Young players going on loan as part of their development at Chelsea is often seen as a necessary evil, but for at least one Academy youngster, it’s been a crucial part of a long-term plan by design. We’re talking about young goalkeeper Nathan Baxter of course, whom we’ve seen play the system like a fiddle for the last half-decade, with the ultimate aim of making the Chelsea first team by age 24.
Baxter went on loan at the first possible opportunity, choosing to drop all the way down to the seventh tier to get exposed to the rigors of senior (non-league) football at age 17. In the five years since, he’s worked his way up the pyramid ladder step by step, with a stint in the Scottish Premier League as well. And after last year’s solid but injury-shortened season at League One (third division) Accrington Stanley — he missed the last two months of the season due to a shoulder injury — the 22-year-old’s now set to test his mettle in the Championship with Hull City.
“I’ve been lucky enough to have some good experiences on loan. Not all goalkeepers get the opportunity to play 40 games in the National League at 18 and then League Two at 19. All of these experiences have helped me and the natural progression now, after being with Accrington in League One last season, is for me to play in the Championship. Each season, I’ve had to step up and prove myself in a new league and that is why I’ve come here because I want to try and prove myself in the Championship.”
“The prospect of testing myself in the second tier is an exciting one. When I first went out on loan to the seventh tier, it was always in my mind to try and follow in the footsteps of the likes of Jordan Pickford, Dean Henderson and Joe Hart. They’ve all come up through the leagues and it’s a common pathway for goalkeepers, so it’s up to me now to show what I can do at this level. I’m relishing the competition with the other goalkeepers here.”
-Nathan Baxter; source: Hull City AFC
The Tigers won League One last season and should certainly provide Baxter with plenty of challenges and opportunities to learn and grow in the second tier. And who knows, maybe the Premier League awaits next season?
Best of luck, Nathan!