Chelsea have always been a club known to use and some might claim to abuse—The loan system in international football. This habit of loaning young players to smaller teams to guarantee them regular football has divided fans and experts. Some argue that the constant sending of inexperienced squad members to different clubs actually hampers their development, while others see it as working under the rules of the system to improve the youngsters at Stamford Bridge.
The last blow of the Blues, send AC Milan center-back Fikayo Tomori for the remainder of the season, is another example of the club’s obsession with the loan that could be detrimental in the long run. Tomori is a very talented player with a bright future in West London, and he certainly should have had more playing time than he was. Frank Lampard’s mismanagement of his minutes obviously played a role in his decision to leave for Italy and, at this very difficult time of Chelsea’s season, snubbing gifted players who will fight for the badge is simply unacceptable. .
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From Tomori’s perspective, going out on loan is the right decision. He has only made four appearances in total this year, including just 44 ‘of Premier League playing time. Moreover, the reintroduction of Antonio Rudiger into the rotation effectively ended any hope of improving the situation. Moreover, Milan are currently one of the best teams in Europe, having lost just two matches in all competitions. The young Englishman will certainly benefit from playing alongside veteran defenders such as the always underrated Simon Kjaer and Alessio Romagnoli in a confident and well-organized Rossoneri squad.
From the club’s perspective, the consequences of this move may not be apparent for years to come. As I mentioned, Tomori was clearly not in Lampard’s plans and unless there were significant injuries, that was unlikely to change. However, what if the loan goes really well for Tomori and he wants to stay at the San Siro? What if it improves greatly and becomes the missing piece in Milan’s desperate effort to finally dethrone Juventus from the top of Serie A? Will the supporters look at Tomori the same way we look at Kevin De Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Mohamed Salah? I think that’s a separate possibility, and one that will seriously hamper Chelsea’s future.
Another disturbing facet of Tomori’s situation is his potential to be the most recent player sucked into Chelsea’s inescapable loan vortex. Fans may have heard of Definitive departure of Lucas Piazon for Portuguese club Braga after nine years at Stamford Bridge which included seven separate loan spells and a single Premier League appearance. The Brazil international was once one of Cobham’s most vaunted prospects but ultimately never cemented his place at the club. Players like Ethan Ampadu and Ruben Loftus-Cheek seem to be heading down this path quickly, and Tomori could be close to joining them.
Of course, it must be said that not all Chelsea loans end in disaster. Mason Mount’s spells at Vitesse Arnhem and Derby County were clearly positive experiences that turned him into the player he is today. This season, Conor Gallagher at West Brom and Marc Guehi at Swansea have made a splash. I really hope that Tomori’s loan to Milan can be a period of maturation that will set him up for the Blues’ first XI next year. However, given Chelsea’s track record with these kinds of deals, there is certainly reason to be skeptical.