Why Chelsea owners are  to blame for Chelsea’s loan failures

Why Chelsea owners are  to blame for Chelsea’s loan failures

Chelsea’s transfer strategy over the last 18 months has been heavily criticised and has yielded a slide down the table rather than a push for a first Premier League title since 2017.

The Blues have taken a major step backwards since Todd Boehly became the club’s owner in 2022, although the future does look bright considering the vast number of talented youngsters currently employed by the west London outfit.

They are seriously lacking in the experience department, but Chelsea have so many future stars in their ranks that long-term failure seems extremely unlikely.

The current midfield core of Enzo Fernandez, Moises Caicedo, Romeo Lavia, Lesley Ugochukwu, Carney Chukwuemeka and Conor Gallagher is already very strong, while Andrey Santos and Cesare Casadei are both regarded as extremely promising players too.

Wesley Fofana, Benoit Badiashile and Levi Colwill are three of the best U23 centre-backs in world football, and Cole Palmer has emerged as one of the breakout attackers in the English top flight this season.

The signs are extremely promising, but Chelsea are stagnant right now and their policy of signing the top young players across world football means that some will fall by the wayside.

The aforementioned Ugochukwu has already struggled for minutes since arriving from Rennes in 2023, while Chelsea have so many young players in almost every position that player development may be limited.

The beauty of Brighton & Hove Albion’s system (the one that Chelsea are evidently trying to copy) is that youngsters are given the opportunity to play regular football.

While Chelsea are trying to cut out the middleman by signing players directly from South America or France, they expect immediate results and have overloaded their squad with too many youngsters.

As a result, many were sent out on loan for the 2023-24 season as there simply wasn’t room for them to be given meaningful minutes in the first-team at Stamford Bridge.

However, the choice of destinations was poor and Chelsea have paid the price for yet more incorrect decisions in the transfer market.

Chelsea’s loans have failed this season

Loaning out young players in order for them to experience regular senior football is a staple of virtually every football club – especially Chelsea.

However, things have not worked out this season.

So far, four high-profile loanees have already returned to the club following failed loan moves.

Andrey Santos joined Chelsea from Vasco de Gama for €12.5 million in January 2023 and he soon gained worldwide attention following his incredible performances for Brazil’s national team at the U20 Copa America.

He remained in his homeland until pre-season, where he linked up with Chelsea. Santos impressed in a defensive midfield role during their tour of the USA, but the Blues opted to loan him to Nottingham Forest for the campaign.

The problem was, Forest later signed both Ibrahim Sangare and Nicolas Dominguez on Transfer Deadline Day, and Santos slipped down the pecking order. He mustered just two appearances for Nottingham Forest and was recalled at the start of January.

Santos didn’t even appear in Forest’s matchday squad in the final nine Premier League matches of 2023.

David Datro Fofana was also recalled from his loan spell at Union Berlin after scoring two goals in 17 appearances for the club.

The Ivorian wasn’t a regular starter in Germany and was recalled by Chelsea before being sent on loan to Burnley. It remains to be seen if Vincent Kompany will use him regularly as the Clarets battle relegation.

Chelsea’s failed loanees 2023-24

Player Club Games Goals Assists

Andrey Santos Nottingham Forest 2 0 0

David Datro Fofana Union Berlin 17 2 1

Cesare Casadei Leicester 25 3 2

Diego Moreira Lyon 9 0 0

Cesare Casadei’s time at Leicester City came to an end on 19 January when Chelsea recalled him following a difficult spell in the Championship.

The Italian midfielder split opinion amongst Foxes fans, but most viewed him as not quite good enough to be given regular minutes. His height and aerial ability was a useful asset in the second tier, but Casadei was unable to cement himself as a regular at the King Power Stadium.

Finally, Diego Moreira became the fourth Chelsea loanee to be recalled in January as the Blues ended his poor stint at Ligue 1 side Lyon.

The Portuguese winger made just nine appearances for the club and failed to score or assist during a torrid time in France.

He also cannot head out on another loan due to the fact he played for Chelsea in the Carabao Cup in August, meaning Moreira will spend the rest of the season in the Blues’ U21 side.

Chelsea’s successful loanees

While the aforementioned four players have been recalled, some of Chelsea’s loanees have enjoyed productive seasons – notable Bashir Humphreys (Swansea City), Omari Hutchinson (Ipswich Town), Harvey Vale (Bristol Rovers) and Romelu Lukaku (Roma).

Humphreys has been a regular at centre-back for Swansea, Hutchinson has mostly been an impact substitute for Ipswich but has three goals and three assists as they chase promotion, Vale’s versatility has seen him become a favourite at Bristol Rovers and Lukaku has 15 goals for Roma.

Furthermore, Kepa Arrizabalaga started the season as Real Madrid’s first-choice but an injury in November allowed Andriy Lunin to step in and Carlo Ancelotti was impressed by the Ukrainian.

Kepa has started two of the last three La Liga matches, but he was on the bench for three consecutive league games after returning from injury as Lunin performed well.

However, Chelsea’s loan decisions simply haven’t been good enough this season and that could be catastrophic given their youngsters need regular minutes to develop as players amid serious competition for places at Stamford Bridge.

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