In the early 2000s and 2010s, Chelsea gained notoriety for routinely loaning a massive bulk of their young academy products across Europe. At any point, Chelsea could have as many as 38 players out on loan under Roman Abramovich’s ownership and while there were few success stories, a large majority of the Chelsea “Loan army” never ended up breaking into the first team. The problem with CFC’s loan strategy under Abramovich is that everyone knew, including often the players sent out themselves, that they had very little realistic chances of breaking into the then very established senior team.
Fast forward to the present and under new ownership the Blues loan army is definitely not as controversial as it previously was, but it still remains strong as ever. However, instead of being a clear cash cow for the club fuelled by academy products and flop CFC signings, loans now seem to be play bigger part of the Blues’ revised player development strategy. With the new vision of Todd Boehly, Behdad Eghbali and Co to build for the future with a primarily young squad, it’s not farfetched to believe that some of the young talents currently out on loan for the West London outfit can eventually break into the first team.
Here are Chelsea’s 3 best young Blues on loan so far this season.
Being dubbed “the next Neymar” is not an easy moniker to live up to. Yet, that’s the reality of 18-year-old Angelo Gabriel’s potential. The young Brazilian signed with Chelsea this summer from Santos, making his first appearances for CFC during the US preseason tour. Despite his impressive preseason with limited opportunities, the youngster was loaned out to RC Strasbourg in Ligue 1.
Upon arriving to Strasbourg, Angelo did not immediately hit the ground running, settling for appearances off the bench in his first three games to grow into the team. Recently though, the Brazilian winger has gained the confidence of manager Patrick Viera, starting four of his last five games. His performances have improved with the increased game time, providing an assist in Strasbourg’s 1-0 win against FC Metz and winning the team’s player of the month as well as Ligue 1 young player of the month for September.
Although one assist in ten league appearances may not seem like Neymar numbers yet, it’s easily to see why Angelo is so highly rated when you watch him play. The 18-year-old is always trying to make something happen when he’s on the ball and has all the tools to do so. His dribbling in tight spaces is excellent but he’s not an excessive dribbler. He uses his skill on the ball more as a means to an end in terms of creating spaces to find the best pass for his teammates.
It’s the passing ability and movement that makes him truly special, using his left foot to play the ball into dangerous spaces and often drifting centrally from the right wing to be involved in final third play. The Brazilian brings a different skill set to any pure wingers that CFC currently have as he’s better at creating concrete chances in the final third. We’ve seen how creative playmakers can instantly increase the levels of this young Chelsea team with the emergence of Cole Palmer. Angelo will be another young gem to keep tabs on.