Chelsea’s ‘loan army’ are never far from the headlines at Stamford Bridge with the Premier League leaders sending in excess of over 30 players out on loan year on year.
For Chelsea it’s an excellent business model, helping the club continue to make money and fund their first-team transfers by charging teams small loan fees to take their players for the season.
Not only does it give Chelsea a chance to earn back some of the money they originally paid for these players, it allows them to further their horizons and continue their development as they bid for first-team football at Stamford Bridge.
The perfect example of Chelsea’s use of the loan market can be seen from the signing of Thibaut Courtois, who joined the Blues back in 2011 from Belgian side, Genk for just under £8 million.
After joining the club he spent three seasons away from Stamford Bridge on loan at Atletico Madrid, where he was given first-team football that allowed him to become one of the most promising young keepers in Europe.
That came at a cost for Diego Simeone’s side, who were forced to pay loan fees each year, which by the end of his time in Spain, had all but covered the £8 million that Chelsea paid Genk.
By the time Belgian shot-stopper made his first appearance for Chelsea under Jose Mourinho in 2014, dislodging club icon Petr Cech, he had essentially cost the Blues nothing, aside from his wages.
Courtois returned to Chelsea ready made for first-team football and is now thought to be a transfer target for Real Madrid. Should Chelsea decide to sell the player, they’ll be able to make a huge profit on the Belgian, highlighting their strong use of the loan market.
Perhaps the biggest story from this season is Chelsea’s and Antonio Conte’s decision to recall Nathan Ake in January after the young Dutch defender impressed during the first half of the season at Bournemouth.
The one side of this decision Chelsea fans are seeing is one of their own returning to the club, rather than the board splashing the cash on a foreign signing that will struggle to settle and have an immediate impact.
In the Championship this season, Isaiah Brown started the season on loan at Rotherham, where he was getting his first taste of senior football in England, having spent the previous campaign on loan at Vitesse.
Over the course of his time with Rotherham, Brown scored three league goals in 20 appearances but was considered as one of their main attacking threats, along with the likes of Danny Ward, as the club fought bravely against relegation.
It was a kick in the teeth for the struggling Championship outfit when Chelsea terminated the loan and Brown moved on to high-flying Huddersfield, where he has already scored three goals in five appearances.
The move, on paper, looks a great one for Brown, playing in a team full of confidence, something that has left him thriving. But, there are two sides to every transfer. David Beddows of the Rotherham Advertiser explained the hole the attacker has left in the squad.
Izzy Brown was highly thought of at Rotherham. I think Paul Warne appreciated his willingness to leave London and try and develop his game in unfamiliar surroundings in Yorkshire and he’s doing just that. He showed glimpses of Premier League quality in his time with at the New York Stadium.
It wasn’t always easy because he played in a struggling side and therefore couldn’t always impose himself but he was a dangerous ball carrier and a lurking threat. Rotherham would have loved to have kept Brown until the end of the season and although they have undoubtedly missed him, his departure can’t be given as the reason for their prolonged struggles.
For Bournemouth, Ake’s departure has dislodged what was an impressive season in their second year in England’s top flight.
Since Ake has returned to Chelsea, Bournemouth are yet to win following their 3-0 defeat in the FA Cup against League One outfit, Millwall. In their last four league games, they’ve shipped 13 goals and have been dragged into a relegation battle.
From looking near enough safe and avoiding ‘second-season syndrome’ they’ve been forced to look over their shoulder for the remainder of the season.