Football Features

Gilmour or Gallagher? Every Chelsea loanee in the 2021/22 season ranked

By Harry Edwards

Published: 12:20, 16 December 2021


Chelsea have received a lot of criticism in the past for their use of the loan system but it has worked for them.

Whether it’s to send academy players away to gain experience ahead of a first team call-up, such as Reece James or Mason Mount, or to add value to their selling price, as they did with Marc Guehi in the summer, the Blues have made it work.

Of course, there have been some failures, players who have struggled to escape the loan system for several years like Lucas Piazon and Kenedy. But over the past few years Chelsea haven’t been as active in the loan market as they previously, infamously, were.

They have allowed some ex-loanees to leave, and focussed on utilising the system to give youth players game time with a genuine eye to playing them (though there are still some older stars who cannot be shifted on permanent deals). This season, they may not have the 42 loanees they boasted back in 2019, but Chelsea do still have 22 players out on loan.

The question is, who is making the most of their time away from Chelsea?

22. Juan Castillo (Birmingham)

Position: Left-back
Age: 21
League appearances: 2

On his fourth different loan spell away from Chelsea, there appeared to be a time when Juan Castillo would leave the club permanently but it still hasn’t come. This season he is spending his time in the Championship with Birmingham, however, he has played just two league games amassing 37 minutes. The majority of his playing time for the club has come for the U23 side.

21. Tiemoue Bakayoko (AC Milan)

Position: Defensive midfielder
Age: 27
League appearances: 9

One of the aforementioned older players Chelsea have had struggles shifting permanently, Tiemoue Bakayoko back at AC Milan after spending 2018/19 on loan at the San Siro. In Serie A he’s played nine times so far this season, but that has brought just 251 minutes, three starts and three yellow cards. He’s yet to play a full 90 minutes, or make it past half-time in a game he has started. Unfortunately things just haven’t worked out.

20. Matt Miazga (Alaves)

Position: Centre-back
Age: 26
League appearances: 8

A player who hasn’t made an appearance for Chelsea since 2015/16, Matt Miazga is now in Spain with Alaves and it isn’t going too well. The American started six of his first seven league appearances for the club after signing but saw Alaves concede eight goals including three on debut. He has played just one of their seven games since.

19. Tino Anjorin (Lokomotiv Moscow)

Position: Attacking midfielder
Age: 20
League appearances: 7

If things had gone differently, Tino Anjorin would be a lot higher, but his development has been hampered. On his first loan spell away from Chelsea, Anjorin joined Lokomotiv Moscow having been persuaded by Ralf Rangnick and he was slowly being bedded in. He scored one goal in 293 minutes across all competitions but has not played since October after suffering a broken metatarsal. His future is also in doubt according to reports, following Rangnick’s departure to Manchester United.

18. Kenedy (Flamengo)

Position: Left-winger
Age: 25
League appearances: 14

The 2021 Brazilian league season is over, but Kenedy will have another half-campaign with Flamengo when it resumes. Although he played 14 times for the club in the league since joining in the summer, Kenedy hasn’t really set the world alight, with just 477 minutes on the pitch. He has, however, scored one goal and recorded one assist in that time. A good squad player for Flamengo, but still not great in relation to other Chelsea loanees.

17. Thierno Ballo (Rapid Vienna)

Position: Attacking midfielder
Age: 19
League appearances: 8

Another player on his first loan spell away from Chelsea, Thierno Ballo joined the club in 2018 and impressed in the academy and U23s side before joining Rapid Vienna. Again, it’s been a slow start for Ballo but he is a teenager so won’t be a guaranteed first-teamer. He has started four of his eight league appearances though.

16. Dujon Sterling (Blackpool)

Position: Right-back
Age: 22
League appearances: 9

Dujon Sterling joined Blackpool late in the transfer window, when their campaign was already six games deep, but started four of their next six matches. However, it hasn’t been plain sailing as the right-back has once again suffered with injuries and illness. He has since returned to the starting XI but the performances aren’t quite there.

15. Karlo Ziger (Rudar Velenje)

Position: Goalkeeper
Age: 20
League appearances: 11

A name not many outside Chelsea will know, Karlo Ziger is a goalkeeper who appeared on the bench in the Champions League three times last season, and once in the Premier League. This season he is on loan at Slovenian side Rudar Velenje and has kept two clean sheets in 11 games, conceding 15 goals.

14. Ethan Ampadu (Venezia)

Position: Centre-back
Age: 21
League appearances: 10

Ethan Ampadu is unfortunately stuck in a position where he is yet to fully nail down where he plays. For Chelsea the view is probably for him to be a centre-back, where he has also been playing for Wales recently. But at Venezia he has been playing in a defensive midfield role, playing 10 of their 12 matches since his debut. Those two games missed have been due to suspension, including one very controversial red card. He is perhaps being let down by the team he is currently loaned to.

13. Danny Drinkwater (Reading)

Position: Central midfielder
Age: 31
League appearances: 12

It was a surprise when Danny Drinkwater secured his move to Reading at the end of the summer transfer window as fans thought Chelsea wouldn’t be able to shift him due to his wages. But the Championship was the destination for Drinkwater, and the former Premier League winner (with Leicester) has slotted nicely into the Reading midfield, recently scoring his first goal for the club.

12. Emerson (Lyon)

Position: Left-back
Age: 27
League appearances: 14

Emerson has been the starting left-back for Lyon since his arrival, missing just one game due to suspension (for a red card picked up in the 14th minute against Lorient). But there hasn’t been too much hype surrounding the Italian international, who appears to just be getting along at a club that is struggling.

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11. Henry Lawrence (Wimbledon)

Position: Right-back
Age: 20
League appearances: 17

On his first loan spell away from Chelsea, Henry Lawrence (a key utility man for the Blues at academy and U23 level) has been quietly going about his business. The 20-year-old has been playing mostly at right-back for Wimbledon in League One but has also featured on the left and in midfield, starting 11 of his 17 league appearances so far, recording one assist.

10. Baba Rahman (Reading)

Position: Left-back
Age: 27
League appearances: 17

Another left-back loanee, Baba Rahman has been ever-present for Reading since joining on loan, starting all 17 of his Championship appearances. And he has made the fifth-most tackles in the Championship this season with 52, averaging 3.06 per 90 minutes.

9. Jamie Cumming (Gillingham)

Position: Goalkeeper
Age: 22
League appearances: 20

Jamie Cumming is an excellent young goalkeeper and has played 20 of Gillingham’s 22 League One games since signing. Protected (well, not really) by a struggling defence, Cumming has conceded 27 goals in 20 games and kept three clean sheets, but his quality is perhaps shown best by his absence. In the past two games without Cumming in goal, Gillingham have conceded seven (with five coming against league leaders Rotherham).

8. Billy Gilmour (Norwich City)

Position: Central midfielder
Age: 20
League appearances: 10

If we were basing this off of quality, Billy Gilmour would easily be in the top two. But we’re not. The player who was named Man of the Match on his FA Cup debut, and full Premier League, Champions League and Scotland debuts, has been horribly underused at Norwich City. But when he has played Gilmour’s quality shines through and he is looking to finally be part of the team under Dean Smith.

7. Jake Clarke-Salter (Coventry City)

Position: Centre-back
Age: 24
League appearances: 13

Another player whose progress has been hampered by injury, Jake Clarke-Salter was doing okay at Coventry before suffering an injury – from which he is recovering at Chelsea. But before that he was part of the Coventry side that had risen to fourth in the Championship, keeping five clean sheets in 13 appearances with Clarke-Salter on the pitch.

6. Nathan Baxter (Hull City)

Position: Goalkeeper
Age: 23
League appearances: 6

Another excellent goalkeeper, Nathan Baxter has only recently made his way into the Hull City team but his performances are more than enough to shoot him straight up this list. In just six league appearances for Hull, Baxter has conceded four goals and kept three clean sheets, helping them jump from 23rd up to 19th. A true season changer.

5. Armando Broja (Southampton)

Position: Striker
Age: 20
League appearances: 12

Armando Broja spent last season on loan at Vitesse and scored 10 goals in 30 league matches as a teenager, so Chelsea decided to test him out in the Premier League this year. It has been a positive season so far for Broja, scoring five goals in 14 games across all competitions, at an average of 0.61 per 90 minutes. This is still a learning experience for the Albanian too, so Chelsea will arguably be getting more from Broja at struggling Southampton than they might at a better club in one of Europe’s other leagues.

4. Michy Batshuayi (Besiktas)

Position: Striker
Age: 28
League appearances: 12

Besiktas haven’t been at their best in the Turkish Super Lig this season and Michy Batshuayi has suffered a couple of injury issues, but the Belgian remains one of their top players. In 12 league appearances so far this season, the 28-year-old has scored six goals and recorded two assists, being directly involved in 0.78 goals per 90 minutes. There will be hopes that this is his last loan spell away before a permanent sale.

3. Ian Maatsen (Coventry City)

Position: Left-back
Age: 19
League appearances: 20

When Ben Chilwell was ruled out until the New Year due to injury, Ian Maatsen was the player many Chelsea fans were calling to return from his loan spell at Coventry City. The teenager has been impressive in the Championship this season, missing just two matches for Coventry since his arrival, playing both at left-back and wing-back. His performances have been so good that he’s reportedly caught the eye of Barcelona…

2. Levi Colwill (Huddersfield Town)

Position: Centre-back
Age: 18
League appearances: 17

Levi Colwill has been outstanding for Huddersfield in the Championship this season, a real leader at the back despite being just 18. Huddersfield have kept clean sheets in seven of Colwill’s 17 league appearances this season and he is a regular for the side, only missing out due to injury, suspension or the odd rest. And like a few others on this list, he’s on his first loan spell away from Chelsea. There may not be another one.

1. Conor Gallagher (Crystal Palace)

Position: Central midfielder
Age: 21
League appearances: 15

There was only going to be one number one. Conor Gallagher has been superb under Patrick Vieira at Crystal Palace this season, this third successful loan spell. Gallagher is a special talent, capable of playing both in a deeper central midfield role and further forward without hampering or hindering any of his qualities. Already this season he has six goals and three assists in the Premier League, with only five players directly involved in more goals – including Mason Mount. This looks certain to be his last spell away from Chelsea.

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