CHELSEA SCOUTING REPORT: The big hitters on-loan
Andrew Slevison continues his look at the best Premier League performers away on-loan with an examination of Chelsea's programme.
Chelsea has more than 20 players out on loan at the moment and at tribalfootball.com, we wanted to take a closer look at how they are performing and what their future holds.
We have started with those more established at their loan clubs and in the coming week will work our way down the list to the lesser known names.
Michael EssienReal Madrid
The Ghanaian midfielder has battled for fitness with the Spanish champions after being sent to the Santiago Bernabeu by Roberto Di Matteo in the summer. He headed back to Stamford Bridge late last year for treatment on his troublesome knee long with a mystery illness which forced him out of action.
Essien is now back in the plans of Jose Mourinho after starting in recent Copa Del Rey wins over Celta Vigo and Valencia as well as a full 90 minutes in the winning January 6 La Liga seven-goal thriller over Real Sociedad to make it 16 appearances total for the campaign.
He will head back to Chelsea in the summer when his Madrid loan expires but it remains to be seen if he has a future with the Blues at all.
Kevin de BruyneWerder Bremen
De Bruyne is a vital member of the Bremen line-up with four goals and five assists in 17 Bundesliga appearances thus far, prompting manager Thomas Schaaf to declare that he wants to retain his services beyond this summer.
The 21-year old certainly has a big future ahead of him but the Blues may look to give him another year, or at least six months, of development in a first team environment before he becomes a Stamford Bridge regular.
The young goalkeeper has risen to prominence with Atletico Madrid where he is in his second season on loan following a dream debut campaign in Spain in which he helped the Rojiblancos take out the Europa League title.
Courtois has quality written all over him and will certainly be Chelsea's number one when Petr Cech departs provided the Southwest Londoners can keep other clubs away from him.
The 20-year old Belgian is keen to stay another year at the Vicente Calderon Stadium, which the Blues may allow, but if Cech's form begins to wane, expect them to throw him into the Premier League cauldron after impressing so much in Spain's top flight.
Romelu LukakuWest Bromwich Albion
Lukaku has shrugged off a disappointing debut season with Chelsea to get himself on the right track to vindicating his £13million transfer fee which was paid in August 2011.
Another Belgian young gun, the 19-year old striker is adapting well to life as a Premier League player with West Bromwich Albion where he has scored nine goals so far this campaign.
The former Anderlecht man has netted more times this term than the likes of Wayne Rooney, Fernando Torres, Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Lukas Podolski, Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov and if he continues to develop at this rate, we could see him regularly in a Blues shirt as early as next season.
24 appearances for a club sitting fifth on the Championship table suggests that 19-year old McEachran is coming along nicely.
The Chelsea youth academy product has established himself at the Riverside Stadium, after failing to really impress at Swansea City last season, by starting all but three of Boro's league fixtures for Tony Mowbray.
He has become comfortable in the middle of the pitch for the Teessiders and with more game time of a similar nature in the second part of the season, will develop quickly in the fiercely competitive nature of England's second division.
McEachran is highly-rated at Stamford Bridge but the Blues are keen for him to continue developing and may even seek another temporary agreement next year after he returns from the Northeast.