For the last couple years, FIFA have been working on reforming the loan system, which has led to repeated scary headlines about Chelsea’s business going up in a puff of smoke. That is of course not the case — nowhere near in fact.
As we’ve talked about repeatedly as well, FIFA’s new regulations aimed at reducing the amount of “older” loanees and encouraging teams to develop their own homegrown talent was not going to drastically alter the shape of the Loan Army. And after last summer’s developments, we can quite comfortably conclude that the club already align with that sort of thinking — the days of Emenalo’s loan-n-trade petty-cash-generating project are long gone, even if we’re still dealing with its legacy.
In any case, today FIFA confirmed that the new loan limits will come into effect for next season (2020-21) — pending formal approval, though that’s surely just a formality — which will restrict the total (in+out) number of “international loans of players aged 22 and older” to just eight (8). This limit will then drop to six (6) by 2022, with no more than three loan deals allowed between any two teams at any given time.
FIFA’s limits, previously expected to be set at 21 but now relaxed to 22, will only apply to international loans at the outset, though they expect all the domestic FAs to comply within three years as well.
So, what does this mean for the current Chelsea Loan Army?
Chelsea have 29 players out on loan at the moment. One of those is Alvaro Morata, technically, but he’s already Atletico Madrid’s player for good. So let’s call it 28.
Of the 28, 14 are 22 or older at the moment.
Of those 14, 5 are on domestic loans so they wouldn’t fall under FIFA’s limits (at least not initially): Matt Miazga at Reading, Danny Drinkwater at Aston Villa, Jake Clarke-Salter at Birmingham City, Izzy Brown at Luton Town, Jamal Blackman at Bristol Rovers. The first three are under contract for two more years, Jamal and Izzy for just one more.
Of the 9 remaining, Nathan and Kenedy have contracts expiring at the end of the season and certainly Nathan at least is expected to stay in Brazil with Atletico Mineiro.
The 7 remaining oldies are: Victor Moses, Davide Zappacosta, Lucas Piazon, Baba Rahman, Mario Pasalic, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Charly Musonda Jr. Piazon’s loan is for two years, so he’ll still be around. Baba, Zappa, and Musonda have all been injured significant amounts, and thus will likely stay on Chelsea’s books. The others all have buyout clauses and are likely to be leaving one way or another.
Assuming those 4 — Piazon, Baba, Zappacosta, Musonda — remain on international loans next season, we would still have four more available slots to fill with players we can’t jettison (Bakayoko or Lewis Baker, for example) or others coming up in age.