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Exclusive: Omeruo defends Chelsea 'loan army' amid transfer ban

Chelsea defender Kenneth Omeruo has defended the club's 'loan army', arguing the policy allows players to gain valuable senior experience.

Former Blues technical director Michael Emenalo was the brainchild behind the system, which every summer sees the club allow a number of teenagers and young players to join clubs around the world.

As it stands, the club's current squadron consists of 42 players. Some are newly signed, some have spent years away, while most have never played a game for the club.

There has been some success over the years, with Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Andreas Christensen and Victor Moses all spending time away before breaking into the first-team.

What the system represents to its critics is another example of how elite clubs, by using their scouting and monetary resources to lure the world's brightest talents, can dominate over their smaller competitors.

However, one proponent of the system is Omeruo, who is currently with Leganes in his sixth loan spell since joining Chelsea from Standard Liege in 2012.

The Nigeria international has been impressive in Spain, having started 20 consecutive La Liga matches under former Southampton boss Mauricio Pellegrino. An option to make the loan deal permanent has been included, with Omeruo stating his intent to remain with Los Pepineros.

Despite not having made an appearance for Chelsea, the dominant centre-back thinks the club are providing their players with an opportunity to gain experience at first-team level, but added that being part of the army for too long can be "tiring".

"It is good for the players to go on multiple loans because if you play in the Under 21s in Chelsea, you really don't get a lot of experience doing that," Omeruo told Tribalfootball in an exclusive interview.

"But going out on loan, you meet people, you play in different leagues, improve yourself and you know different culture.

"It is very good for players to go on loans and I am a good example. I don't wait around for them to tell me to go on loan, I just look for a club who wants me and I go.

"But I think too much of it becomes tiring."

The loan army potentially pays big dividends for Chelsea should the one-year transfer ban recently handed down by FIFA be upheld.

The sport's governing body have prevented the Premier League giants from signing players until the summer of 2020 after finding them guilty of breaching rules about signing minors.

Unlike in other cases, namely with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, FIFA have decided not to suspend the sanction while the appeal process is ongoing.

Chelsea's appeal will be heard by a tribunal on April 11.

Should the ban remain in place, the west London club would be able to utilise their 42-strong loan army, which includes the likes of Tiemoue Bakayoko and Alvaro Morata.

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Andrew Maclean
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