Chelsea and Vitesse’s partnership remains a strong link. Since 2010, Chelsea has loaned 23 players there in the only certain loan army destination.
Just as Chelsea’s loan army was beginning, Vitesse became a prime location. Since 2010, 23 individual players have been sent by Chelsea to the Netherlands to develop.
It is an interesting relationship. Chelsea can loan several players to the Dutch side at a time and the expectation is that they will all be starters. They get to learn a generally technical style of football in a lower, yet still challenging level.
The most notable players to have spent time there are Nemanja Matic, Patrick van Aanholt, Tomas Kalas, Gael Kakuta, Christian Atsu, Lucas Piazon, Bertrand Traore, Josh McEachran, Lewis Baker, Izzy Brown and Dominic Solanke. Marco van Ginkel was purchased from the club though was never loaned there by Chelsea. Currently, Matt Miazga, Fankaty Dabo and Mason Mount are plying their trade at the club on loan.
That is an extensive list of players who have either made it to first division level, are close to it, or were thought to be the next class of world beaters. Chelsea have been using the team as a first loan destination for years.
But why? The near guaranteed starts are a good jumping off point. Between 18 and 23, players must be playing regularly. Ideally, that will be at the level most challenging to them. The Eredivisie is low in quality outside of the big three of Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord but the idea remains the same. The league focuses on developing technically adept youth to be sold for profit. That is the appeal Chelsea see.
Even if the players loaned to Vitesse do not make it, they at least have a large portfolio of minutes to point to. And the skill on the ball they learn there combined with the more physical style they learn in the academy creates a formidable player.
The concern, however, is that Chelsea have no idea what to do with them after they outgrow Vitesse. Often, these players end up on loan in the Championship where they struggle to readjust. There, they become lost amongst the ranks of the loan army.
The few that have had Premier League loans have also underwhelmed or had terrible luck. The only true success story (as in making the Chelsea squad as a key player) has been Matic who had to be sold and bought back before the club recognized his talent.
Vitesse is a fine starting point for players out of the academy. In fact, it is great to have a certain destination like it for the star pupils. The issue comes afterwards. Chelsea needs to find another club of a higher level to fully bridge the gap between a Vitesse loan and the Chelsea first team.
Few teams would be as willing to loan in so many players from one squad. That is how one club becomes servant to another. But Chelsea do need to find a partnership somewhere to build upon the Vitesse experience. With Vitesse being the only certain loan spot, the players struggle with the second step. That is where Chelsea need to improve.