Chelsea’s famous army lost one of its most experienced and outstanding generals this week, when Lucas Piazon left the club permanently and without a contract.
Piazon, who turns 27 next week, has been under contract at Stamford Bridge for almost a decade but has made just three appearances in that time.
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The winger, who went through the Sao Paulo youth system in his native Brazil, turned down interest from Juventus and signed a preliminary contract with the Blues in March 2011. He came to England in the summer and played for the reserves under-18s in January 2012. He then had a long and successful career with the first team.
Instead, he spent most of his time in Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany, as well as in the English second division.
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Of the 359 Premier League games Chelsea have played under Piazon’s stewardship, the Brazilian has only played one: an 8-0 win over Aston Villa in December 2012, in which he was sent off in the 74th minute. The player came off the bench in the 57th minute and still found time to pass to his compatriot Ramirez and stop a penalty that was saved by Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan.
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His other two first-team appearances were in the League Cup. Piazon made his debut under coach Roberto Di Matteo. He played 90 minutes in the 6-0 win over Wolves in the third round and helped set up Ryan Bertrand’s goal. He made his second and final appearance in the cup in the next round, when the Blues beat Manchester United 5-4 after extra time to reach the quarter-finals. He was replaced by Eden Hazard after 55 minutes.
After these three performances in England early in his career, Piazon never put on another suit for the Blues. Instead, he collected a total of seven loans from the club, landing at Malaga, Vitesse, Eintracht Frankfurt, Reading, Fulham, Chievo and Rio Avenue from 2013 until this year.
However, the Blues’ longest-serving player has now found a new home, joining Portuguese club Braga on a four-year contract.
Perhaps the saddest aspect of his transfer is that he would have qualified for his testimony at Chelsea if he had stayed a few more months. But at least his departure was marked by an emotional farewell message posted by Chelsea on social media.
Good luck, Lucas!
– Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) January 14, 2021
Piacon’s departure gives us the opportunity to highlight other prominent members of Chelsea’s formidable Credit Army, past and present. They are enduring souls who have dedicated most of their professional careers to the Blues while doing little more than camouflage in the first team photo.
According to the club, Chelsea currently have 28 players on loan, including former players such as Marco van Ginkel, Kenedy, Lewis Baker and Matt Miazga, all of whom are working elsewhere and wonder if they will ever get a call from Frank Lampard. And many more have been added over the years. Let’s refresh your memory.
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While Cesar Azpilicueta has officially inherited the title of Chelsea FC’s longest-serving player, Van Ginkel is taking on the Army on loan, which was originally signed in July 2013. After two seasons at Stoke City and Milan, the Dutch midfielder joined PSV Eindhoven for three different spells in January 2016. The 28-year-old has signed a new contract with Chelsea until June 2020 after making just four first-team appearances in seven years.
Marin has already been hailed as Germany’s Messi after a breakthrough season at Werder Bremen that saw him win several caps, including the 2010 World Cup. Unfortunately, the winger then made the mistake of signing for Chelsea in 2012, for whom he made just 16 appearances in five years – four of which were on loan at Sevilla, Fiorentina (where he made no appearances), Anderlecht and Trabzonspor. At the age of 26, Marin eventually left Bridge in 2016 and signed for Olympiacos. He now plays for Al Ahly in the Saudi Pro League.
Another little wingman with a penchant for big things. In 2007, Chelsea were about to apply to FIFA for a transfer ban for buying 18-year-old Kakuta from French club Lens, although they later won an appeal against him. In retrospect, it wasn’t worth it, as Kakuta made just five appearances for the Blues in six years. In 2011 he moved to his neighbours in Fulham on a loan and has performed seven times in five years. The Frenchman found a new home in 2016 when he joined Sevilla for £2.5million after spending the season on loan with the Spanish team. Today, at 29 years old, Kakuta is back where it all began, at Lens…. for a while.
Dejak is one of the great nomads of the Chelsea Loan Army. He played at eight clubs in eight countries after signing for the Blues in 2010 at the age of 17. The Bosnian goalkeeper played for AC Horsens in the Danish Superliga from 2010 to 2018 and is a member of Chelsea’s first team. Meanwhile he has made trips to the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Portugal, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, France and Belgium.
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For a time, it seemed that Bamford would never escape the feudal army after accidentally becoming a prominent member. The striker, who was a wonderwuzzi in the making, first joined Chelsea FC from Nottingham Forest in 2012 at the age of 18, before falling into a seemingly endless maelstrom of loans at various shy clubs in the Football League and Premier League. First MK Dons, then Derby County, then Middlesbrough, then Crystal Palace, then Norwich City, then Burnley, before Boro returned in January 2017 and broke the cycle with a permanent transfer fee of £5.5m. A year and a half later, Bamford signed for Leeds’ Marcelo Bielsa and the rest, as they say, is a historic promotion to Ligue 1 and 10 goals in 17 games that season.
Kalas made (some) headlines in the summer of 2019, when he finally took up the torch as Chelsea FC’s oldest player, leaving the club he joined at 17 to join Bristol City for good. The Czech defender signed for the Blues in 2010 and was immediately loaned out to Sigma Olomouc, serving as a great model for the nine years he then spent at Vitesse, Cologne, Middlesbrough and Fulham. By the end of his absence he had played just four games for Chelsea, including a 2-0 win at Anfield in 2014, which will forever be remembered for Steven Gerrard’s infamous absence.
Much has been written about 20-year-old Miyazgui’s arrival at Chelsea in January 2016, when the American international defender made the switch from the New York Red Bulls to the Premier League. But expectations cooled somewhat when, after playing just 135 minutes for Chelsea in the 2015/16 season (spread over two appearances), the centre-back was loaned out to Vitesse Arnhem, the Blues’ unofficial outpost in the Netherlands, for the next two years. Miyazga then moved to Nantes for the 2018/19 season, where he made just eight appearances before being loaned out to Reading for the 2019-20 season. He is currently on loan to Anderlecht in Belgium, where he will remain until the end of the 2020-21 season. That gives him an extra year to make a place for himself before his contract at Chelsea expires.