In Part 1 of this series, I discussed Jamal Blackman’s career at Chelsea and talked about what his future in football looks like. For those who haven’t read the introductory piece on this series, a different player will be the subject of a new piece every day. I am beginning with goalkeepers and working my way up the pitch, with each position group being sorted in order by the way in which they appear on the club’s website.
As I continue on with the loan army series, I come to Nathan Baxter. Baxter surprisingly has more in common with the subject of Part I, Blackman, than many would believe. Baxter and Blackman are not just two of the three shot-stoppers in the Blues’ loan army, but they also joined the club in the same year. Baxter—much like Blackman—is a well-known name around Chelsea circles despite never making an appearance for the club’s first team. He signed for the Blues back in 2006 at the age of eight.
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- Chelsea loan Army: How Ian Maatsen has got on at Burnley
- What’s next for Chelsea’s Conor Gallagher as asking price revealed?
- The next man up for Chelsea: Left back Ian Maatsen
- The next man up for Chelsea: Center forward Mason Burstow
What does Nathan Baxter’s Chelsea career look like?
Baxter has spent a majority of his young career in the youth ranks at Cobham. He spent a decade in the academy where he won a few honors—including the FA Youth Cup and UEFA Youth League. When he was just 17, Baxter made the jump to “professional” football when he joined Metropolitan Police of the Isthmian League. While there, he made 19 appearances in four months. He impressed the Blues so much that he was recalled in January.
Baxter moved up to the National League and joined Solihull Moors until the summer of 2017. He continued his good showings, keeping three clean sheets in his first four appearances and playing a total of 17 matches for the Moors. This earned him another season in the National League the following year with Woking. This loan proved to be his most involved to date, where he played more minutes (4,320) than any other Chelsea loanee in 2017/18.
The growth did not stop there.
Chelsea rewarded Baxter for his progress and sent him to Yeovil Town for the following campaign. It is there on the opening day of the 2018/19 season that Baxter made his Football League debut at the age of 19. Baxter set a club record for the Glovers after keeping six consecutive clean sheets across all competitions, spanning 10+ hours. He proved to be one of England’s most underrated youngsters during his time at Yeovil, racking up numerous awards at the end of the season.
Baxter then moved north and joined Ross County of the Scottish first division in 2019. He suffered a shoulder injury which hurt the Staggies’ league standing right out of the gate. Despite this, the English goalkeeper returned to start just under half of the club’s matches during the 2019/20 league campaign.
Baxter returned to England after his loan expired in Scotland. From there, the Blues loaned Baxter out to League One’s Accrington Stanley for the current season. The 22-year-old spent significant time between the sticks for the ‘Owd Reds (19 games) this season, keeping eight clean sheets during that span. Baxter was set to see out the season as Accrington Stanley’s No. 1 keeper until shoulder surgery ruled him out for the remainder of the year. He is now back at Chelsea recovering.
This begs the question: what does Chelsea do with Baxter this summer?
When Baxter is fully recovered from his injury, he should spend next season out on loan. The 22-year-old is on track to be one of the Blues’ most promising young prospects. His contract runs through the summer of 2023 and at the rate he’s progressing, Baxter is well on his way to earning a new deal. While his long-term future is dependent on his continued growth as a player, there is certainly no reason for either side to part ways at the moment. It’s not too farfetched to see Baxter remaining at Stamford Bridge next season either as an emergency third goalkeeper.
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. Part three’s subject is goalkeeper Jamie Cumming.