Officially official, Chelsea have signed a player on loan for the first time in three seasons. As much as Chelsea adore the loan system in terms of player development — we’re due for another ~30 players out on temporary assignments once again — we hardly ever utilize the system going in the other direction.
But today, Mateo Kovačić joins from Real Madrid and will be here for the season, presumably in part due to the relative bargain that Real are getting with the Thibaut Courtois transfer. Neither player wanted to stay at their respective clubs, but while Courtois had just a year left on his contract, Kovačić remains tied to Real until 2021. He will be expected back at the end of the season (unless we indoctrinate him, like Everton did with Lukaku).
Chelsea’s history of incoming loanees is not exactly stellar. The last two players who were here on temporary contracts were Falcao and Pato for the full and half season, respectively, in the season that shall not be named (2015-16). Before that, we have to go back almost ten years, to January 2009, when Ricardo Quaresma (then 25) joined for six months from Inter Milan. Maniche had also joined for six months three years prior, in January 2006.
“We are very happy to welcome Mateo to the Chelsea family. He is a perfect fit for us this season, his style is well suited to how Maurizio wants to play and we are sure he will prove to be a valuable asset for the club.”
-Marina Granovskaia; source: Chelsea FC
Chances are, Kovačić will have a greater impact than all four of those Roman Era loan players combined.
“I am really happy and excited to be here at Chelsea. It is an amazing feeling. I will try to do my best for this club. It is a new league for me, the beginning is always tough but I am sure the coach and my new team-mates will help me and I am looking forward to a great season.”
-Mateo Kovačić; source: Chelsea FC
Welcome, Mateo! Let’s win some things!