The centre-back was signed from Standard Liege in January 2012, and was immediately loaned to Dutch side ADO Den Haag for the remainder of that campaign. Following several temporary spells on the road, which took him to Middlesbrough, Kasimpasa (twice) and Alanyaspor, the centre-back will be a permanent fixture in the Cucumber Growers’ setup next term, having spent 2018/19 with the Spanish side.
In truth, the fact that he was probably never going to break into the first-team picture at Stamford Bridge was an unspoken certainty, owing to the excessive spells of getting farmed out. The Blues’ policy of sending a horde of players out on loan is looked on with scorn, as the narrative that it’s an unofficial cash cow is peddled with reckless abandon.
Popular opinion suggests the Stamford Bridge outfit purchase young, talented players across the globe on the cheap, loan them out for a few years and then make ample profit when they depart. While the really good ones make the grade at the club, it comes at the expense of several youngsters who get jettisoned, usually for a profit.
Unfortunately, Omeruo fell into the bracket of youngsters caught in the incessant cycle of temporary deals away from Stamford Bridge.
It was never going to be easy to break into the Chelsea team owing to the competition for places in central defence over the years. When the Nigeria international signed as an 18-year-old in 2012, John Terry, Gary Cahill, David Luiz, and Branislav Ivanovic (who frequently played at right-back) occupied the central defensive positions and it, largely, stayed that way until Kurt Zouma joined the first-team mix at the start of the 2014/15 campaign, after Luiz departed for Paris Saint-Germain.
On Kenneth Omeruo and defences to the forehttps://t.co/XZItlKEGgH— Solace Chukwu (@TheOddSolace) June 27, 2019
While the centre-backs have changed since, Omeruo hardly got an opportunity; due to the pressure put on new head coaches at the club to deliver instant results.
Ironically, though, it won’t be out of place to imagine the new Leganes man left West London at a time where the chance for a first-team spot opened up. Given the current situation Chelsea are in with the two-window transfer ban, and open battle for the central defensive slots, this season could’ve been Omeruo chance to make an impression.
Auditions are still being handed out by new head coach Frank Lampard and the perennial loanee had the benefit of a successful spell at the Cucumber Growers under his belt to give the Blues legend something to think about.
With Antonio Rudiger still recuperating from a serious knee injury, Andreas Christensen unconvincing, Zouma and Fikayo Tomori just returning from loans at Everton and Derby County respectively, the 25-year-old Nigerian could’ve thrown himself into the mix this year.
Be that as it may, Africa Cup of Nations participation with Nigeria was, ultimately, going to thwart his chances, as late resumption for pre-season would have had him playing catch-up in the hope of making an impression on Lampard.
Swapping London for the outskirts of Madrid makes sense for Omeruo especially after his highly impressive stint under Mauricio Pellegrino last season. After an inactive start, he went on to become one of Pellegrino’s trusted fighters and was also, arguably, their best defender.
He carried his end-of-season form into Afcon, churning out consistent performances for the Super Eagles over the course of the tournament in Egypt as they secured bronze.
You know its bad—Chelsea couldn't find an image of Omeruo in the club's kit.— Solace Chukwu (@TheOddSolace) August 13, 2019
I kid, I kid. Cannot help but be pleased for Kenneth, who finally finds a home. https://t.co/yDGh5abKVD
It remains to be seen if the reliable defender will pick up where he left off in the last campaign, but the recent past points to an auspicious future for the centre-back.
The recent loan acquisition of compatriot Chidozie Awaziem not only sees him welcome a friend to Leganes, but also brings about a fair bit of friendly competition for places between the pair, and their defensive teammates, for the upcoming campaign.
At 25, Omeruo, who has just entered his prime years, couldn’t afford to wait any longer in hope at Chelsea for a chance that might never have come. The dream when he deplaned in England from Belgium was to become a mainstay for the five-time Premier League champions, but after seven years, it was obviously not to be.
In Leganes, the consistent centre-back ought to settle down in one place at last after years of the indefinite…he can finally find a home.