23 Chelsea players on loan is a good thing
The large contingent of players that Chelsea has out on loan right now seems to come under fire on an extremely regular basis, and whilst I can see why, I completely disagree with this criticism. Of all the things about Chelsea that fans are classically critical of, this is perhaps the one thing that I am perfectly happy with.
We currently have 23 players out on loan throughout Europe, some of them youth players, some of them older and with experience. With these many players on loan, we’d be capable of putting together two full starting elevens! Some even say that the best eleven that we could put out from this group would be able to finish in a respectable position in the league, and they’d arguably be right.
A team of Courtois, Kane, Kalas, Chalobah, Van Aanholt, McEachran, Kevin De Bruyne, Essien, Piazon, Kakuta and Lukaku, (for example) could do some serious damage. Hypothetically, if this team were to start every week for the 38 games in the season, I could see them finishing respectably in the EPL.
Leading on from this, the criticism is generally that we needn’t loan out so many players because many of them could stay at Chelsea and do a serious job for us this season. This kind of thing gets said more or less every time we hit bad form or drop points, so it essentially gets said most weeks.
There are, however, very rational reasons for sending 23 players out on loan. Take these players for example: Billy Clifford, Todd Kane, Sam Walker, Thorgan Hazard, Sam Hutchinson, Kenneth Omeruo, Jeffrey Bruma, Amin Affane, Jhon Pirez, Thomas Kalas, Patrick Van Aanholt, Wallace, Patrick Bamford, Gael Kakuta and Ulises Davlia.
I can’t see any of this lot being used in our first team due to our depth in certain positions or the fact that they are just not ready yet. Surely it is more beneficial for them to go out on loan, where they will have the experience of playing first team football, which is far better for them than sitting on the bench or in the reserves.
The rest of the players that are away from Chelsea right now are: Courtois, Kevin de Bruyne, Chalobah, Essien, Piazon, McEachran, and Lukau. These guys being away from Chelsea seems to be where most of the hostility towards the system comes from. I agree that each of these players would be able to make large contributions towards the first team this season in one way or another, but I want to question whether or not it is best for these players themselves to be at Chelsea right now?
I firmly believe, with the exception of Essien (who I can only assume went out on loan to get his wages off of the bill), that all of those players are better off being on loan, and will become better players for it. When they are done with their loan spells, they will come back to Chelsea with more experience and more quality than what they would have had if they had stayed at Chelsea this year.
All of them are showing true quality right now, something that they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to had they stayed here. It doesn’t make sense to have Courtois here while Cech is still number 1. Additionally, McEachran, Lukaku, de Bruyne and Chalobah have all been able to grow and showcase what they are capable of producing, which would never have happened had they stayed with us. Piazon was getting next to no minutes on the pitch, so surely it is better to send him somewhere he will.
There’s talk now of signing Luke Shaw (please-please-please-please-please) and then loaning him back to Southampton, similar to what we did with Kevin de Bruyne. I don’t know why a lot of fans look down on this idea. Why would you ever want so sign an awesome young player and then loan him out to a side where he will start every week in the PL instead of sitting on our bench or in our reserves? Madness.
It frustrates me when other fans mock the way we bring through youth and the amount of players that we send out on loan. Of all of those 23 loanees, I can’t find one that makes me question what the club are doing. I feel like there is a growing culture among the fans to criticise everything about the club, and it’s not surprising given some of the stuff that’s gone on this season. I think we need to control this mind-set a little when it comes to criticising certain things, our loaning procedure being top of my list.
The fact of the matter, I might add, is that most youth players don’t make it through to the first team these days, and this is the same at every club. I don’t expect more than three or four of those first fifteen players to be with us in five years time. Arsenal has an exceptional youth record, and although they may bring more players through their youth system than anyone else, this is still the case even for them.
Since Abramovic completed his transformation of the club into a top European team, AKA, spent enough money to create a squad and infrastructure that would secure our competitive future, the way that we handle youth has gone through a massive transition, of which we are now beginning to see the potential. There have been mistakes along the way (letting Matic and Stoch go have been my personal favourite gaffes), but I can understand the direction our policy is moving in and I’m excited for the future. Terry and Bertrand are our current club graduates, who both got loaned out incidentally, and I expect more to join this list soon.
One final point. We have a squad that’s full of quality, that is perfectly capable of performing, and that should in all honesty be competing for the Premier League. The reason that this isn’t the case is not because we have wrongly loaned out players. I don’t think the situation would be much different were any one of them with us now. There is stuff under the surface, hidden from our sight, and which we will never 100% know the facts about, that is holding us back. Tension, egos, the manager merry-go-round, disagreement, (fan) hostility, the Torres mess, a moronic hierarchy, instability, none or all of those. We can’t be sure of what is most significant. We have been in a steady decline since Carlo’s departure without a significant change in the quality of our players, and don’t let the fact that we won the Champions League fool you. This concern is part of a much larger topic, but for now, I would just say that we shouldn’t lay any share of the blame for the failures of this season at the feet of our loanees.