After enjoying a good season on loan at Reading in 2018-19, it finally looked like Lewis Baker was going to have his breakthrough at the highest levels as he made his switch (loan with an option to buy) to Fortuna Düsseldorf in July. But that relationship appears to be at the breaking point halfway through the season-long loan.
Despite a bright start, things started going downhill fairly quickly, as Baker found game-time hard to come by at a club fighting a relegation battle, even in a league famed for giving opportunities to youngsters. He’s made just two appearances since early October, totaling 81 minutes, after starting seven of the team’s first eight games in all competitions.
Various theories have floated around regarding his omissions from the starting XI: from poor performances (which was observable) to being unable to cope with the tactics (which wasn’t so observable). However, more unpleasant details have emerged now, with Baker apparently skipping a cool-down session after the last game before the winter break (when he wasn’t even part of the matchday squad) and still missing on Friday as the team resumed preparations for the second half of the season. While he’s officially said to be ill, it’s not sitting well with the locals that he’s still in London. And the head coach is still a bit miffed about the skipped training session in December, too.
“He hasn’t apologized for that so far. I was very pleased that players like Bernard Tekpetey and Kasim Adams were in the stadium, came straight into the dressing room after the whistle and enjoyed themselves, even though they were not in the squad. I would have liked to have seen this behavior from Lewis Baker as well.”
—Friedhelm Funkel; source: RP Online via Google Translate
Based on those quotes as well as their club sources, the report goes on to claim that Lewis Baker will not be travelling with the rest of the squad to Marbella for their winter training camp and instead will be sent back to Chelsea.
For a player who was so highly-regarded early on in his career, the hopes and aspirations of playing for Chelsea seem like a far cry now. While Chelsea will undoubtedly help him find a new club for the time being, Baker will have to work hard to reach even a modicum of the heights that were expected of him.