In some news that may have gone amiss despite a quiet deadline day for Chelsea, long-time members of the club’s ‘Loan Army’ over the years, Islam Feruz and Joao Rodriguez were released on free transfers.
A precocious talent in Celtic’s academy, Feruz was signed for £300,000 in the summer of 2011 and pegged for greatness at Stamford Bridge. Blessed with pace and no dearth of natural ability on the ball, it’s somewhat of a tragedy that it’s come to this for Feruz. An array of failed loans at Blackpool, Mouscron (Belgium), OFI Crete (Greece), Hibernian (Scotland) and a bizarre move to the Russian second division that fell through at the eleventh hour have all contributed to his lack of development.
On the other hand, there’s Joao Rodriguez, who never spent any time with the Chelsea youth teams (apart from a pre-season) and joined a year after Feruz. He barely spent any time on the pitch in six straight loan spells spanning across as many teams, four countries and two continents but finally seemed to have caught a break in the Mexican second tier, last season. His form there saw an upgrade to promotion-chasing Tenerife, in the Spanish Segunda Division, for whom he featured but did not impress enough for a longer loan deal.
To arrive at the conclusion that this pair of youngsters should have been cut loose years ago is, of course, logical but also simplistic if nothing else. There are several factors involved when it comes to dealing with players perpetually farmed out on loan but it’s important to remember that the players themselves aren’t obligated to sign any contract offers presented to them. Nevertheless, here’s hoping these two can finally find some stability in their careers and go some way in showing why they were on Chelsea’s books.
In addition to these two departures, 20-year-old Charlie Wakefield also left the club to join Coventry City on a permanent deal. Wakefield will join up with current Chelsea loanee and former academy teammate, Dujon Sterling as well as Adi Viveash, who used to manage the Chelsea U18s and U21s. Charlie was due to join Stevenage on loan in the summer of 2017 but recurring muscle problems kept him out for a long time, forcing the deal to be cancelled. Wakefield only began to train in February last year and has featured in the Premier League 2 this season, although he had been training with the first team on occasion. Perhaps this Instagram post will help shed some light on the struggles the youngster has faced.
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Life is a mental test for everyone. We all go through struggles, pain & suffering at some point, asking ourselves “why me?”. There’s two types of people... people who let there own mental state take over and go into a negative mode, or there’s the people that are mentally very strong & deal with anything given to them. I’ve had the worst luck possible over the last year where the situation has been completely out of my control and could of caused me to go either way for sure. Injuries have taken there tole, meaning I’ve gone off the radar.. not allowing me to prove to everyone what I can do. But by having the mental strength you need, which I have, and only looking at the situation in a positive way, telling myself it’s all for a reason and it happens to the ones that are mentally the strongest and can deal with these difficult situations and that’s why we are the ones that get given the toughest tests. This is just a message to say what ever you go through in life, you’ve got to see the situation through and stay in a healthy mindset, don’t let the situation defeat you, let it make you stronger. I’ll soon be back on the pitch and back on top. I’ve never doubted myself. I’m coming for the top
He’s done remarkably to recover and will now don the Sky Blue of Coventry for at least the next 18 months. He hasn’t gone there to join the development squad, instead he’ll be in contention for a place in Mark Robins’ squad to face Gillingham on Saturday. Coventry has always been a conducive environment for youngsters to develop and come through the ranks, now Charlie must - and will - do all he can to secure a longer deal for himself.
Good luck to all of Charlie, Joao and Islam!