Weighing Chelsea’s Options Regarding The Fading Patrick Bamford
Will Chelsea rescue Patrick Bamford from the misery of his Burnley loan? Probably, but there could be more complex matters afoot.
The prodigious young goalscorer has hit a wall at Turf Moor, with his Lancashire posting turning into a bit of a disaster. Sent out on a season-long loan by the Blues back in August, the 23-year-old has been given little more than half an hour of football – in the form of six ultra-late sub appearances. The fact he was nowhere near Sean Dyche’s FA Cup squad for the 0-0 third round draw at Sunderland suggests it may be all over. By not selecting him for the XI, and saving him from being cup tied by not even offering the two minutes he was given in the league at Manchester City last week, the signs are not good for the striker.
As I’ve written before: there is always a way of breaking a loan deal if at last two of the three parties involved want it to happen. And that is where this could get tied up in a little politics.
Only those who have seen the contract will know exactly what is in there: but there will be loan fees, and almost certainly some form of penalty were the deal to be broken. That would usually be expected to mean Burnley pay a penalty if they send Bamford home; while Chelsea send cash the other way if they call him back. The player stands to lose nothing financially, but the stakes are far higher career-wise.
Depending on where Bamford is mentally right now, and on what he has been told by Dyche: he will surely think the minor loss of face in asking Chelsea to release him from the deal will be heavily outweighed by the new opportunities breaking it would offer. Middlesbrough and Aitor Karanka, for whom he score 19 goals in the 2014/15 season, are already favourites to take him should the Burnley tie be broken.
The rules allow a player to be registered with a maximum of three clubs in a season, and play for only two of them, and that would not be a problem for Bamford – who has not kicked a ball for Blues. But over and above the issue of compensation payments to or from Burnley is the matter of relations between the two clubs – particularly with Chelsea still keen on moving for Michael Keane.
The 23-year-old defender has caught the eye of a number of clubs, and if Chelsea want to have preferred status in bidding for the player – either now or, more likely, in the summer – favours may be needed. Thus, we seem to have a situation where all three parties – Burnley, Chelsea and Bamford – are presently waiting for the others to blink first, before ending something that isn’t working.
For Bamford and for Chelsea, this will be seen as just one of those things. The striker has a long way yet to go before he will be considered even a back-up option for Chelsea’s first team, and goalscorers often develop later than other outfield players. More likely, given the Michy Batshuayi loan / Fernando Llorente switch that looks to be imminent with Swansea, Chelsea are trying to find a shop window for Bamford. Many have expressed high hopes for him and, while it isn’t time to write-off his Chelsea future, the chances don’t look great for anything but a profit to arise from his signing and long-term incubation.
But with another former hope, and victim of the loan system, about to return to Stamford Bridge – in the form of Josh McEachran, whose Brentford make the short trip in the FA Cup – any profit on Bamford will be seen as a long way off the worst that could happen.