Chelsea recently captured the 2016-17 Premier League title, celebrating a dominant campaign for the second time in the last three years. As Antonio Conte looks to the future, and with a Champions League schedule to consider, the squad at Stamford Bridge will need to be revamped to deal with an increased workload next season.
Fortunately – and rather controversially – Chelsea boasts a plethora of talent in its loan ranks, with 37 players scattered across Europe waiting for their chance. As Victor Moses showed this season, these loaned-out players could fit right in, but how would a lineup comprised entirely of Chelsea loanees fare in the Premier League?
Here’s how such a team could look:
Goalkeeper Matej Delac
Christian Atsu and Baba Rahman are tasked with wing-back roles, while Lucas Piazon, Tammy Abraham, and Bertrand Traore would do their best to replicate the scoring exploits of Eden Hazard, Diego Costa, and Pedro before them.
This team’s greatest strength is in its balance, with few players playing truly out of position apart from Atsu, who has been tasked with more defensive duties here.
An argument could be made for a mid-table finish, provided Abraham – who scored 26 goals in 48 matches this past season with Bristol City – can score regularly in the first division, and that Christensen – who was brilliant this year with Borussia Monchengladbach – can provide the same sort of defensive reliability as his first-team peers David Luiz, Cesar Azpilicueta, and Gary Cahill.
It’s fun to think about – and if you’re a fan of another of England’s top six teams, you’d certainly love to see Chelsea give it an actual try – but the reality is that there isn’t enough quality in these loan ranks (just yet) to really have a go at the title. What is more likely, however, is that Conte affords a few of these men a chance at first-team football next season.
Christensen seems most ready to make the jump, and with John Terry leaving at the end of the season, he’ll likely have an opportunity to step in and compete for one of the team’s centre-back spots. Atsu could provide cover for Willian, if the Brazilian does indeed leave Stamford Bridge, but Rafa Benitez is keen on keeping the Ghanaian on Tyneside permanently. A £6-million fee has reportedly been agreed between the two sides over the transfer of the 25-year-old.
Finally, Abraham also looks ready for a step up in competition level, but Chelsea will likely send him on loan to another first-division outfit to give the 19-year-old some experience first.
The reality of Chelsea’s loan situation is that very few of the players contracted to the club will ever see meaningful minutes with the Blues. Instead, most will likely be sold at a profit in a policy that has garnered criticism. Professional Footballers’ Association chief Gordon Taylor dubbed Chelsea’s methods a “warehousing of players,” and he’s not entirely wrong.
Piazon, for example, featured regularly for Vitesse, Eintracht Frankfurt, Reading, and most recently Fulham, but is unlikely to add to his 16 minutes in Chelsea blue anytime soon despite joining the club five years ago.
“It is not good for any player in my experience – or the experience of the other boys,” the Brazilian said last September. “I don’t see it as a positive thing anymore. To be in a different place every year is not good for me at 22.”
Traore, arguably the crown jewel of Chelsea’s on-loan army, has also expressed his displeasure with the club’s loan policy.
One way or the other, Chelsea will continue to reap the benefits of a system that has drawn the ire of so many.
Published at Fri, 19 May 2017 15:00:38 +0000