Baker Showing Promise At Vitesse
Vitesse Arnhem’s Gelredome has become a common destination for Chelsea’s upcoming talent in rec...
Vitesse Arnhem’s Gelredome has become a common destination for Chelsea’s upcoming talent in recent seasons and no less than five academy stars are developing their talents in the Eredivisie this season. Gaining first team experience in the Dutch league is a fantastic opportunity for young Blues players; as far as the class of 2016 is concerned, Lewis Baker stands out as the most encouraging prospect.
The 20-year-old had already dipped his toe into the water of senior football courtesy of last term’s short loan spells at Sheffield Wednesday and MK Dons, but this season long deal has given Baker a chance to prove his worth. While the young Englishman is still some way short of being ready for a regular role at Stamford Bridge, he has certainly grabbed this opportunity with both hands.
Baker is a skilled central midfield with great energy and a keen eye for goal. Dutch football experts at onlinewedden.com pinpoint his ability to pick a defence-splitting pass as a telling attribute, citing this as the main reason behind Rob Mass’s continued faith in the youngster, who has started more than two-thirds of the Dutch club’s league fixtures.
There’s no question that Baker’s form has been the most consistent out of the five stars currently on loan at the Gelredome. That’s not to suggest that Nathan, Isaiah Brown and Danilo Pantic haven’t enjoyed moments of promise. Meanwhile, 18-year-old Dominic Solanke has done well to hit five league goals too. However, it’s the dominance and maturity of Baker that has really impressed at the heart of a three-man midfield. Those performances haven’t gone unnoticed by the England setup either as the Chelsea man gained promotion to Gareth Southgate’s U21s.
After over a decade at the Cobham, the transition to first-team football has certainly benefited Baker over the past year to 18 months, especially since plying his trade on Dutch soil. If he can help guide the Vitas back to Europa League football, he could be a great shout to extend his stay by another season on 2016/17.
Either way, this year in the Eredivisie has helped the midfielder grow in stature and confidence. Regardless of who Roman Abramovich hires as Guus Hiddink’s successor, the new Chelsea boss will inherit a far better Lewis Baker than the one that left for Arnhem last summer. For that reason alone, this loan spell has to be considered a success.
In truth, Baker is unlikely to break into the first team next season and will probably be loaned out again next term. Whether it’s back to Vitesse or to a Premier League rival, it could be another huge step en route to a successful career with the Blues.