Ethan Ampadu took a bold step last summer by joining RB Leipzig on loan. It was a decision as ambitious as it was risky, and unfortunately, it didn’t really pay off — shades of Nathaniel Chalobah’s loan to Napoli back in 2015-16, with Ampadu just barely seeing more action (277 minutes) than the now Watford midfielder did during that season (231 minutes).
While there is some value in such experiences, there is no substitute for actual playing time. And considering how little Ampadu played the season before under Sarri at Chelsea (less 300 minutes, to go with a little over 500 with the Development Squad), he’s very much in need of a better arrangement next season — by which time he will have turned 20.
Apparently, some moves in the background were already being made along those lines, but were scuppered by Norwich City’s relegation to the Championship. Commensurate with his talent, Chelsea are hoping to arrange a Premier League loan, and the ideal candidate for that has just confirmed their participation for next season.
Ethan Ampadu: Norwich City would’ve loved to loan him in for next season. DM role plus CB cover. But it isn’t going to happen.— Michael Bailey (@michaeljbailey) August 9, 2020
Chelsea now have a Premier League option, just down the road. So I believe a loan to Fulham is likely.#NCFC @TheAthleticUK
But, as pointed out by @chelseayouth, a move next door to Fulham, even if they’re willing, isn’t without similar risks as Leipzig. The Cottagers will be prioritizing survival rather than player development. And while every loan move carries with it that inherent risk, we can try to minimize it by placing him at a team like Swansea City, where manager Steve Cooper has already proven his willingness to play loanees (Conor Gallagher, Marc Guehi last season) even as they pushed for promotion from the Championship.
So if Ampadu to Fulham happens, a few things.— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) August 9, 2020
He's good enough to play PL football, but it comes with the same risks as Leipzig. 38 games, competition for places (CB or DM? Are they signing Reed?), a spell out of favour leaves him with maybe half that number. He needs to play. https://t.co/atnlHzPIRI
A loan to the second division may be seen as a step back, but if Ampadu plays a lot, it will prove more beneficial for his career than sitting on a Premier League bench.
As always, these decisions are not easy or simple. Good luck to us, and good luck to Ethan, who’s hopefully past his nagging injury issues as well.