Chelsea have often been lambasted for their loan policy (ITV via The Daily Mail).
During the 2018/19 season, they had 49 players at other clubs on a temporary basis, which would be enough to field four other sides. Most of them fail to make the grade, but there are some who fell through the net – Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bruyne are just two examples.
Mario Pasalic, currently on loan at Atalanta in Serie A, is one who may well be moving on at the end of the campaign, and his could be a departure that the Blues end up regretting.
Let’s take a look at how he is getting on in Italy…
The Stamford Bridge outfit paid just £2.25m – as per Transfermarkt – for his services in 2014 after he had broken on to the scene at Hajduk Split. In 30 matches in the Croatian league in 2013/14, he scored 11 goals and provided five assists, making Chelsea’s acquisition look like a shrewd piece of business.
However, he has not yet made a single appearance for the south-west London club. Instead, the £18m-valued man – as per Transfermarkt – has been shipped out on no less than five separate loan spells, appearing for Elche, AS Monaco, AC Milan, Spartak Moscow and now of course Atalanta, and during all of those previous spells he played at least 16 league matches.
In Bergamo, though, he has taken his game to the next level.
It was in 2018 when he made the decisive loan move to the Italian outfit, and he was a regular in the middle of the park for them in his first season.
He played 42 times in all competitions for La Dea, scoring eight goals and providing six assists as they qualified for the Champions League for the first time in their history. Not only that, they also reached the Italian Cup final, only to lose 2-0 to Lazio.
This season, he and his side have improved even further. They are once again on course to qualify for Europe’s premier club competition once more as they sit three points clear of fifth with a game in hand, whilst they have qualified for the quarter-finals of this year’s edition as well. In 32 matches, 25-year-old Pasalic has seven goals and seven assists, managing an average WhoScored rating across both competitions of 6.985. With over one shot, one key pass and one dribble per league game, he has played a vital role in their European march.
Unfortunately for Frank Lampard and co, it looks as though Atalanta are set to take up the €15m (£13.5m) purchase option in the loan deal, meaning that the Blues are likely to lose the 12-time Croatia international before he has even set foot on the pitch for them – even though he signed a new contract just last summer.
Could it be a sale they live to regret? The early signs are ominous.