 2 Lyon (44')

A change in management for Rennes has turned out for the worse for young Jeremie Boga, who is finding starts, or significant minutes hard to come by, with the French side choosing to blood promising youngsters of their own, such as the highly-touted Ousmane Dembele.

Boga hasn't done much wrong, taking his chances when he is given them, as he proved with his late equaliser versus Lyon, when he was brought on at half-time for Yoann Gourcuff. It's been the story of Boga's season, really. He has shown flashes of his immense talent when brought on late in the game, but has never managed to amass a string of starts; the fact that he was played out of position for some of them certainly didn't help.

Christian Atsu:

Appearances: Malaga 1 - 2 Valencia (15'), Deportivo 3 - 3 Malaga (90'), Malaga 1 - 0 Sporting Gijon (4')

After an initial injury lay-off, Atsu has been struggling to hold down a starting spot in the Spanish side.

At least we know he's eating healthy.

Jordan Houghton:

20-year-old Houghton, after a loan spell at League One side, Gillingham, earlier this season, was recently loaned out to League Two promotion candidates, Plymouth Argyle on an initial month-long emergency loan. His manager didn't hesitate throwing him straight into the mix after just two training sessions, handing him a start and a full 90 minutes in their 2-1 loss to Accrington Stanley. He was later interviewed by the Plymouth Herald, in which he lamented their loss whilst appreciating the home support.

Juan Cuadrado:

Appearances:

Serie A: Juventus 1 - 0 Sassuolo (90')

Coppa Italia: Internazionale 3 - 0 Juventus (90')

Champions League: Juventus 2 - 2 Bayern Munich (90')

Cuadrado, voted the club's MVP for the month of February, has worked his way back into the side after a brief spell of substitute appearances. With all the whispers of Antonio Conte wanting him back next season reeking from every corner of the internet, who knows, maybe we haven't seen the last of Cuadrado in a Chelsea shirt after all.

Nathaniel Chalobah made a 4-minute cameo in Napoli's 3-1 victory over Chievo and continues to appear front-runner for most pointless loan of the season, while Stipe Perica was given 19 minutes off the bench in Udinese's 2-0 loss to Frosinone.

Marko Marin:

Appearances:

Trabzonspor 1 - 2 Osmanlispor, Konyaspor 2 - 0 Trabzonspor, Trabzonspor 1 - 0 Mersin Idmanyurdu, Trabzonspor 0 - 2 Besiktas (all 90')

The German Messi is enjoying his most successful loan spell of his Chelsea pseudo-career so far in the league of the many 'spor'-s, and has been a key player for Trabzonspor this season. Looks like he may have found a permanent home!

Kidding. Here's the real stuff:

Kidding again. Okay, for real, here's his most recent 'goa'l:

Kenneth Omeruo:

Appearances: Kasimpasa 2 - 1 Antalyaspor, Sivasspor 1 - 0 Kasimpasa (all 90')

Like Marin, Omeruo seems to be having a good season in the Turkish Super Lig and the chances are high that his loan deal turns into a permanent one, come the end of the season.

Victorien Angban:

Appearances: STVV 1 - 2 Zulte-Waregem, Club Brugge 3 - 0 STVV (all 90')

Angban's situation at STVV is relatively simple. Being one of the more talented footballers at the club, he's a sure-shot starter when fit and available. Here's the catch, though - almost every time he looks as if he's going to string together a number of starts, he either gets injured or red-carded. Against Club Brugge on the 6th of this month, the 19-year-old picked up his fourth, I repeat, fourth red card of the season. Unacceptable from the promising Ivorian midfielder, even if he is only 19, who is repeatedly letting his team down this way.

Also, this was one game before STVV's final game of the season, a loss in which could see them relegated from the top flight. They ended up drawing the game 1-1 with Lokeren and survived by the skin of their teeth, on nothing but goal difference.

Despite everything, Angban was called up to the Ivory Coast national team yet again for their upcoming AFCON qualifiers. Hopefully, he'll see his first minutes for the national team this time around.

Cristian Cuevas:

Appearances: STVV 1 - 2 Zulte-Waregem, Club Brugge 3 - 0 STVV, STVV 1 - 0 Lokeren (all 90')

If nothing else, Cristian Cuevas, after a spell of unsuccessful loans was an important player for the abject Sint-Truidense side for most of this season and started 20 out of their 30 games.

Who knows where Joao Rodriguez is? I don't know where Joao Rodriguez is.

Wallace:

Appearances:

Campeonato Gaucho: Gremio 4 - 2 Gloria (90')

Copa Libertadores: Gremio 4 - 0 LDU Quito (67')

Wallace then sustained an injury which is still keeping him out.