There was a time when Chelsea had enough loanees to fill at least three starting XIs.
The Blues used to cop a lot of criticism for their hoarding of talent on loan, keeping them in a cycle with no real path into the first team. Each summer, those same players were loaned out to the next club, with Chelsea hoping they could find a permanent buyer.
However, for the tonnes of Lucas Piazons and Wallaces, there was the odd Mason Mount or Reece James, and things are completely different now. With the new loan rules, restricting clubs to eight senior loanees (excluding club-trained players), Chelsea have had to cut their losses on a number of players in recent times and either sold for a loss or released at the end of their contracts.
That doesn’t mean Chelsea don’t have any loanees right now, however. The Blues do still have 21 players currently out on loan for the second half of the 2022/23 season, with some older names joined by a number of youngsters.
One name not among the list is Hakim Ziyech, who had looked set to join Paris Saint-Germain on loan on the final day of the January transfer window only to see the move fall apart due to Chelsea sending the wrong documents three times. It was a fiasco that angered both PSG and Ziyech, with reports claiming the former will not do business with Chelsea again.
But, of the 21 players out on loan right now, who’s doing the best?
We’ll start by looking at those players who have been on loan this season but returned in the January window and have not found new clubs (yet). Joe Haigh (Derby), Lucas Bergstrom (Peterborough United), Bryan Fiabema (Forest Green Rovers), Harvey Vale (Hull City), Ethan Wady (Woking) and Jayden Wareham (Leyton Orient) are all currently back at Chelsea for various reasons.
The January transfer window also saw six players make their first loan moves of the season, including Malo Gusto who was signed and the loaned straight back to Lyon. Also going out is highly-rated midfielder Cesare Casadei who joined Reading after initially signing for Chelsea from inter Milan in the summer.
There were also loan moves for goalkeepers Eddie Beach (Chelmsford), Teddy Sharman-Lowe (Havant & Waterlooville) and Max Merrick (Hanwell Town) as well as defender Bashir Humphreys (Paderborn) who made his senior Chelsea debut in their 4-0 FA Cup defeat to Manchester City.
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Today's team to face the Hornets at the Select Car Leasing Stadium ?
— Reading FC (@ReadingFC) February 4, 2023
Lacked game time
There is then a small group of Chelsea players who just haven’t got going this season, either through injury or just being out of favour.
- Tiemoue Bakayoko (AC Milan) – Is yet to play for the Italian champions this season and had been searching for a different move in January, but with Chelsea focussing on Enzo Fernandez, Bakayoko’s future was pushed to the wayside (like Ziyech).
- Xavier Simons (Hull) – The youngster has played just three games for Hull but is obviously impressing behind the scenes as the club wanted to sign him permanently in January.
- Dujon Sterling (Stoke) – Sterling has played just 10 games so far this season, missing over two months through injury.
- Tino Anjorin (Huddersfield) – The 21-year-old has scored two goals in eight league games for Huddersfield, but hasn’t featured since September due to an ankle injury.
- Romelu Lukaku (Inter Milan) – The highest-profile loanee, Lukaku’s return to Inter Milan just hasn’t worked out as he has suffered with injury problems, restricting the Belgian to 11 appearances across all competitions.
Romelu Lukaku ?? pic.twitter.com/6lmQSo9BF9
— Inter (@Inter) November 11, 2022
10. Malang Sarr (AS Monaco)
Malang Sarr was an interesting signing for Chelsea, even when you consider it was a free transfer, and spent his first season on loan at Porto. In 2021/22 he remained part of the Chelsea squad and has made 21 appearances so far without really impressing.
Back on loan this season, Sarr has been in and out of the Monaco team but breaks into the top 10 more due to the fact that Chelsea’s loanees haven’t been performing too well across the board. Making 12 appearances across all competitions so far, Sarr has managed just 612 minutes and seven starts.
9. Nathan Baxter (Hull)
Nathan Baxter is a strange case when it comes to Chelsea’s loanees as he is currently back at Cobham but hasn’t officially been recalled. Baxter is on his seventh loan spell away from Chelsea and spent last season at Hull too, with a reported option to buy this summer.
After a slow start to the season, Baxter got his chance as No.1 for Hull and in 12 games he kept one clean sheet with 21 goals conceded. But he suffered a serious ankle injury in November and returned to Chelsea for treatment, yet to feature for Hull since. Hull have also signed Karl Darlow on loan from Newcastle United to replace Baxter, but this loan still hasn’t officially been terminated.
8. Callum Hudson-Odoi (Bayer Leverkusen)
Injuries caused Hudson-Odoi’s career at Chelsea to stagnate slightly, falling behind his more senior teammates in the Blues pecking order, which led to his first loan move away. Finally getting his move to Germany, following previous links with Bayern Munich, Hudson-Odoi has been an irregular feature in the Bayer Leverkusen squad with 18 games across all competitions yielding just 1,020 minutes.
The Englishman, who is also reportedly set to switch international allegiance to Ghana, has one goal and one assist in those 18 appearances, scoring against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.
DERBY DAY WIN!!⚫️? pic.twitter.com/zjjcxrJ7HO
— Callum Hudson-Odoi (@Calteck10) November 9, 2022
7. Baba Rahman (Reading)
Reading are part of a close group in the Championship battling for a play-off spot despite being as low as 16th. But the Royals aren’t in a good run of form, and Baba Rahman hasn’t had the most standout of seasons.
The Ghanaian has played 18 games so far this season with 11 starts in the league, either at left-back or wing-back in a back three but has come under criticism at times from his own fans. He won over some of his critics with a decent performance against Manchester United in the FA Cup recently, but missed out at the weekend due to injury.
6. Henry Lawrence (MK Dons)
Henry Lawrence is on his second loan spell away from Chelsea, joining MK Dons after a year with AFC Wimbledon. The 21-year-old utility man operates mostly at right-back but has also popped up on both flanks as a wing-back, playing 26 games across all competitions.
However, he hasn’t been as much of a starter at MK Dons as he was at their bitter rivals, with just 10 starts in the league.
5. Sam McClelland (Barrow)
The young centre-back is on loan for the first time this season, spending the year with League Two side Barrow, and it was a decent campaign before injury hampered progress. Sam McClelland started all of Barrow’s first nine league matches this season which brought seven wins and four clean sheets before injury restricted him to just one appearance between October and February.
McClelland returned at the weekend in the 1-1 draw with Colchester United, and Barrow will be hoping his presence can lift them back up the table.
4. Jamie Cumming (MK Dons)
Back to Milton Keynes, Jamie Cumming is having a slightly better season than Lawrence, a regular start in between the sticks of MK Dons. The 23-year-old has been MK Dons’ first-choice goalkeeper since moving, playing 29 games across all competitions, conceding 40 goals and keeping seven clean sheets.
The latest clean sheet lifted MK Dons up to 19th in the table, a much-needed result in their fight against relegation.
3. Levi Colwill (Brighton)
Levi Colwill has played just 11 games for Brighton since making his loan move as part of the deal which saw Chelsea sign Marc Cucurella, but when he’s played he’s been mostly fantastic. Unsettled slightly by the move of Graham Potter to Chelsea, Colwill didn’t get his first Brighton start until November but played his way into Roberto De Zerbi’s plans, helping them keep a clean sheet in a 3-0 win over Liverpool.
Unfortunately, Colwill’s progress has been hampered by injury.
2. Ethan Ampadu (Spezia)
Ethan Ampadu is back in Serie A after spending last season on loan at Venezia, once again being sent to a struggling club. But the Welshman is, again, making a name for himself as a man for Spezia to rely on as they fight against relegation.
Starting all but one game in Serie A this season, Ampadu has appeared mostly at centre-back and defensive midfield for Spezia, thriving particularly in the latter role.
1. Ian Maatsen (Burnley)
One man is clear of all the other Chelsea loanees though, and Blues fans are crying for him to be part of their first-team next season. Ian Maatsen was always a left-back with promise, and showed it on previous loan spells at Charlton and Coventry, but suffered with the likes of Ben Chilwell and Marcos Alonso ahead of him in the Chelsea pecking order.
This season it’s Burnley and Vincent Kompany benefitting from Maatsen’s quality, with the Dutchman starting 23 games in the Championship including each of the past 13 matches. Burnley have won 12 of those games, storming clear at the top of the Championship table, with Maatsen picking up the Man of the Match award against Norwich last time out.
With four goals and four assists, there’s not much else Maatsen can do to show Chelsea he can be their left-back.
Ian Maatsen ?? pic.twitter.com/Bto04WDdM9
— Chelsea Loan Army (@ChelseaLoanArmy) February 4, 2023