This had been coming. Bundesliga side Fortuna Düsseldorf have confirmed that they’re cutting Lewis Baker’s season-long loan short and sending him back to London “with immediate effect.” Yikes.
Fortuna Düsseldorf und Premier-League-Club @ChelseaFC haben sich auf ein vorzeitiges Ende der Leihe von Lewis Baker geeinigt. Der 24-jährige Mittelfeldspieler wird die Fortuna demnach mit sofortiger Wirkung verlassen und zu seinem Stammverein zurückkehren.#f95 | ⚪️ | #Baker pic.twitter.com/AUoRNSpGBQ— Fortuna Düsseldorf (@f95) January 22, 2020
Baker got into Düsseldorf’s midfield straight away in the summer, playing 104 minutes in his August debut, a 3-1 win over Villingen in the DFB-Pokal. They followed that up with an identical scoreline in their season opener against Werder Bremen.
Everything went downhill from there, for both Düsseldorf and the 24-year-old Chelsea midfielder. Fortuna wouldn’t win another match until 19 October while Baker’s minutes fluctuated and eventually culminated in a run of being an unused sub that lasted from late October until 7 December.
And there is the odd matter of what happened with Baker ahead of Fortuna’s last match before the Bundesliga’s long winter break. Speaking to Bild, Düsseldorf manager Friedhelm Funkel had some fairly interesting words that don’t reflect well on the midfielder.
“He’s in London and supposedly sick, I can’t check that. Normally he would have been here. I don’t know what the reason is that he isn’t here.
“What I do know is that Lewis Baker wasn’t in the squad against Union Berlin [before Christmas] and should have trained with the others at ten in the morning.”
–Friedhelm Funkel; source: Bild
This was Lewis’ seventh loan of his professional Chelsea career, previously spending time with Sheffield Wednesday, MK Dons, Vitesse, Middlesbrough, Reading, and Leeds United. It’s unclear what is next for him, with 2.5 years still to run on his contract. One would assume another loan, but it’s hard to imagine anyone being too eager given his poor production and apparent unexcused and unscheduled absence.
Sometimes these things are blips and nothing more than a symptom of a bad fit, but Baker will be 25 in April, and quickly running out of time to live up to the potential that was a staple of his youth.