By James Nalton, Football Whispers
Chelsea have 33 players out on loan. This may seem like an excessive amount – probably because it is – but some of these players could come in very handy for them if a recently launched FIFA investigation into the club’s transfer dealings results in a transfer ban.
It’s the third time the game’s governing body have looked into the club’s deals, and this latest examination concerns the transfer of foreign players under the age of 18, though no details of specific transfers have been released.
The London club had previously been in hot water over the transfer of Gael Kakuta from Lens in 2007, and although they were initially banned from signing players for two transfer windows, this punishment was overturned after that appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
READ MORE: Chelsea facing prospect of FIFA transfer ban
If the worst happens following the new investigation, however, they have plenty of resources to fall back on. And it could be good for the players who have been shipped out on loan for a number of seasons to finally get some stability in their career.
As with all transfer bans of the type Chelsea could face, players are still permitted to leave the club, and although clubs try to prevent key players from exiting the club during these periods, it could be a good time to assess the ludicrous amount of players they have in the no man’s land of the loan market.
Our friends at Football Whispers look at which members of their loan army could be called upon if the Blues are hit with a ban.
Two of the brightest home-grown talents among this group are Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Lewis Baker, who are both away on loan at English clubs. The former is impressing for Crystal Palace in the Premier League, while the latter, now 22, is at Championship side Middlesbrough where he recently scored his first league goal for the club against QPR.
These two English talents have been highly regarded throughout their age group at international level, and as they reach their early 20s they will be looking to kick on and eventually make the progression to the senior England set up. As a result they will hope to push for first team minutes on their return next summer. Either that or look for a permanent move.
Midfielder Jeremie Boga is also on loan in the Championship with Birmingham City, but the French born Ivorian international may have been hoping for something more, having started Chelsea’s first game of the season against Burnley.
Another player who had impressed for his county’s youth sides, attacking midfielder Nathan was seen as one of Brazil’s best talents when he arrived from Atletico Paranaense in 2015. But the 21-year-old is yet to make an appearance for his new club, instead spending two years on loan at Vitesse before being sent to Ligue 1 side Amiens this season.
Mario Pasalic will also be looking to attract suitors from elsewhere thanks to his performances on loan at Monaco, AC Milan and now Spartak Moscow. The German-born player has a senior cap for his adopted country, Croatia, and will now want a permanent home. But if his current club are hit with a ban, then the midfielder may be one they have to turn to as backup.
Kurt Zouma is also still on the books at Chelsea, but the 22-year-old Frenchman is currently at Stoke where he has played every minute of every game so far. Antonio Conte didn’t seem to trust centre-back and Stoke are likely to want the player permanently at the end of the season which could be a good move for all involved.
Other centre backs they could use include Kenneth Omeruo, Matt Miazga and Tomas Kalas. But the signing of Antonio Rudiger and introduction of Andreas Christensen this season means they’re well stocked in this area for a couple more seasons.
There are also plenty of young English players on loan at clubs across the country who will hope that they can impress enough to be given a chance back at their parent club, or at least convince another team in the top two divisions to take a punt on them and give them the first team football they need to progress as footballers.
Conte’s side have the resources to draw upon should the worst happen following this investigation. And, in the event, it could be the best thing to happen to some of the players languishing in Chelsea’s buy-to-loan system.
If a ban isn’t imposed, then the players whose deals have raised suspicion will just join a long line of players who are on the books at Stamford Bridge for a number of years without getting a first-team run out.