Chelsea’s Cherubs: Four youngsters who could have bright futures at Stamford Bridge

With a whopping twenty-seven players out on loan this season, you could be excused for thinking that there are some slightly questionable morals involved in the way Chelsea are signing players.Even aside from the astonishing number that are on temporary leave from the club, Chelsea are not exactly famed for their excellent youth promotion.Nevertheless, despite their strategic linkage with Vitesse being investigated by the Dutch FA, it has not been without benefit of the receiving clubs, with a number of their players seeing impressive levels of development over the past season away from Stamford Bridge.Chelsea loanee Christian Atsus progression at Vitesse recently earned him the clubs player of the season, but the Blues own a few other glimmering gems among the current crop at the Dutch club as well as elsewhere.The following slides detail the progression of a further four of this seasons finest Chelsealoanees.

#1 Lucas Piazon

Signed from São Paulo in 2011, attacking-midfielder Lucas Piazon has been another beneficiary of the Vitesse Arnhem link this season, having spent the whole term there. His second loan spell away from Chelsea, following half-a-season at Malaga last campaign, has truly lit up the Eredivisie.

With 11 goals in 29 appearances, Piazon has accumulated the 3rd highest Squawka Performance Score at the club – even higher than Christian Atsu’s, making you wonder whether he felt he should have won the Player of the Season award instead.

As well as this, his Squawka Best awards outnumbered his Worst awards by 18-2, as he demonstrated his ability to contribute to all parts of attack. Able to score a variety of goals, both inside and outside the box and take penalties, the game away to Heerenveen best demonstrated this, where Piazon grabbed two goals and an assist as Vitesse came back from two goals down to win 3-2.

Piazon Goals/Attempts vs Heerenveen

Piazon Goals/Attempts vs Heerenveen

Quite whether this will be enough to make his claim for a starting spot in the Chelsea line- up is another issue – especially considering the plethora of players in his position already in the squad at the moment – but one cannot deny that Piazon has certainly planted that seed of thought in Jose Mourinho’s brain for next season.

#2 Patrick van Aanholt

Now 23-years-old, Chelsea’s Dutch left-back Patrick Van Aanholt has very much paid his dues whilst part of the Chelsea youth system, with his current spell at Vitesse Arnhem his fifth loan spell since his joined the club in 2009. And as he begins to grow out of the loan cycle and begins to look for a more permanent role at a club, perhaps his impressive spell at Vitesse could be the convincing needed to replace an ageing Ashley Cole in Chelsea’s first team.

An almost constant fixture in the Vitesse team this season, Van Aanholt’s loan spell back in his home country has proven to be by far his most productive and the youngster really has a reputation as a top-class attacking left-back in the Erevdivise. With the fourth highest performance score of 678 in the whole squad, he fits very well into the modern-day mould of attacking full-backs, demonstrated by the 28 chances he created this season for his teammates and the 38 shots he has had this season. Admittedly, with a quite poor shot accuracy rate of 42%, he is not necessarily “good” at shooting, but his willingness to get forward and contribute to the attack is very impressive.

 Patrick Van Aanholt

However, he shows the multiplicity of his skills with the way that he also contributes to defensive work, with one of his most impressive performances having come during a 1-1 draw with Roda JC in one of his first starts for Vitesse. Putting in a man of the match performance, 3 tackles and 4 interceptions showed how he is also capable of putting in the work to keep the score down at the other end, despite his confidence in going forward.

#3 Kenneth Omeruo

Following an impressive season last year at Eredivise team ADO Den Haag, 20-year-old defender Kenneth Omeruo was again farmed to earn his stripes in January, as they decided a spell on Teeside with Middlesborough in the Championship would be more effective than the turning up to Chelsea’ Cobham training ground every morning. Already a regular in the Nigeria squad despite being only 20-years-old, Omeruo has tread a well-travelled cliché of a road for young, foreign imports, with attempts to “toughen him up” in the English lower leagues.

And thus far it would seem to be proving a success. Despite bringing in three centre-backs in January – including fellow Chelsea loanee Nathaniel Chalobah as well as making Daniel Ayala’s loan from Norwich permanent – Omeruo has coped well with the competition for starting spots. Having made 14 appearances thus far, he has achieved a total performance score of 217, which isn’t bad considering his comparably fewer appearances for the Championship club. Yet although these appearances are fewer in total, Omeruo has, completed the full 90 minutes on over 85% of occasions.

As expected, it has been at the back where he has made the real difference. With an average of 12 defensive actions per match – the same number as teammate Jonathan Woodgate – and winner of 3 Squawka Best Defence awards thus far, it is no wonder he has been compared to as a young William Gallas by the Chelsea faithful.

Quite whether he ever becomes as important to Chelsea as Gallas was is another question. What with Kurt Zouma coming in full-time in the summer, how long a man who is very much holding his own in the full Nigeria squad is willing to wait for his opportunity is questionable.

#4 Nathaniel Chalobah

Another one who has been on Teesside since January, the English centre-back/centre-midfielder Nathaniel Chalobah is another example of a successful Chelsea loanee, as he comes to the end of his third loan spell away from West London – despite only being 19 years of age. Previously at Watford and Nottingham Forest, Chalobah has been a regular fixture alongside Grant Leadbitter in the Boro midfield, providing excellent balance to Leadbitter’s more attacking instincts.

Arguably Chabolah’s most obvious skill is in the number of duels he wins, with his particularly impressive tackling ability well reflected in the statistics. Having won the ball with 68% of his tackles and over half his headers, he has proven to be a formidable force in the centre of the park at the Riverside, and having committed far more fouls that suffered them, he has an ability to break up play that Jose Mourinho may very much appreciate.


Indeed, you can certainly see Chalobah becoming a very functional defensive midfielder in the future. A relatively poor take-on percentage and an average of four defensive actions per game – joint highest amongst Boro midfielders – you would say that his defensive work is better than his offensive. However, something he must improve on if he wishes to continue in midfield rather than defence is his passing percentage, with a relatively meagre 78% pass completion rate which must be improved if he passes do not go beyond the recycle function.

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Edited by Staff Editor
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