Loan Stars On Speed-Dial

WE know Aitor Karanka has been on the blower to Jose Mourinho. He has said as much. In fact, he’s probably got him on speed-dial. And Aitor could be eating into his mobile minutes this week as he tries to shape a squad fit for a promotion challenge.

Boro will be looking to use their fledgling relationship with Chelsea to bring in some serious talent before the big kick-off next month.
We have already seen the value of that route.  In January Karanka called Jose and took imposing centre-back Kenneth Omeruo and tidy midfield metronome Nate Chalobah on loan and both played important roles in turning the season around.
Big Ken, fresh from the World Cup with Nigeria, has already indicated that he would be happy to come back to Boro.  
And he could be joined by more of the Stamford Bridge second string. Clubs can take up to four players on loan from another club and while Boro may not go to the max it is nice to think we could get a chance to rifle through their reserves.
It would be nice to pick a couple of good ones, not unproven kids but a couple that, like Ken, are not quite ready for the Chelsea first team but who are more than capable of making a matchwinning impression in this league. They won the FA Youth Cup and the Under-21 Academy League last season.
The prospect of Boro taking Chelsea lads on loan is not just because Jose and Aitor are mates, although that helps.  The style of play on the pitch is similar (although obviously Chelsea are applying it with far better players) and the training regime is similar, with both managers applying the methodology they used at Real Madrid.
Boro train with a technical complexity and intensity that matches the Stamford Bridge regime. Chelsea coaches who visited Rockliffe last year to check on the progress of their lads were delighted with the set-up. And when the players returned and were debriefed they both gave glowing reports. So there is a tactical and philosophical synergy that makes Boro a logical choice for Chelsea.
In the past they have sent their starlets out to Vitesse Arnhem to get first team action but increasingly they are trying to get pitch-time in the Championship too to acclimatise them to the tempo and physicality of English football before they are thrown into the Premier League. Boro are well placed to offer that plus they play and train in a way that is a good fit with Chelsea.
“Jose and I have a fantastic relationship and that can help,” said Karanka explaining the link. “But we have to work in the same way that we worked in the past.
“The most important thing is Chelsea will be happy sending players to Middlesbrough.  Also it is important the players who come here are happy – like Ken and Nate – and that Jose and me are happy because the players are playing for me and are good for me and so for him too.”
So which Chelsea players would Boro want? There are plenty to choose from. Chelsea had 27 out on loan last year right across Europe – and with most of them on season long deals.
Obviously one of those slots should be Omeruo. He grew by the week last term to become a confident and physically imposing defender and showed in the World Cup that he can handle even the very best opposition.
But what about the rest?
Chalobah was a useful player last season and while he had patches when his form drifted a bit, he has plenty of experience at this level and with a full pre-season under his belt he could be a significant force.
After that there are a wide range of positions and profiles to pick from.
When asked online “who should Boro sign this summer” Omeruo was a popular choice along with fellow Chelsea starlets Thorgan Hazard and Patrick Bamford.
Eden’s little brother is set for a stint in the Bundesliga next season with  Borussia Monchengladbach.  But Bamford could be up for grabs. Interested? He ticks a lot of boxes.
Let’s look at some of the best Chelsea talent we could be after.
Two seasons of first team football have toughened up Bamford as he adapted with ease with life in first League One then the Championship.
With excellent close control and a burst of pace to beat defenders he was deadly at MK Dons where he banged in 21 goals in 44 games. Then in January he opted for Steve McClaren and Derby ahead of Boro and a host of other clubs and scored another eight in 21 appearances after slotting straight in.
He signed for Chelsea for £1.5m in January 2012 after just two first team outings for Forest but a blistering run through the FA Youth Cup.  He scored five and set up three in a 9-1 win over Wigan and then got four in a 5-1 spanking of Southampton, both in front of an army of scouts.
He is a clever lad too. He got A-levels in French, history, biology and general studies and is currently learning Spanish… could be useful.
Boro fans were gushing the first time they saw Nathan Ake. He took total control of the midfield in Chelsea’s 2-0 FA Cup win at the Riverside in February 2013.
He was quick, tough-tackling and showed a superb range of passing and looked to be pointing and bossing Chelsea’s superstars around. It was his first start for the senior team. And he was out of position. The dreadlocked central defender looked totally assured in a holding role and was the best player on the pitch.
Later that season he had a few cameos in the league and then played in the quarter and semi finals of the Europa League too. He’s not bad.  Ake, 19, was signed from Feyenoord in 2011 and last year signed a new five year deal. He has played for Holland at every youth level and is a current Under-21 regular.
An international team-mate of Albert Adomah with Ghana, Atsu has done his stint in Holland and may now be available for a Championship side.
He joined Chelsea from Porto in September 2013 and signed a
five-year deal then was loaned out to nursery club Vitesse Arnhem for the rest of last season playing 26 games and scoring five times.
Atsu is a left-sided midfielder who can play in the centre, on the wing, as part of a front three or as a second striker. He joined Porto from the superbly named FC Cheetah.
After a loan stint at second division Rio Ave he broke into Porto’s first team last season and made 17 appearances as the club won the title and played eight games in the Champions League too.
Atsu made his debut for Ghana in June 2012 and was a regular by the time of last January’s Africa Cup of Nations and put in some impressive displays in the World Cup in the group games.
Chelsea fought off Barcelona and Juventus to sign Brazilian youth international striker Piazon in January 2011.
He spent a season at Stamford Bridge and helped win the FA Youth Cup before being loaned out to Malaga in Spain and then last year made the switch to Vitesse.
He played and scored on last summer’s Chelsea tour of the United States then in Holland he won rave reviews as he scored 11 and got eight assists in 33 games playing as a second striker.
Even Chelsea fans will have forgotten van Aanholt. He hasn’t played for them since 2011 and has spent the last two years on loan at Vitesse. But the highly-rated left-back, now 23, is a full Dutch international with 100-plus top flight games under his belt.
He had short loan spells at Coventry, Newcastle, Fulham and Wigan before being farmed out to Vitesse where he has now played 67 games.
The Mexican attacking midfielder, now 23, joined Chelsea from Chivas in August 2011 and signed a five- year deal.
He had the mandatory year-long loan at Vitesse Arnhem and has since spent two years in the second division in Spain, first at Sabadell then last year at Cordoba. He was a first team fixture there  and ended the campaign against Barcelona B in a play-off where he scored a last-minute goal that took the club into the top flight for the first time in over 40 years.
Kurt Zouma signed for Chelsea from St Etienne in January 2013 and was loaned straight back to the French club for the rest of the season.
The central defender, 19, has already played 52 times and scored four times for ‘Les Verts’ where he is a first team fixture despite his age. He is a physically imposing 6ft 2in French Under-21 international who plays in the middle but who is also comfortable at right-back.
Chileans are hip. Left-back come left winger Cristian Cuevas joined Chelsea from Chilean club O’Higgins last summer.
Still just 18, he played for the Chile Under-20 side that reached the World Cup quarter-finals last summer and has trained with the senior international side. He was in action against Ben Gibson in the Under-21 Toulon tournament in May.
He started last season on loan at Vitesse Arnhem before a January switch to Dutch second division club FC Eindhoven.



33 thoughts on “Loan Stars On Speed-Dial

  1. No chance of getting Kurt Zouma, he is one of the best young central defenders in the world.

    Cuevas has gone to Universidad de Chile, Piazon is at Dinamo Zagreb

    You missed out Ruben Loftus-Cheek – potentially great central midfielder

    **AV writes: Yes, I considered him but he’s only 18 so I think he goes to Vitesse next. There’s loads. I only picked out a few.

    1. Is that actually a ‘thing’ though, that the 18-year olds go to Vitesse whatever their nationality? I thought that the majority of players sent there were non-British.

      If there was a chance of getting him I don’t see his age as a problem, there have been plenty of 18-year olds or younger even to break through in the Premiership and the division below – if it was good enough for Jamie Pollock…

  2. AV, when you say that the limit of loanees from any particular club is four, what is the limit of loanees a club is allowed to take in per season? I.e. is it a fixed figure per season, can you take on another one if one of your loanees goes back after 3 months or so, or is it once you’ve hit your limit that’s it?

    **AV writes: A maximum of eight in total and a limit of five in any one matchday squad.

  3. Have Vitesse achieved much with these loanee’s?

    On another note the crank at work was banging on about Jelle Vossen again this morning………….

  4. In football, personal connections are quite important and if we can back that up with excellent training facilities and methods then I’m sure Chelsea will be giving us first pick of their fringe youngsters. I think it also helps that Steve Gibson has a good reputation in the game, plus good personal connections with many other chairmen.

    I agree that Chalobah is potentially a very good championship player if he gets focused – he covers the ground so easily and efficiently that if his game gels together he could be a very good player.

    I also think what Boro can get from these loan deals is access to players with electric pace that also have a good first touch – normally Championship level players don’t have both. So as long as our Chelsea choices are not too green they could be important players for us – even better if we get them in for pre-season.

  5. McCormack for £11M might just be the time that football finally jumps the shark.

    That is absolutely insane money, excellent work by Leeds clearly, but insane amounts of money.

    Anyway, in other news – what on earth are we doing for signings? We’ve been tantalized with tales of 2 strikers who are “better” than Vossen and Graham on the verge of signing, and now – nothing…. Come on AV – tell the club to hurry up the paperwork.

    Unless we’re on the verge of signing Lukaku – in which case I’ll happily wait another few days!

    **AV writes: I don’t think it is a question of whether they are “better” than Vossen but of whether the manager believes they are “more fitting” for the way he wants to play.

    Karanka has told Gibbo who he wants given the resources available and the chairman is trying to make that happen. That strikes me as a good thing, the club backing the manager’s judgement. They will try and get their top targets in, then try to solve the right back situation, then reassess what they need and how much cash they have.

    The club are aware that Vossen wants out at Genk and are keeping an eye on the situation. After they get the top targets sorted, or if they fail to get them, they MAY revisit that one but it has to be stressed firstly that Vossen isn’t even available right now. There is a lot of noise as he tries to engineer an exit from a club where he is unhappy but he hasn’t asked for a transfer, the club haven’t listed him and Boro haven’t made an approach.

    Some Boro fans are getting their knickers in a twist measuring one relatively unknown quantity against two totally unknown ones. That is theoretical algebraic anger. What if Genk say “OK you can have him but he will cost £6m”… would these Boro fans still then insist we should pursue it? And has anyone actually even seen him play?

  6. McCormack £11m? Financial Fair Play? Fulham have parachute money to burn and Leeds have suddenly doubled their budget for this season. But if your chairman wanted to pump in an extra £5m then this is deemed an unfair advantage that requires a penalty.

    I can’t see how FFP is the right solution in it’s present form – just have a rule that clubs must balance the books and have a wage cap on the 22 man squad.

    **AV writes: I think it is fair to say that Steve Gibson is a bit frustrated at how FFP has panned out.

  7. Totally agree with Werdermouth. Fair Play – seriously? Mind, McCormack could be a flop at Fulham – as a certain Alves was here.

    But still I am optimistic. AK seems to be a clever and astute manager. If he can bring back both Omerou and Chalobah on loan, sign a desent RB and two strikers, then fine.

    Finding the two strikers could be tricky – or they could be just Danny Graham and Lukas Jutkiewicz. If the latter is sold then another striker must be bought. I still prefer to start with Danny and have a new striker to start the season with. No loanee for the striker position for me, thanks.

    Up the Boro!

  8. There appears to be more posting going on.

    Several possibilities.

    The first could be a small outbreak of positivity as the summer goes on and kick off looms.

    The blog itself also helps because you don’t need stiff measure of single malt to encourage you to post. There is no write, copy, post followed by submission failed because no name or email address supplied – we all know that they were there when we tried.

    Paste and resubmit then hope it gets through and AV isn’t being selfish like taking his family out on a Sunday. Or disappearing into a parallel dimension.

    It is interesting that the new blog is up and running with no abuse even though there is no facelessbook subscription needed.

    AV, has anyone been sin binned yet? I wonder if we are better behaved because you are not moderating all the posts. Or is it because there have been no contentious issues as yet?

    **AV writes: Yes, two people have been locked in “unapproved limbo” after expletive peppered opening gambits. One followed up with another foul-mouthed rant about free speech. His IP is now classified as ‘spam.’

  9. Sky Sports understands Middlesbrough have turned down a bid from Rotherham United for midfielder Richie Smallwood. No big news here as I think he should be regular for Boro this season. Always reliable and can run more than Whitehead.

    Up the Boro!

  10. Apologies for not getting excited at the prospect of being asked to follow Chelsea Reserves next season.

    And as the likes of Steele, Smallwood et al face the likelihood of being moved on, what kind of message is this sending to our own kids throughout the area?

    1. Len,

      I think the message to ‘our own kids’ is clear. “Try harder, be better.” I call that positive.

  11. FFP is right in principle but it is seriously flawed as last season showed when those who spent the most got promoted.

    The “hope” for the rest of us is that Burnley who also got promoted showed what can be achieved with a relatively small and inexpensive squad and huge dollops of Team Spirit.

    If Leeds can wrangle £11m out of Fulham then good luck to them. Whilst we are envious at the £11m how much of that will be allowed to be spent by their owner and what percentage of Leeds points haul last season were as a direct result of McCormack’s efforts. Ross is undoubtedly a talent at this level but £11m is more than ridiculous, its crazy.

    But how many frivolous deals can Fulham do before they start to feel the pinch especially if their crowds drop and their marquee signings don’t deliver. McCormack’s success was in no small part down to the style of play of the Team and how he fit with the then Leeds manager, will Magath adopt the same tactics or will Ross find himself “shoehorned”? Will Leeds ever recover from their “overhaul”?

    The footballing authorities need to look at FFP and review it already. Is its intention to create a fairer and more level playing field or is it merely to stop clubs going to the brink or is it a balance of both. So long as we have SG in charge of our club I’m not unduly concerned, realising that we are in a very small minority in that respect and other clubs have bigger concerns in general than just FFP rules.

    The Fit and Proper Person test seems to have become a bit of an albatross already for the powers that be and I confidently expect at least three Championship clubs to suffer and struggle as a consequence of its ineptness. An imploding Club is not something any true fan wants to witness, thankfully its not something that we will see close up at the Riverside.

    Regarding the signing void, again I’m not unduly concerned, my best purchases have always been the ones that I have done my homework on first, checked out the prices in the market and knew exactly what make and model I wanted. My worse purchases have been those knee jerk, too good to be true ones where you realise once you get them home that I either didn’t really need one or it just doesn’t fit or look as good as I thought it would. Football is no different, lets carefully select and choose the right model.

    As Tolstoy once said “The two most powerful warriors are patience and time”.

  12. AV writes: I’m doing a football flashback piece on Robbie Mustoe for tomorrow. Does anyone have any memories, pen-picture assessments or off the field tales of our Robbie Reliant?

    1. Aged about 13, was on a Boro Football in the Community course (run by Gilly and David Geddis, if memory serves). One day we went along to Ayresome, where the club was still training.

      We were allowed to meet the players before training and get autographs. Robbie originally turned me down with a “Sorry pal, haven’t really got time to sign – see you after training”, disappeared for a few seconds, then returned saying: “Sorry, it only takes me a second to write my name – not sure what I was doing”. After signing, and a few more apologies, then disappeared. Top man.

      Also saw him in the shop in Darlington a few years back, buying a stack of what looked like very poor American TV series on DVD. But that’s neither here nor there.

    2. I remember just after he signed, FMTTM had a piece by the Editor of the Oxford United fanzine.

      It said that Mustoe couldn’t pass, shoot or dribble but he was OK at running about and that basically we’d been stitched up paying £325,000 and we were welcome to him.

      Which goes to show that you should take with a large pinch of salt anything you read in a fanzine or on a message board.

      Brilliant value for money in fact in the Boro Bureau de Change you can exchange an Alves for 38 Mustoes.

  13. Robbie was a great servant and an honest and decent one at that. Always gave 100% and never gave up. He would walk into the Team right now. Always the unsung hero for me!

  14. I’ve just realised why I like the new format of the Blog/Forum so much better than the old one. It’s because I’m not tempted to click the Home page for the gazettelive site! I’ve not seen many more frustrating sites than the Gazette’s – it takes ages for all the page to load then, when you click on a story, the waiting starts again.

    As an exile in Lancashire, I’d like to keep up to speed with what’s happening in the ‘Boro but the gazette site isn’t the place to find it.

    **AV writes: Hey, those adverts pay my wages!

  15. Like Len, I am left cold by the thought of watching Chelsea reserves in Boro shirts. But, much as I loathe it, I accept that football has moved on.

    The most well funded clubs have the resource to stockpile talent now and, quite rightly for them, they send young prospects out to make mistakes of inexperience elsewhere.

    I don’t blame Chelsea or Citeh or whoever, they are doing what is best for them within rules that allow them to do it. I don’t blame Gibson or Karanka for taking these youngsters either. Boro fans like those of most clubs across the country have sent a clear message that results are the single most important aspect of the game and should be pursued aggressively.

    In Karanka I believe we have a man who will eventually deliver those results, possibly even this coming season, and FFP has made the loan option more attractive then ever.

    I would prefer a system that allows only 15 senior outfield players in a squad, the rest being local (UK) youngsters or “homegrown” senior players in addition to player wage expenditure being a maximum of 60% of income, with transfers for under 21s banned.

    **AV writes: A “hard” wage cap based on income still gives the big club a massive advantage. The only way to make it truly fair is to centralise income and distribute evenly.

    1. I don’t recall a time when results weren’t the most important aspect of the game – I never left a game thinking never mind that we lost but it was good to see some local lads in the team.

      The difference now is that the sums of money involved are so huge. It’s only 25 years since Michael Knighton almost bought Man Utd for only £20m – now half the PL clubs have billionaire owners and are leveraged to the max.

      These clubs hoover up the young talent across the world in the hope that one two eventually make the first team – the youngsters themselves are quite happy to sign lucrative contracts and live the dream. Clubs like Boro can now only hope that these players pass through their hands for a season or two on loan as we’ll never be able to afford them unless they don’t make the cut and are in need of restarting their football career.

      I still think the very least the regulators can do is clamp down on debt and wages and possibly restrict the number of players a club can register or have a minimum number of English-born players in each squad.

      But in terms of money we’ll not be competing for the top players even if we make the PL again – Steve Gibson managed it once when he was ahead of the curve and £10m was a lot of cash then, but the top level now belongs to oligarchs, sheikhs and corporate american.

      1. Spot on. Agree completely. The most important thing is to win. At the end of the day football is a sport, a competition as a spectator you don’t pay money to watch them compete but lose. Very soon that would become very tedious.

        I couldn’t care where our players were born. Even the ‘local’ lads come from Sunderland or Newcastle in many cases. Does that mean they should play in front of a young player from London or Glasgow or even Timbuktu for that matter? Football is a multinational game. You should broaden your horizons to choose from the biggest pool of players possible then you have more chance of success. I couldn’t care less if that’s using a Chelsea reserve or a young lad from down the road.

        I want Boro to be the best they can be by any means necessary (within reason, obviously illegalities are a different kettle of fish!!)

    2. AV – I think a blog on this subject would be very interesting. The way different sports treat income and expenditure: for instance America is the home of capitalism but the way American football is set up is specifically to level the playing field, even merchandising revenues are split. Basketball has a wage cap for the teams, as do most other American sports.

      I’m not sure what the answer is, but the current system in England and across Europe is wholly inequitable.

  16. Skysports now running a story that we have bid for Vossen, 4m Euros which has been swiftly knocked back.

    The Championship club have returned with a new offer of €4million (£3.1million), but Genk have been quick to say no, insisting they turned down nearly twice that amount in January.

    “A bid of €4million is not enough for a player of this calibre, remember that certain players have even joined us before for €10million (£7.9m),” Genk chairman Herbert Houben told Het Nieuwsblad.

    We are in danger of being seen as a money bags club again with all these massive bids for players, 2m Euros for a Spanish RB. £1m GBP for Graham, £20k a week for Nugent now a 4m euro bid for our “D” choice striker! Typical Boro, we will end up with Kitson again!

    **AV writes: No one in football is adding all the figures together and assuming Boro have £10m to spend. Everyone in the game knows exactly what everyone else’s budget is. Meanwhile we understand that there has been no bid from Boro for Vossen. They have inquired if he would be available and keeping their options open. They may revisit that later but are currently working on two other deals.

  17. Didn’t we also send our reservers out on loan last season? Reach and Smallwood went and gained valuable experience at the lower league clubs. Their supporters watched our ressies. So we are doing the same as Chelsea. Anyway, I won’t expect more than two loanees from Chelseas at best (or worst, Len).

    Up the Boro!

  18. AV –

    it would be equally unfair on those clubs who have created a global brand to then pool all the money and redistribute to all.

    The point of the wage cap is not for fairness though, it’s to help ensure sensible spending and avoid clubs going out of business.

    The senior player cap could provide more fairness though as clubs couldn’t build huge squads, whilst not allowing U21s to move would prevent “stockpiling”, promote local youth and help redistribute transfer fees down the football food chain on the rare occasion that a great prospect came through at a lesser club.

    Jarkko –

    I don’t think there is a problem with a loan player or two, but if you get four from the same club it creates the feeling of being a feeder.

  19. On the issue of loans you can eat from the top table, have scraps from the top table or stave. Boro aren’t at the top table so we may as well have scraps than the players who starve us of getting any quality in. If they want to play for us and are keen to get games, get them in. Let the drifters drift elsewhere.

  20. Thanks for the 8 suggestions AV – I’m going for option 9, none of the above.

    Sitting obediently next to Chelsea’s top table waiting for scraps, drooling like some flatulent labrador. No thanks Boro Doug.

    One of the few positives from last season was Karanka’s realisation that the original plan of flooding us with loanees and Spaniards was misplaced and that we needed proven Championship performers. This revelation seemed to coincide with Hignett arriving but, however the change of plan came about, it was most welcome.

    It’s good to see us linked with Nugent and Clayton who are just the type of players we need not half-hearted, spotty, spoilt 19 year olds from the “Smoke”.

    Ok, Omeruo did pretty well but I wouldn’t be wasting much of our limited budget on him when we have Gibson and Ayala as first choice centre-backs. Chalobah was far too laid back and inconsistent for this level of football.

    What we really need is a sprinkling of unfashionable, consistent solid pros plus a wonder striker who can score goals on his own while the rest of the team defends like their lives depended on it.

    **AV writes: There was never “a plan to flood us with loanees and Spaniards” except in the minds of conspiracists. There was (and is) a plan to use deepening links with a couple of foreign clubs (plus Chelsea) to try and pick out a couple of gems, rising talents, ahead of the curve to supplement a smarter scouting network and get more bang for our buck.

    Some might be on loan. Some may be real deals. Hopefully those ones will be brilliant and then be snapped up by bigger clubs for a healthy profit. It is the only sustainable model for a club our size if we want to be able to do any more than tread water. And you would want the loans to be brilliant too, even if only for a year.

    For instance one that was offered to Boro last year on a season long loan was Eduardo Vargas who turned out to be one of the stars for Chile in the World Cup. He was there for the taking. It was agreed. He had looked around the millionaire pads at Rockliffe. He was ready to come – but he eventually got fed up waiting around while Mogga chased McCormack. I don’t blame Mogga for trying to get McCormack but it is moments like those that get managers the sack. Getting either of those players in may well have kept Mogga in his post. Fine Margins.

    1. Omeruo was our best player last season and the main reason we conceded so few goals at the back end. Do not be blinded by loyalty for ‘local lads’ into thinking any player that we currently have on the books is anywhere near comparable to Omeruo in terms of ability. I personally agree that Chalobah we could take him or leave him but Omeruo was immense and will only get better.

      The key with loan players is to know they are better than what you currently have if they are it is a no-brainer to not take them regardless of where they are born or which club they are currently contracted to.

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