With the arrival of Josh McEachran this summer, an impressive 14 youngsters have made the move from Stamford Bridge to Arnhem in the past four years
By Stefan Coerts
Much has been said and written about the close ties between Chelsea and Vitesse ever since the Eredivisie side were acquired by (now former owner) Merab Jordania in the summer of 2010.
The Arnhem side have signed numerous players from the Stamford Bridge side on loan in the past few years and they have gone from a team battling against relegation to a side that can challenge for top honours in the Dutch top flight.
In the first season of the partnership between both sides, the Arnhemmers only escaped the relegation play-offs on goal difference, yet last season they topped the Eredivisie table halfway through the season, even if they failed to keep up their good form after the winter break.
What's the role of the Chelsea loanees in Vitesse's resurgence, though? Goal
takes a closer look at the 14 players to have made the move to the Gelredome from Stamford Bridge since 2010.
Matej Delac was seen as one of the best young goalkeepers around in the world when he was snapped up by Chelsea in the summer of 2009, but he failed to live up to the high expectations at Vitesse. The Croatian goalkeeper was unable to displace Eloy Room as the first choice No.1 in Arnhem and returned to Stamford Bridge without having made a single Eredivisie appearance.
|SLOBODAN RAJKOVIC - DEFENDER
Slobodan Rajkovic had previously already enjoyed loan spells in the Eredivisie at PSV and Twente when he joined Vitesse in the summer of 2010 and he quickly became an important first-team member at the Arnhem side. It was not enough to convince his parent club that he was Chelsea material, though, and he was eventually offloaded to Hamburg, where he has failed to make much of an impact.
|NEMANJA MATIC - MIDFIELDER
Nemanja Matic is arguably the best Chelsea loanee to have made the move to the Gelredome in the past five seasons and the Serbia international needed little time to prove his worth at Vitesse. The Arnhemmers were keen to hold on to the midfielder for an additional season, but Chelsea instead decided to include him in the deal that saw David Luiz move from Benfica to London. Matic eventually did enough at the Portuguese champions to earn himself a transfer back to Chelsea and he is now a key figure under Jose Mourinho.
|PATRICK VAN AANHOLT - DEFENDER
Patrick van Aanholt left Netherlands for Chelsea at the age of 16, but returned to his native country in 2011 after failing to secure regular first team action at the Premier League side. The left-back initially found it hard to adapt to his new surroundings, but he eventually developed into a key player after the departure of Alexander Buttner to Manchester United. The defender even earned himself a call-up for the national side, yet was sold to Sunderland this summer as Chelsea brought in Filipe Luis for the position of left-back.
Tomas Kalas joined Chelsea at the age of 17 for a transfer fee over €6 million, only to be loaned out to Vitesse in 2011. The Czech Republic international immediately impressed at the Eredivisie outfit, first at centre-back and later as an attack-minded full-back. Kalas earned himself a return to England with his fine performances, but injury halted his progress last term, prompting Chelsea to send him out on loan again, this time to Koln.
Ulises Davila earned himself a move to Chelsea with his fine performances for Guadalajara, only to be shipped out on loan to Vitesse right away. The Mexican attacker failed to live up to the high expectations in Arnhem, though, and spent most of his time on the bench. He has since worn the jerseys of Sabadell and Cordoba on loan.
Gael Kakuta once was the most sought-after youngster around in Europe and Chelsea even risked a transfer ban secure the services of the Frenchman. The attacking midfielder has never really been able to live up to the hype, however, and his time in Arnhem was a bit of a mixed bag. Kakuta occasionally looked like the world-class talent that people once saw in him, but he went missing too often and was by no means an undisputed starter at Vitesse. He eventually left the club in January 2014 and currently plies his trade with Rayo Vallecano.
|SAM HUTCHINSON - DEFENDER
Vitesse brought in Sam Hutchinson to add some more depth to their squad, but they quickly realised that the defender was not at the level they were aiming for. The Englishman returned to his parent club after just six months in the Eredivisie and was released on a free transfer in 2014. He is currently under contract with Sheffield Wednesday.
|CRISTIAN CUEVAS - MIDFIELDER
It was clear right from the start that Cristian Cuevas was not ready to feature for Chelsea just yet when he joined the Blues in the summer of 2013, so it was no surprise that the young Chilean was farmed out on loan to Vitesse immediately. Nevertheless, the versatile midfielder was nowhere near the level required there either and he was moved on to Eerstedivisie side Eindhoven after hardly six months in Arnhem.
Chelsea spent big to lure Lucas Piazon to England in the summer of 2011 and the youngster immediately impressed in London. He was first sent out on loan to Malaga in order to gain valuable first team experience and then to Vitesse ahead of the 2013-14 campaign. The versatile attacker started brightly and played a key role in the Arnhemmers' successful start to the season. Nevertheless, he then fell out with head coach Peter Bosz and went through a difficult second half of the season. Piazon currently plies his trade at Eintracht Frankfurt on loan.
|CHRISTIAN ATSU - MIDFIELDER
Christian Atsu rose to prominence at Porto before signing for Chelsea in August 2013. The 22-year-old spent his first contract year on loan at Vitesse, though, and the Ghana international impressed with a string of fine performances at the ambitions Eredivisie side. Vitesse were keen to extend the winger's loan deal, but Chelsea eventually opted to move him on to Everton after a good display at the World Cup to let him gain experience in one of Europe's elite leagues.
|BERTRAND TRAORE - ATTACKER
Bertrand Traore was another of the seven Chelsea loanees in total to play for Vitesse in 2013-14, yet the youngster went through a difficult first six months in Holland. He showed glimpses of his talent during his few outings, but he was unable to really leave his mark. Traore did enough to convince Vitesse of taking him on loan for another season, though, and he will be keen to prove his worth this term.
The energetic right-back spent last season on loan at Inter, but made only a handful of appearances for the Serie A side. Chelsea therefore opted to send Wallace to Arnhem this summer in order to see him in action more regularly. The Brazilian youngster has shown in his few outings so far that he has talent, but the jury is still out on whether he has what it takes to succeed at Chelsea on the long term.
|JOSH MCEACHRAN - MIDFIELDER
Not too long ago, Josh McEachran was regarded as one of the hottest prospects around at Chelsea, yet his development has stagnated in recent years. The midfielder went through a difficult loan spell at Watford last season before moving on to Wigan. He has yet to really live up to the high expectations and his time at Vitesse could very well be his last chance to show that he is Chelsea material after all.