As featured on NewsNow: Football news

Ban? What ban? Chelsea to welcome THREE international young guns despite FIFA attempts

COMMENT: A transfer ban? For Chelsea? Do us a favour. Barcelona. PSG. Those past wrongdoers must be looking on with envy. They never had themselves as well organised as this...

Christian Pulisic we know about. Now bang in form as he prepares for a final game with Borussia Dortmund before formally registering with Chelsea. But he won't be the only young gun to arrive this summer on the back of stellar campaigns.

Ola Aina, currently of Torino, will start the preseason a Chelsea player. Urbano Cairo, the Toro president, learned as much a fortnight ago when trying to open negotiations about a permanent deal for the fullback. Chelsea weren't having it. Better yet for Aina. Maurizio Sarri wasn't having it. With his most trusted confidants singing the praises of Aina's progress under Walter Mazzarri this season, that was enough for the Chelsea manager to insist on a 'pause' being placed on negotiations.

At Toro, the Nigeria international has been a revelation. Aina outstanding in one of the great campaigns seen by Granata fans over the last decade.

"Aina is important for us," said Mazzarri last month. "And you know the wing-backs are important for me.

"If you ask me about Aina's future, I'll say this: he will become great. He just needs consistency."

And just a fortnight ago, Eddie Newton, Chelsea's 'loan coach', told the Turin press they believed Aina had discovered that "consistency".

"We have always known that Ola has exceptional physical and technical skills," said Newton. "He uses both feet, he is a fast guy relative to his ability. And stays focused for 90 minutes.

"In this last season, however, he has proven to us he can succeed. I am really proud of him because he managed to improve in this respect and I think we should consider him."

But for Sarri - and Newton - the wing-back isn't the only one. Indeed, we can even go a step higher.

Gian Piero Gasperini's Atalanta are enjoying a record breaking season. The Oribici on the brink of a first Champions League qualifying campaign. And at the heart of their surge since the New Year has been another Chelsea loanee: Mario Pasalic.

Now 24. Pasalic has been on the books at Chelsea for almost five years. But is yet to play a competitive game. However, after a superb five months under Gasperini, Sarri has requested he, like Aina, join the squad for preseason. The Croatian a key in Atalanta's midfield and their thrilling run to fourth place in Serie A.

"You're staying". Those were the orders from Gasperini in January as Pasalic and his agent, Marko Naletilic, considered their options. Cagliari and Bologna came forward - with Chelsea leaving the final decision to the player. But Gasperini's words were enough. And since that sit down after the 2-6 rout of Sassuolo before the New Year, Pasalic hasn't looked back.

"Personally, I always insisted not to change," Naletilic recalled. "There were interested clubs, in Serie A and abroad, but both the management and the coach never considered this hypothesis."

And while Naletilic has made soundings about Pasalic signing permanently this summer, the midfielder admits his one preseason under Sarri left a positive impression.

"In a week with them training in Australia, I got to breathe in the Sarri style of football: quality and aggression, possession and pressing, all combined beautifully.

“I don't regret leaving, because what good would it have done me to sit on the bench? I don't belong at Chelsea right now, or at any top club, because I still need to figure out if I can reach that level."

Certainly after this season, Pasalic has proved he's at that required "level". Helping Atalanta to a potential fourth place finish is proof of that.

Three places back are Torino, as they seek Europa League qualification. And in Germany, Dortmund could yet pip Bayern Munich for the title with a game to play.

So effectively, even with FIFA's intervention, Chelsea will be able to pluck three young, influential players, out of three of the most exciting, ground-breaking teams of the season.

And this is what Sarri was discussing last week when asked about those 40 loan players of Chelsea currently dotted around the world. The focus was closer to home. And understandably so. Tammy Abraham has broken goalscoring records at Aston Villa. Mason Mount has played his way into the England squad at Derby. And Rams teammate Fikayo Tomori was just named their Player of the Year.

But the Championship. Even this weekend's playoffs. It isn't Serie A. And it certainly isn't Italy's top seven.

"There are two or three players who have been out on loan this season who are 'interesting'," Sarri stated. "I do not want to name names now. But the level they have been playing at must be considered."

Ban? What ban? Aina and Pasalic will return to Chelsea as veterans from the top seven of Serie A. Pulisic potentially a title winner in Germany. The boards of Barca and PSG must be looking on with envy.


Tags
TransfersOpinionLoan Market
Chris Beattie
About the author

Chris Beattie

Have your say
×

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

  1. Go Ad-Free
  2. Faster site experience
  3. Support great writing
  4. Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free
×

Subscribe and go ad-free

For only $10 a year

Subscribe now
Launch Offer: 2 months free