Chelsea loan army: Keep, loan or sell? Series introduction

Chelsea’s academy has gained worldwide notoriety over the last decade or so for producing some of Europe’s finest footballers. The current Blues first team has a plethora of academy graduates that make up its core and there are also stars shining elsewhere. Young phenoms want to come to west London and learn under the best. Look no further than the Blues’ own Xavier Mbuyamba—a talented Dutch defender—who left Barcelona’s academy after one season in order to fulfill his dream of playing with Chelsea.

The Blues have gotten a lot of press regarding their academy and development of young players, not all of it being positive. Chelsea has come under fire by the media, coaches and even former players for its approach to youth development. The club sends players out at record numbers to go and cut their cloth elsewhere. Things don’t always work out, but to the Blues, professional experience in different countries or leagues trumps that of playing for developmental sides. This has led to the group of loanees at Chelsea being dubbed the loan army.

Regulations around the game have seen the Blues cut the size of their so-called loan army significantly. Nevertheless, there are still 34 players under contract with Chelsea who play their games in different colors—a staggering amount in the eyes of opposing clubs. Some of these individuals will go on to set the world on fire, while others will plummet into irrelevancy. Despite the different paths each player takes, the club is committed to developing each individual into the best player they can be.

Over the course of the next month and some change, I will evaluate the careers of each member of the Chelsea loan army. I will take a look at their career path, their recent form and ultimately decide what the Blues should do with each player. This will be classified into three categories—keep, loan or sell—based on what I believe the club should do with each during the summer transfer window. These are not predictions as to what Chelsea will do with each player, so some are destined to be wrong, but I will take into account the best interests of both the player and the club itself.

The analysis will begin with the goalkeepers, continue on with the defenders and move to the midfielders before finishing up with the forwards. A new installment of the series will drop each day until I have analyzed the future of every loan player currently employed by Chelsea. Further, the players at each position will be sorted in alphabetical order, as they’re listed on the club’s official site. The series will begin with Jamal Blackman on April 2 and end with Ike Ugbo in early May.

Remember to check back with The Pride of London each and every day as I dive into the largely uncharted world of Chelsea’s famous loan army. Which loan player are you most excited to see written about? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!