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CHELSEA LOANEES: How are key Blue loan stars fairing in 2015/16?

Each and every year, Chelsea are known for sending a plethora of talented young players on loan to clubs all around Europe.

In the 2015/16 season, it is of course no different with no less than 32 players scattered throughout both rival clubs and those with a close working relationship at time of writing.

Some have been sent away from Cobham because there is no room for them in the current squad but others are abroad developing their game at senior level with the view of returning to SW6 a more accomplished player.

Tribalfootball.com has shone the spotlight on those from CFC who find themselves wearing an alternate strip to the famous royal blue.


Mario Pasalic - AS Monaco

The highly-rated Croatian midfielder is enjoying his time in the principality with Monaco.

20-year-old Pasalic has featured 24 times for Leonardo Jardim in what has been a successful first half of the campaign.

Pasalic has hit the back of the net on seven occasions, including two goals in the Champions League against Young Boys and Valencia in qualifying.

With Monaco chasing the behinds of tearaway Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain, the former Hajduk Split young gun has been used more sparingly of late, however, he did manage to net a vital goal in the eventual 3-1 win over Evian in the Coupe de France just over a week ago.

Pasalic is already a two-time Croatia international, which at this early stage of his career is no mean feat, received some fantastic experience during his season-long spell in Spain with Elche in 2014/15 but has found competition a little more difficult at the Stade Louis II with the likes of Joao Moutinho, Jeremy Toulalan and Thomas Lemar competing for central midfield berths.

Nevertheless, Pasalic has given us some insight in to why Chelsea paid £3million for him in the summer of 2014 and I'm sure the Blues will expect a much more mature player when he returns to Stamford Bridge this May.


Lewis Baker - Vitesse Arnhem

Baker is one of the 'Vitesse crew' that Chelsea has on their books.

The Dutch club has five Blues youngsters on loan at the GelreDome and Baker has been one of the most consistent out of the handful.

The 20-year-old midfielder, along with Dom Solanke, Izzy Brown, Nathan and Danilo Pantic, have the Vitas sitting sixth on the Dutch Eredivisie table, just four points in arrears of third-placed Feyenoord at time of writing.

Baker has played 19 times in the league, scoring three goals, while adding a KNVB Beker appearance to his tally as well as two in Europa League qualifying in defeats to Southampton back in July and August.

The former MK Dons loan star has not started in the league since November but has thankfully been given two substitute showings under new boss Rob Maas following the sacking of Peter Bosz in early January.

Baker has come through the Chelsea academy and the Blues hierarchy will be hoping his 12 months spent with Vitesse helps prepare him to take the next step back in London.


Nathan Ake - Watford

This guy has taken all before him in the Premier League this season.

The 20-year-old Dutch defender has enjoyed a stellar campaign with Watford who have surprised all with their performances in the first half (and a bit) of the 2015/16 season.

Ake, who made five appearances for Reading in the Championship last term, has racked up 15 league outings for Quique Sanchez Flores' Hornets and has almost made the left-back slot his own at Vicarage Road.

The Holland U21 international has made life difficult for experienced Greek left-back Jose Holebas who has started only six times, showing what an enormous opinion Flores has of the youngster.

His defining moment this season came when he scored the opening goal in the 3-0 home win over Liverpool but it has been his defensive nous which has been key in what has already been an enormously fruitful stint in Hertfordshire.


Jeremie Boga - Rennes

Boga has impressed while on loan at French side Rennes.

He scored his first professional goal in their 2-2 draw at Reims in November, showing his class and potential as he nutmegged a defender before slotting the ball past the goalkeeper in what was also his first start for the Red and Blacks.

Just two months previously, Jose Mourinho showed faith in him by handing the 19-year-old French midfielder a contract until 2019.

Since his landmark goal, Boga has gone on to score another in a draw against Lorient, taking his tally to a pair of goals in 14 Ligue 1 outings plus his involvement in four cup fixtures.

Boga, who signed for the Blues as a trainee in 2008, was on the bench on the last day of the 2014/15 season, but could not quite land his Blues debut but is enjoying a positive spell with Rennes who find themselves fourth in France's top flight.

The France U19 international will be hoping to impress the reigning Premier League champions in the second half of the season and with two of his four starts coming in 2016 for Rolland Curbs, he is well on his way to doing so.


Andreas Christensen - Borussia Monchengladbach

The Danish youngster is considered to be a hot prospect for the future and has already played twice for his national team.

Christensen was a part of Borussia Monchengladbach's 3-1 win over Pep Guardiola's Bayern Munich in December, and he proved his class to shut out Robert Lewandowski and Thomas Muller in their shock win.

The defender has played 23 times for the Bundesliga side, 15 of which have been starts in the league, and featured in the Champions League against the likes of Manchester City, Juventus and Sevilla, helping to produce a shutout in Turin in October.

Former Brondby youth product Christensen has played the full 90 minutes in Borussia's last 10 matches, and he is expected to feature more throughout the rest of the season as Andre Schubert looks to put more faith in the emerging talent.

Gladbach lost their opening five matches of the season, shipping 12 goals, but have since lost just twice in the league having only kept two clean sheets for the entire campaign. During that time they have won nine times and drawn two in what has been a remarkable fightback of which Christensen has been a key part following a very shaky start.

With Chelsea's defence now getting on top of things after a disastrous beginning, Christensen can only hope to keep putting his best foot forward for Gladbach as they go after an unthinkable Champions League spot given their position early in the season.


Dom Solanke - Vitesse Arnhem

Dom Solanke is a highly-regarded striker who was awarded England's youth player of the year for 2014, and even got to train with the Three Lions senior squad alongside Wayne Rooney and co. when Daniel Sturridge was injured.

This season, he has fully cemented his place as one of the county's top young forwards while on loan at Vitesse Arnhem.

Solanke has scored five times in 15 starts for the Eredivisie club, with his most recent coming in a 5-1 thrashing of FC Twente a week before Christmas.

The enormously talented 18-year-old is making his name heard not only with the Chelsea hierarchy, but also with Roy Hodgson's England setup, and is expected to one day lead the attacking line for his country.

Although that day is still a while away as Solanke continues to work on his game at the elite level in Holland which is a far cry from the rigours of the Premier League.

His talent is such that he has been likened to Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic by former Vitesse defender Ferdi Vierklau, who said: "He's clinical. Sometimes, with the most impossible balls he knows how to do something beautiful from nothing.

"In that way, he is reminiscent of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He's only 18-years-old and already doing so well.

"I expect he will only play one season as Chelsea will take him back and may want to loan him to an English club."

If Solanke continues to score goals like the Paris Saint-Germain striker, it will only be a matter of time before he gets his chance with Chelsea as he strives to get everything out of his time spent with Vitesse.

"I'd like to do it as soon as I can," said Solanke recently regarding breaking into the Chelsea first team.

"That's the dream of everyone at the academy - that's why everyone is there.

"That's what everyone is working towards so everyone is trying to do it as soon as possible, but I am keeping my head down, keeping working towards that goal."


With assistance from Joe Baker


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Andrew Slevison
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