Three years ago, in the summer of 2013, young Nigerian center back Kenneth Omeruo looked within touching distance of the Chelsea first-team. He had spent the previous 18 months at ADO Den Haag in the Netherlands, during the last 12 of which he played so well as to win the club's Player of the Year award. Earlier that season, he had helped Nigeria to the Africa Cup of Nations trophy, then joined the Super Eagles for the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil. While he had faced decent competition in the Eredivisie, it was during those internationals that he had made a name for himself. Before saying goodbye to his teenage years, he had already shut down Didier Drogba and Edinson Cavani, and held his own against Luis Suarez and Javier Hernandez. Quite Zouma-esque in that sense. It sure looked like Chelsea had found a gem. Then came the dislocated shoulder that changed everything.
It was against Spain in Nigeria's final match at the Confederations Cup that Omeruo picked up the unfortunate injury. In a decision that seemed questionable at the time, he decided against surgery so that he could partake in Chelsea's preseason and not jeopardize his chances of making the team ... but he ended up doing just that by opting against the procedure initially. He eventually underwent the knife in September, basically missing the first half of the season. He was then farmed out to Middlesbrough for the next 18 months (participating in the 2014 World Cup in the meantime) and then to Kasimpasa in Turkey last summer, further and further away from the parent club.
"It's been going really well. I am playing a lot of games. I have had a few injuries but nothing serious, just keeping me out for one or two weeks at a time. Generally I have been playing every game except when I have been injured or suspended."
"We have one of the best defensive records in the league at this moment so I can't really ask for more than that. We are fifth right now and we are pushing to finish in a Europa League position which is fourth spot."
Omeruo will have two more years left on his contract this summer. He's going on 100 professional appearances since signing for Chelsea, none of which have for Chelsea. Kasimpasa do have a buy-option on his loan, but they've apparently already made the decision not to take it up. So it will be once again decision time for young Kenneth, now 22.
"I just want to finish the season as well as possible and try and help Kasimpasa into a European spot. After that we will start thinking about next season. There is also the Olympics which I might be involved in."
-Kenneth Omeruo; source: Chelsea FC