Plenty of teams loan out players so that they can gain first team experience. This is often a way for younger players to develop when they have that certain something, but aren’t quite at the level required to make first team appearances. While most teams will loan out their players to a host of different clubs, in recent years Chelsea has been using Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem as a farm system for a good amount of their loanees.
This season the Blues have loaned out six players to Vitesse and three of those players have made appearances in 7+ matches this term with two of those players being regular starters. With the departure of Wilfried Bony to Swansea and Marco Van Ginkel to Chelsea, it looked like last years fourth place team would struggle a bit, but 13 games into the season, they’re atop the table by a point and Chelsea’s loanees have been instrumental in their form. Four of the six players that Chelsea has loaned to Vitesse are under the age of 23, and among those young talents are some players who have garnered plenty of attention in their own right before being purchased by Chelsea and shipped out to the Eredivisie. These young players are a great fit for an exciting Vitesse team that only has three players on the roster older than 26.
Among those players is the 19-year-old Brazilian Lucas Piazón, who has drawn comparisons with 2007’s Ballon d’Or winner Kaká. Since his days at São Paulo, the young Brazilian winger has gained critical acclaim for his passing ability, shooting, finishing, vision and flair. Though Piazón does not see the resemblance between he and Kaká, their similarities do extend beyond their physical appearance and the fact that they both played for São Paulo. Like Kaká, Piazón has excellent vision and fantastic technique and finesse. He plays in a more advanced role than Kaká and can sit behind the striker or act as a second striker where he is able to make short and quick passes rather than holding onto the ball. While he has the technique and elegance of a Brazilian player, he employs a rather direct style of football, which likens him to that of a false 9. So far this term he has started 11 of 13 matches, scored 5 goals, recorded 4 assists, dribbled past 2 opponents on average per match and has averaged 3 key passes per game. With the prolific Wilfried Bony and creative Van Ginkel gone, it has been Piazón at the forefront of Vitesse’s attack. He is leading his team in goals and assists and is surely making Mourinho and other managers take notice of what has been an excellent loan spell thus far.
Patrick van Aanholt has also made 11 appearances for Vitesse this term and the 23-year-old Dutch left back seems to have finally found a home after Chelsea loaned him out to four different teams before settling on Vitesse. At 175cm, the quick left back operates as more of a wingback, but has been quite solid in defense. While he certainly wont find a place to start at Chelsea because of Ashley Cole and Ryan Bertrand, he may opt for a permanent move to Vitesse where he can play in his native Holland. The young Dutchman is a smart defender, who passes very well, likes to dribble and holds onto the ball extremely well. He’s scored a goal and recorded an assist and averages the second most tackles on the team at 2.4 per match. He is completing 84% of his passes and winning 68% of his duels while creating a chance per game. He’s been quietly lifting his side from the back and could even be played as a defensive midfielder. While the chances of him finding first team football at Chelsea are quite slim, it certainly doesn’t hurt his stock to be playing as well as he has been and his form could prompt interest from other clubs.
Another notable on loan Chelsea player is 22-year-old French winger Gaël Kakuta. In 2007 Kakuta was signed by Chelsea to play for their youth team and he quickly impressed. He was named Academy Scholar of the Year and Academy Player of the Year and scored 12 goals in 24 appearances for the youth side. In 2009 he became the youngest Chelsea player to appear in Champions League competition and then manager Carlo Ancelotti tipped the young winger to be the future of Chelsea and praised his performances throughout the season.
Like Van Aanholt, Kakuta has been subject to a long series of loans and has been with 3 different teams before settling with Vitesse where he has been since the 2012 season. He’s failed to impress with Vitesse this term and has fallen out of favor. So far all 7 of his appearances this year have been as a substitute. In the last 4 years he hasn’t had much playing time at all and hasn’t played more than 60 matches, which has caused him to criticize Chelsea’s loan system. The most appearances he made in a season were 26 and that was last season with Vitesse where he scored a goal and had six assists. The former 2010 Golden Player of the U19 Euros has found it difficult to find the form that had gained him so much acclaim, but if he can do so then Vitesse will have a great raw talent to work with, as he has been praised for being “the complete package” but this remains to be seen.
The other three players on loan from Chelsea are Christian Atsu, Sam Hutchinson and Cristian Cuevas. These three players have only made six appearances in total with five of them coming from the diminutive Ghanaian winger Christian Atsu who has scored a goal and made an assist in those caps.
The recent amount of loans to Vitesse has caused great unrest in the Eredivisie and harkens back to when Watford signed 10 players on loan from Udinese because the two clubs shared the same owner. Chelsea’s loaning spree to Vitesse could prompt probing from Dutch football chiefs if the English club does decide to loan out three more players to Vitesse in January like they are planning to. Currently there is no restriction on the number of players a Dutch team can sign on loan from other leagues, but this could very well change in the coming months. Chelsea’s owner, Roman Abramovich, is known to be very close with Vitesse’s former owner, Merab Jordania, and this could be a reason for the large amount of Chelsea players being loaned to Vitesse, though it is worth nothing that a few weeks ago the club was sold to Aleksandr Tsjigirinski. Regardless of the scrutiny from other Dutch clubs, this partnership seems to be working out quite well for Vitesse and Chelsea.
If the Blues do wind up shipping out another 3 players in January then Vitesse could have up to 6 of their 11 starters being Chelsea products, which begs the question is Vitesse slowly becoming Chelsea’s B team? Over the last two years Vitesse has made approximately £25 million selling Alexander Büttner, Marco Van Ginkel and Wilfried Bony to Manchester United, Chelsea and Swansea respectively. They do produce talented players, but their involvement with Chelsea could stunt the development of their homegrown players in the long run.
If they want to keep their run of good form going, their next match is against 12th place Go Ahead Eagles and this should be an easy win for Vitesse, who have beaten Ajax, Groningen and Heerenveen while keeping some of the league’s best scorers in check.
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