Playing for a club like Chelsea is a dream for many young footballers all over the world.
The route starts playing for Chelsea’s youth teams and once you outgrow youth football, depending on your skill level you’ll go on loan to a Championship side, team abroad, on the rare occasion a team in the premier league and on an even rarer occasion you’ll break through to the first team.
Some have the ideas of living the high life in London and excited to make their dreams come true, only to be shipped off the Holland, Germany or lesser known cities in England like Stoke or Bristol.
After multiple new fresh starts and new managers, new systems it seems players eventually just want a place to call home and aren’t too bothered if that isn’t in West London.
2+ Year Loan
It seems the players that particularly showcase their talents in a particular team, country and league have the possibility to remain in that team so they can continue their development within a team that they are familiar with and starting for. Thibaut Courtois was the first instance where we saw the benefit from spending more than 1 season in a particular team. In July 2011 Courtois joined Chelsea for a reported €9 million, signing a five-year deal and it seemed it wasn’t time to displace Cech but Chelsea knew they had a gem on their hands and essentially loaned him to Atletico Madrid to nurture and improve by playing regularly in one of the top 3 leagues in the world and with David De Gea moving to Manchester United it seemed like perfect timing. Courtois would spend 3 seasons in Spain to eventually come back to Chelsea but under one condition, he would be the number 1 keeper. The same way a young Cech displaced a decorated Goalkeeper 10 years his senior in Carlo Cudicini it was now Courtois displacing a Petr Cech who was 10 years his senior and the rest is history.
Andreas Christensen is another who is benefitting from a 2-year loan, so much so that Chelsea were desperate to bring him back to Stamford Bridge but couldn’t due to terms of the loan agreement. Despite not being able to bring him back, it is clear some sort of communication has been made to Christensen who prior to his loan move signed a new 5-year extension to 2020 and is seen as the successor to John Terry.
Charly Musonda is another next big thing but unlike Piazon he is delivering at the top level playing for La Liga team Real Betis. Musonda moved last January and made 16 appearances and became a revelation to the Betis supports. With former Chelsea man Gus Poyet as the Real Betis manager, this year could be something special for Charly Musonda and will hopefully push him into the Cheslea first team next year.
Life on loan
Unfortunately for young footballers at Chelsea, Courtois’s story is the exception and not the norm.
A player who has the typical story of a young Chelsea player is Lucas Piazon.
In a recent interview Lucas Piazon said “’I’m tired of moving abroad. One, two, three loans, maybe that’s enough. It’s time for me to stay somewhere more than one year. When they know you’ll stay whatever happens, people look at you with different eyes. If I had the chance to go for more than one season, I’d do it.”
Piazon is now on his 6th club since moving to Chelsea from São Paulo. With similar playing style to legend Kaka, Piazon had a lot of excitement around him and joined Chelsea with a lot of potential. 5 loans later to 5 different teams it seems Piazon is fed up with life on loan and seeks the security of a team and doesn’t seem too adamant where. Being quoted saying “’It makes no sense to go on loan all the time,’ he said. ‘It is not good for any player in my experience — or the experience of the other boys. I don’t see it as a positive thing any more. To be in a different place every year is not good for me at 22.” With so many players facing the same fate as Piazon I’d be very surprised if most of the 31 players Chelsea have on loan don’t feel the same way.
It seems like Chelsea are just buying players early and cheap and hoping they turn into something good instead of paying £50+ million in the future but another statement made by Piazon I feel is true for other loanees is “’I still want to make it at Chelsea, of course,’ he said. ‘I came to Europe to play for Chelsea and want to do it. Maybe I can come back in the future.”
Essentially, young players at Chelsea have 3 routes, they could turn out like Lucas Piazon, Romelu Lukaku or Thibaut Courtois. Go out on loan for most of their career and eventually settle for a lesser team, leave Chelsea and go to a team willing to invest in you and nurture you and flourish elsewhere or go on loan, realise your potential and come back to play for the first team.
But maybe there has been a change from the board as according to the Telgraphh Chelsea passed up on Gabigol to ease Tammy Abraham’s pathway. Abraham’s been on form for Bristol City and if he keeps it up he may force Conte’s hand. Time will tell.