By the end of his two-year loan adventure in the Eredivisie, Chelsea Academy graduate Lewis Baker helped Vitesse accomplish something they had never before done in their 125-year history. Winning the Dutch Cup was Baker’s ultimate goal for the season, and having achieved that while scoring more goals than all but one player on the team, he’s now ready to come back home and make his impact in England.
"Overall I think Chelsea are happy with what I did [on loan]. There’s still aspects of my game that I could carry on working on. I need to keep working day-in-day-out. The past two years that I have been away on loan have been fantastic."
"The achievements I have made have been unforgettable but we need to just carry on now and keep going as far as possible in my career. [...] I think it has been fantastic to move away and learn different things but I want to be back in England."
"You do miss little things about home. You do sometimes feel a little bit far away. For me, the two years away were fantastic and I am always open to suggestions to see who comes in but it would be great for me to play more in England."
"Chelsea have got into the Champions League again so they are going to need to get players into their squad. There are going to be a lot of games. I just want to carry on playing football as much as possible. I love playing, I want to do it as much as I can."
-Lewis Baker; source: Goal
Baker has so far fully bought into the Chelsea loan madness and made the most of his time at Chelsea B. Now aged 22, he’s the latest youngster to approach the point in his career when the tough and cold decisions have to be made. He’s spent the last three seasons out on loan (Sheffield Wednesday, MK Dons, and two years in the Netherlands), only to arrive at the same crossroads where so many have before and even more will after, the crossroads where there are no easy or obvious choices and all it takes is one mistake to undo a career.
On numerous occasions during his time at Vitesse, Baker showed that he is ready to take the next big step in his career by becoming a regular in a top European league. On other occasions, he showed that he needs development but at a more challenging level. Prospects of playing time at Chelsea don’t look great at the best of times, and with N'Golo Kanté, Nemanja Matić, Cesc Fàbregas, Nathaniel Chalobah already here and possibly joined by Tiemoué Bakayoko (and/or others) this summer, they are unlikely to get markedly better. That’s not to rule out Baker from impressing in pre-season — he’s never worked with Conte, after all.
Do we loan him out again? Does he want to go on loan? Does he stay? What’s the best option? We would love to see him take a starring role one day at Stamford Bridge just as he used to in the youth teams. Could he be one among the many to make it? He certainly has the potential, but there are so many other factors at play, it’s impossible to realistically count on such outcomes.
Still, we hope...