You might not have noticed, but a rather remarkable thing has happened this summer. For the first time in over a decade, Vitesse Arnhem have begun their season without a single Chelsea loanee in their squad.
Every year since 2010, since our partnership got formalized, Chelsea B have had at least one Blues brother among their number — and sometimes even as many as six, like in 2013 (Kakuta, Van Aanholt, Cuevas, Piazon, Atsu, Hutchinson). A grand total of 29 players have crossed the channel, some more than once. But this year, it’s zero, and last year there was only one, Armando Broja.
So what’s going on? Is our partnership dead?
According to Vitesse technical director Johannes Spors, it is not. It is simply a case of not finding a good match between their squad needs and our player needs.
“The relationship with Chelsea is still good. What is called: excellent. Nothing has changed in our relationship. We still have the same focus and working method and there is frequent contact. We have seen in recent years that a rental construction can have value for both clubs.”
“I understand that this is noticeable, but the reason is simple. We have drawn up profiles for new players at Vitesse. We also spoke again with Chelsea about the rental options. But in the end, no match was found this season.”
It is somewhat ironic that this is a newsworthy development considering that at the height of this relationship, the Eredivisie were up in arms over Vitesse’s supposedly unfair advantage. And FIFA’s new loan rules will also be coming into effect next summer, inspired in part by this decade-long special relationship.
But normal service could be resumed as soon as the winter transfer window.
“We will continue to look at the possibilities together with Chelsea. We are proud of our relationship with Chelsea. Satisfied too. It is valuable for Vitesse to have close ties with such a big club, especially the Champions League winner. [...] Our scouting has already watched several matches of the Chelsea youth teams.”
“Winter is a time to talk to Chelsea and explore the possibilities. There can always be a player from Chelsea, but then everything has to fit sporty and be of value to both clubs.”
-Johannes Spors; source: Gelderlander via Google Translate
The report mentions the names Lewis Baker, Ethan Ampadu, and Tinjo Anjorin as players Vitesse may have been looking at, but who had other plans (Anjorin transfered to Lokomotiv Moscow; Ampadu’s on loan at Venezia; Baker, who already spent two years there, got stuck in Cobham limbo but is on the fringes of the first-team now). Charly Musonda, another potential return loanee, also gets a mention, but apparently he’s still working on his recovery from his long series of knee injuries.