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Is Chelsea’s Loan System Failing the Club?

Pratik Neupane

What did Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku, and Mohammed Salah all have in common? Okay, You probably guessed it right. They were all brought by Chelsea, loaned out, sold and they all came back and scored against Chelsea last season. With a Loan System unlike any club in England in terms of huge volume of players. There is none denying that Chelsea loan system is a fascinating experiment but is it still working for them? For their players? Is stockpiling talent unethical or just a part of the modern game? ​How many players do you think did Chelsea have on loan last season? It was 37 players sent out on loan. A genuinely baffling number. I mean Just think About it! From Michy Batshuayi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek to Jamal Blackman and Charlie Wakefield, the players spending the season away from Stamford bridge are very different in terms of their profile and potential. Every youth prospect represents a certain level of risk. So their scouting program acts as a kind of portfolio management and risk diversification. For every De Bryune you sign at youth Level, there likely will be 4 or 5 Josh McEachran. But that needn’t necessarily be a problem. If you send players on loan and they do well their value increases, in the meantime you can check on their progress and evaluate whether they might make the grade. Take Patrick Bamford for example, the striker was brought for 1.5 million pounds, spent 6 seasons out on loan, before being sold for 6 million pounds once it was clear he wasn’t good enough for Chelsea. or Nathan Ake, who joined the club at 16, and only made a handful appearance for the senior side but was sold to Bournemouth for 20 million pounds, He scored a goal against them last season but Chelsea have covered themselves with a 35 million pounds buy-back clause, If he goes on to fulfill his potential.Patrick Bamford and Nathan Ake Through covered wages and loan fee onto a big old pile of cash for a whole load of other young players, It’s not hard to think why Chelsea are on to a winner, plus it’s not that all the players sent out on loan are destined to be consigned to the scrappy. Victor Mosses, written off by the most, seemingly just waiting to be sold, has come back into the fold and made himself a regular at Stamford Bridge. While Thibaut Courtois and Andreas Christensen have benefited from time out on loan as well. Thibau Thibaut Courtois and Andreas Christensen But there is an Elephant in the room, In fact, there are three, Lukaku, De Bruyne, and Salah. You can only have 11 players on the pitch and you are buying ready-made top-tier talent like Morata for huge bucks and also bringing through a lot of talented youngsters. Somethings gotta get sacrificed. Inevitably, It’s the less established names that have to take the hit and they can go to burn Chelsea later down the line. And that’s when you starting to wonder what the point is When Chelsea was bidding 45 million pounds more than what they sold Romelu Lukaku for a few years ago When Kevin de Bruyne scored the only goal in the City-Chelsea Clash and Mohammed Salah sticks one passed them at Anfield! Sure, Make a profit on young players helps to balance the books and keeps you in line with financial fair play(FFP), sure they have made some good bunch of young player through loan development but when you are letting standing talent slipping through the net, isn’t that largely irrelevant? Especially when you spend all the profit on buying another elite player who may or may not be as good as the ones you let go. Was splashing 40 million Pounds on Bakayoko and loaning out Ruben Loftus-Cheek really a good idea? Beyond the stats and balance sheets, there are also some less tangible aspects to the whole thing, When things aren’t going well in the game, seeing an academy prospect come and lit up the pitch can really light supporters’ mood. And what about future prospects? Since the 2001-2002 season, Andreas Christensen is the only academy graduate to play full 90 minutes of the game for three consecutive league matches. Would you really go to Chelsea knowing their track records of dealing with youngsters? Chelsea might have won 4 FA Youth Cups in a row but this success hasn’t translated to their senior side yet. And they have built their reputation for letting off talents. It makes the supporters, pundits, and people who just want to see young players rise through the ranks angry. Chelsea’s Youth team winning the FA Youth Cup The Club are perfectly within their rights to carry on as they have been doing. Ethically putting profit in front of player development might well be less than sound but as long as it works for them financially they will press on with it, And as for the cases of Salah, De Bruyne and Lukaku will convince Chelsea to give more young players a chance, only time will tell!​

Pratik Neupane

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