Chelsea goalkeeper Nathan Baxter, who’s been playing the Game of Loans on expert level ever since his first foray into the unknown depths of the non-league away from Cobham at the age of 17, has always been quite clear that he’s doing it all with a view towards an eventual Chelsea first-team spot. Perhaps by age 24, he once said, targeting the same age that Kepa Arrizabalaga was in his first year at Chelsea, after joining the club in what is still a world record fee for a goalkeeper.
Baxter will be turning 24 in November incidentally, though if Hull City have their way, he will be collecting first-team minutes with them again, and this time not on loan. Tigers manager Shota Arveladze, who’s been in charge since January (not long after their new owners arrived), has been making no qualms about their intentions.
“Look, if we were not open to signing him permanently, I would not play him, that’s the message to everyone that we’re happy and we want him. We’re happy with the goalkeepers, that’s the way it is.
“But again, there are two parts to the wheel. I hope he wants to be with us and Chelsea have to decide what they want to do with him.”
-Shota Arveladze; source: Hull Live
Baxter played second fiddle to the more experienced Matt Ingram at the start of the season, but worked his way into the starter’s job by November. He was unfortunately ruled out for most of February and March with a hand injury, but has been impressing again since his return, keeping a clean sheet against Reading this weekend to move Hull up into 18th place in the Championship: 8 of Hull’s 14 wins in the league have come in the 14 games that Baxter has played. They have just 6 wins from the other 30 games.
There are other teams interested in Baxter, too — West Brom, for example — but he also still has a year left on his Chelsea contract as well. And who knows, the timing might work out serendipitously for him, given Kepa’s situation and potential departure this summer. Looks like he will have thinking to do and decisions to make.