This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Chelsea may not have as many players out on loan as they have done in the past, but there are still plenty who are contracted to the Blues plying their trade at other clubs across Europe.
Overall, there are 27 loanees. In England, Conor Gallagher is doing well at Charlton Athletic having scored five goals in his first 16 Championship games for the Addicks, for example, whilst Tiemoue Bakayoko has been one of AS Monaco’s more impressive performers this term.
24-year-old Mario Pasalic, though, is going under the radar at Atalanta. The 11-time Croatia international has appeared in all but one game for the Oribici so far this campaign as they continue to perform well in Serie A after qualifying for the Champions League for the first time in their history.
They were drawn with Manchester City in the group stage of Europe’s premier club competition and were soundly beaten at the Etihad Stadium. However, at the San Siro, where they are playing all of their home games in the competition this term, they were far better, managing a 1-1 draw.
£9m-valued Pasalic – as per Transfermarkt – was a revelation against Pep Guardiola’s side, picking up a game-leading 8.18 WhoScored rating. That was made all the more impressive by the fact he was playing up front despite being a central midfielder by nature.
He proved to be a constant menace for City’s backline, managing to dribble past his opponents on six separate occasions, and he fully deserved the goal he grabbed.
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The former Hajduk Split man, who has previously been dubbed the next Luka Modric, is in his second year with the Italian club. Last season, he scored five goals and provided three assists in the country’s top tier as they made history.
Chelsea will surely be impressed by his form, and there may even have been hope that he could make the grade at Stamford Bridge had it not been for the purchase option in the short-term deal, which is said to be worth €15m (£12.8m).
Given his versatility, and ability to perform against the top teams as he did against City, he would have been a valuable addition to Chelsea. If he continues to perform in such a way, though, then Atalanta will surely exercise that clause.
Should they do so, it could prove to be a costly mistake by the team from SW6.