Chelsea legend Gianfranco Zola recently returned to football management, setting up shop in England's second city at Birmingham City.
The Blues (I know!) aren't doing too badly (thus the controversy around Gary Rowett's sacking) but they did lose Zola's first game in charge to promotion-chasing Brighton & Hove Albion thus possibly highlighting a few improvements that could be made to City's squad. Given Zola's obvious connections to Chelsea, a loan or two probably wouldn't go amiss.
"If we believe that in Chelsea there might be players that can help, then we can ask. We have a good relationship with them."
-Gianfranco Zola; source: Birmingham Mail
A deluge of rumors in the two days since those quotes were made have not followed, but the Birmingham Mail have helpfully listed no less than five Chelsea youngsters who could be on Zola's shortlist. It is the time for wishlists after all. They are, in alphabetical order: Ola Aina, Todd Kane, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Dominic Solanke, and Marco van Ginkel.
Van Ginkel is perhaps the farthest-fetched of the names as he seems set on a loan back to the Eredivisie again. Solanke meanwhile is still in contract-awkwardness land and previous rumors claimed that he wouldn't be loaned out until agreeing to a new one (at lower wages than he's supposedly demanding). But the other three sound like reasonable options, especially Loftus-Cheek who's fallen far down the midfield pecking order and could certainly use some playing time. Todd Kane's coming back from an ACL injury and will need proper rehab minutes while Ola Aina could be loaned out should Chelsea procure another (backup) full-back in the January transfer window. And maybe add Patrick Bamford to the list of potential targets?
Birmingham City did just spend £1m to make Lukas Jutkiewicz's loan permanent as they try make up the small gap towards the playoff positions in the second-half of the season. I'm sure if Zola comes knocking for further reinforcements at Chelsea, we will not be turning him away.