Chelsea’s Loan Army operate on a slightly smaller, and also more local scale compared to our heyday — partly by design, and partly due to FIFA’s new regulations — with fewer loanees overall and a relatively smaller proportion of them trying their luck outside of the English pyramid.
But on a weekend when all football in England was canceled, those brave few in far away lands took center stage, so let’s check in with them and see how they’ve been getting on.
Don’t worry, we won’t talk (too much) about Romelu Lukaku, though that’s mostly because he’s been injured and has missed Inter Milan’s last four games including this weekend’s 1-0 win over Torino. The 29-year-old is expected to return after the international break.
He has a goal and an assist in the three games he has played, though as far as a long-term stay is concerned, Inter, who were recently fined by UEFA for FFP violations, have cautioned against assuming too much about any sort of outcome beyond this season.
“We want to get the best performance out of Lukaku, and then at the end of the season we will sit down and talk about him with Chelsea. I don’t know if a change of coach means that his return is automatic, it’s difficult to predict today.”
-Beppe Marotta; source: Sky Italia via Yahoo!
Over on the red half of Milano, Tiémoué Bakayoko has not come close to featuring for league-leaders and defending champions AC Milan, and is expected to keep occupying that frightening, liminal space between states of being (h/t: Socko) for the foreseeable future.
Staying in Italy, we have a debut for Ethan Ampadu with his new team, Spezia, who, in accordance with our express wishes, played the 21-year-old in defense, on the right-hand side of a back-three. Ampadu was taken off with 20 minutes to go and the score tied at 0-0, only for Spezia to concede a late winner the home side, Napoli. The 1-0 defeat leaves Spezia winless in five straight, after an opening day victory over Empoli.
A little further west of there, we find AS Monaco, where Malang Sarr’s making an impact, though not necessarily the impact anyone would like him to make. Just a couple minutes after arriving as a substitute in last night’s game, Sarr managed to injure Vanderson, who had to be taken off.
Monaco still managed to win this match, 2-1, against Olympique Lyonnais, with Sarr having now featured in four of the six games since joining, starting twice. He did have a tough time of it alongside the rest of his team in a 4-2 defeat to Troyes a couple weeks ago, but other than that half-time hook, it’s been going pretty okay otherwise.
Malang Sarr's first big contribution for Monaco is to injure Vanderson, arguably their best player in 2022.— Robin Bairner (@RBairner) September 11, 2022
Over in Germany, Callum Hudson-Odoi’s still looking for his first win in the colors of Bayer Leverkusen after three games, two of which he has started, including Saturday’s 2-2 draw against Hertha Berlin and the midweek 1-0 defeat to Club Brugge in the Champions League group stages.
Cal does have one assist to his name already, but the team have been struggling overall, with just one win in six. They sit second to last in the Bundesliga, above only VfL Bochum, who have lost six of six so far.
Last but certainly not least, we jump over to America, where Gabriel “Gaga” Slonina has continued to showcase his excellence, with two clean sheets in the Chicago Fire’s last three games. He did get beaten on Sunday for the first time in 300 minutes in a 3-1 win over Inter Miami, though the opposition needed a penalty to do so (scored by former Blue, Gonzalo Higuaín, in fact).
Chicago are pushing hard for the MLS playoffs in the final few weeks of the regular season, but probably would have to win out in their last four games, and have other results go their way as well.
Slonina’s clean sheet in the 0-0 draw with Columbus last weekend was particularly impressive.