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Why Chelsea's loan strategy is the stuff of GENIUS

COMMENT: On Sunday, Chelsea should be crowned champions a good four wins ahead of second place Manchester City. And in terms of transfer market strategy, the gulf is just as wide.

The management of Chelsea's transfer policy is simply a class above - if not two - the rest of the Premier League.

The purists may whinge about the 30-plus players farmed out on-loan this season. But they've simply adapted to the needs of football today.

Financial Fair Play (FFP), squad limits, foreign quotas... they've all been imposed on Premier League clubs - and no-one has navigated the minefield of squad building better than Chelsea.

Piet de Visser, the famed Dutch scout and long-time adviser to Blues owner Roman Abramovich, touched on the topic this week.

"They pick up young talent, knowing exactly who is running around in Ghana and Colombia. Chelsea has earned in recent years more than a hundred million (from this strategy)."

And that's the genius of their transfer policy. Jose Mourinho has his title-winning squad. Joe Edwards has an U19 team which has just won the UEFA Youth League and FA Youth Cup. And outside of Cobham, Chelsea have other clubs transforming their players into multi-million pound assets - and these foreign teams are paying for the privilege!

Thorgan Hazard, who just signed permanently for Borussia Monchengladbach for €8 million, actually went to the Germans initially for a loan fee of €1.3 million last summer. Marco van Ginkel is spending the year with AC Milan for almost €1 million, as is Lucas Piazon at Eintracht Frankfurt.

Chelsea sold Kevin de Bruyne to VfL Wolfsburg for £18 million after his game had been developed in the Bundesliga on-loan with Werder Bremen. Everton made Romelu Lukaku their record signing to the tune of £28 million after a year on-loan with them. The previous season, he accelerated his development playing for West Bromwich Albion's first team.

In effect, Chelsea have rival clubs doing the heavy lifting. Those loaned out return in the summer a better player, with a higher price-tag and will either be added to Mourinho's squad, or sold on for a hefty profit (Hazard's fee was 16 times what Chelsea paid for him) to keep ahead of FFP.

This season, despite the huge outlay for Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa and Juan Cuadrado, Chelsea's trading will show a profit - and that's without counting De Bruyne's sale last year.

It's the sort of plan hatched by players of Championship Manager. Only Chelsea are actually do it for real - and succeeding.

You just wonder where the club would be if Abramovich had accepted Michael Emenalo's resignation almost two years ago. It is the low-key Nigerian who has been driving this strategy since his appointment as technical director in 2011.

Upon learning of Mourinho's imminent return, Emenalo offered to resign, wary of the Portuguese's reluctance to work with football directors. But Abramovich was having none of it. He insisted Emenalo stay and Mourinho accept his input.

Since then, the working relationship has been smooth. Emenalo being happy to sit in the background and drive strategy as Mourinho receives the plaudits. The Nigerian is no Jorge Valdano.

And the work doesn't stop. It emerged last month that Chelsea are seeking to expand their network into Belgium.

A partnership in Holland with Vitesse Arnhem has been ongoing for five years, seeing the likes of Nemanja Matic, Patrick van Aanholt (now of Sunderland) and Slobodan Rajkovic (now with Hamburg) spend time with them.

Emenalo is now understood to be seeking something similar in Belgium with Excelsior Mouscron.

When the season ends. Those out on-loan will return to be assessed by Mourinho, Emenalo and the club's coaching staff. But the manager has spoken of being happier working with those already at Cobham.

It's significant that Mourinho, when hinting of his plans for next season, talked up the prospect of adding several of their UEFA Youth League winners to his senior squad. There was no mention of Van Ginkel, Tomas Kalas (Cologne) nor Lucas Piazon (Eintracht Frankfurt).

They're still valued by management. But not in the traditional sense. It's more than likely they, among several of their fellow loanees, will be used to balance the trade sheet this summer.

The purists can moan, but you won't find a better football man than De Visser. If Chelsea's strategy is something he celebrates, then that should be good enough for any Blue.


P2) Stipe Perica: The Croatian star Chelsea fans will only see in Watford colours

P3) Who? Five Chelsea loanees you may never have heard of

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Chris Beattie
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Chris Beattie

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