LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 25: Daniel Sturridge of Chelsea celebrates as he scores their sixth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Stoke City at Stamford Bridge on April 25, 2010 in London, England. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
Chelsea currently have quite a few promising youngsters out on loan, and with the squad likely to undergo major changes over the summer this is a big chance for many of the kids to make a impression on the Chelsea heirarchy. Today we're going to take a look at how they've been doing during their time on loan, and how their play may be affecting their standing with regards to Chelsea. The international break seems like a good time to take this look at them, as they've all now had a little bit of time to settle into their new surroundings and establish some sort of role with their new clubs. So without further ado...
Daniel Sturridge - Sturridge has been in excellent form since being loaned to Bolton. He's made five starts as a substitute appearance for the Wanderers since joining the club, and has found the back of the net four times already. He's been playing as a striker in a 4-4-2 formation, working primarily on making runs off of balls played to Kevin Davies. He really seems to be proving he has the ability to contribute at Chelsea, and his play may well make Drogba or Anelka expendable this summer.
Fabio Borini - Borini only joined Swansea earlier in the week, but he and former Chelsea youth Scott Sinclair immediately formed a lethal connection. Borini netted twice for Swansea in his debut, and nearly found the back of the net for a third when he bounced one off the woodwork. Borini is out of contract at the end of the end of the season, so he may not be a Chelsea player much longer. I'd love to see him keep scoring though, as he and Sturridge would certainly give us a pair of nice "homegrown" strikers going forward this spring. Here's his brace from the weekend:
Gael Kakuta - The third Chelsea attacker to go out on loan, Kakuta has been used very sparingly at Fulham. He's been an unused substitute four times and has seen three substitute appearances at around the 75 minute mark. He still has not found the net, but his passing, dribbling, and crossing have look good. Overall it's hard to get much of a read on him against Premier League competition as he's struggling to find the pitch. Bobby Zamora returning from his broken leg earlier than expected has probably contributed heavily to this. It would be nice if Mark Hughes gave him a start or two before his loan spell ends.
Patrick Van Aanholt - PVA is currently back in Cobham being treated for a torn thigh muscle, but he's already made 6 starts for Leicester City and was arguably the best player for them over that time. He's been a menace in attack and has shown himself to be capable tracking back and defending. His crosses have generally been excellent. He's showing himself to be a real keeper, and has only reinforced that belief during his loan spell. He's due to return to action after the international break.
Jeffrey Bruma - Bruma has been teamed with PVA at Leicester, and made his debut as a sub in his first game at the club. Since then, he's started all four games he's been available and has been pretty good. He's looked solid with the ball at his feet, and has done an exceptional job marking. He's been largely unnoticeable, which is usually a very good thing when discussing center backs. So far so good for Bruma, who likely currently has the inside track at being the internal replacement for John Terry eventually.
Michael Mancienne - Mancienne has been injured and hasn't made an appearance at Wolves since early December. He's proven to be a capable CB/holding midfielder in the Premier League, but the lack of recent playing time has really hurt his ability to prove he should be playing at Chelsea ahead of a summer where we're likely to see a lot of turnover. He's due to return to action this week. I can't picture a scenario at this point where he's still with the team next fall.
Jack Cork - Cork has been a regular starter for Burnley this year, and has also been a regular on the England U21's. He's made 39 appearances for Burnley, finding the back of the net three times. His overall play has been good enough that he could probably contribute in some capacity to the first team right now, but with the development of Josh McEachran and the depth of our midfield he might struggle to find a role. The quality is definitely there for Cork however, so his situation this summer will bear watching. He has to be seen as having improved his stock with his strong play this year.
Jacob Mellis - Mellis was loaned to Barnsley in January, and has started for them eight times while scoring twice. He's been solid, and like Cork could probably find a niche in the club right now. He's probably improved his standing with the club this year, and like Cork will bear watching this summer.
Connor Clifford - Clifford has been loaned out to Notts County, where he's been used sparingly. He's made five starts, was subbed out in three of them, and has come on late as a substitute twice more. He's yet to find the back of the net for Notts and has registered one assist. Clifford's stock has likely taken a hit this year with his limited and inconsistent play.
Lucas Piazon - While technically not a loanee until next fall, Piazon has been playing for the Brazil U17 in the South American championships. He's been playing as a striker for the national team, and found the back of the net again Saturday night. It sounds like he'll be making his first team debut for Sao Paulo when he returns from international duty, so hopefully our next write up will have more on Piazon. He won't be moving to London until January, so he won't factor into the discussion next fall.
Daniel Philliskirk - Philliskirk just extended his loan at Sheffield for the remainder of the season. He's yet to make his debut for the club despite being there since January, so I get the feeling Sheffield is trying to get a good look at him in advance of a permanent deal. Hopefully he'll get some action soon.
Ben Gordon - After impressing at Killie in the first half of the season, Gordon was sent to Scunthorpe to get a look closer to home for the spring. Gordon has started 10 times for the club, and has been solid so far. He hasn't found the net yet, but has been playing solid defensively and his link up play has looked very good. While he's likely improved his standing with the club, we are still deep enough on the left side that he's unlikely to be in the first team discussion any time soon.
Rhys Taylor - Taylor has been a regular for Crewe Alexandria, making 41 starts and keeping 10 clean sheets. The welshman has likely increased his standing with the club, but likely not enough to work his way into future discussions of the position.
Slabodan Rajkovic - Rajkovic has started 23 games so far for Vitesse and has looked improved in his defensive play. He's also been captaining the Vitesse squad. The 6' 5" defender is yet to find the net, something that many expected he'd be able to do from set pieces. He may be an option for the squad if Alex or Ivanovic is sold this summer, but the 22 year old has likely not impressed enough to work his way into anything more than a 4th/5th centerback role for a club as deep as Chelsea. It wouldn't surprise me if he is sold or used as a makeweight this summer.
Matej Delac - Delac hasn't played, but he's had a great view of Rajkovic from the bench as a backup keeper. Hopefully he's learning something in practice. Sending him out on loan to register zero minutes seems a waste, and now that his working papers have been approved in England I'd expect to see him join our reserve team over the summer.