Add Patrick van Aanholt’s name to the list of prospects that didn’t make an impact at Chelsea. With the Dutch left back on his way to Sunderland, the only question is whether the Blues got enough return on their investment.
That’s kind of the point, right? Chelsea goes around the globe, sucks up a slew of talent, with only a few players destined to impact the senior team. The rest will be sold, hopefully at a significant profit, after benefitting from developing with the Blues.
With van Aanholt’s fee undisclosed, it’s unclear whether Chelsea was able to make its money back. The club had put five years of development into the two-time Netherlands international, and while some of that cost may have been offset with loan spells at Coventry City, Newcastle, Leicester City, Wigan, and Vitesse, there’s little about van Aanholt’s recent history that suggests he’d garner a large fee. If the fee is close to $5 million (as one popular site suggests would be fair), the return on van Aanholt is negligible.
That’s not to say van Aanholt isn’t talented. Only 23 years old, van Aanholt was in Louis van Gaal’s provisional squad for this summer’s World Cup. In two-and-a-half seasons at Vitesse, he made 69 starts, scoring five times while helping his team qualify for Europe in 2012-13. While it’s always difficult to predict how a defender will adjust to the Premier League (particularly coming from the Netherlands), van Aanholt looks like a good acquisition for Sunderland, particular with Marcos Alonso’s return still in doubt.
For Chelsea, van Aanholt becomes a player that didn’t work out, neither cracking the senior squad nor likely drawing a large fee. Yet given the range of probable fees, the gamble may not have cost much, either. When your prospects become commodities, this is one possible result.