Middlesbrough, fresh off their promotion near-miss, has taken a pair of young Chelsea players on loan to give them a full season of Championship experience, according to multiple reports including Goal.com.
Defenders Nathan Ake (pictured) and Tomas Kalas have agreed to join up with Aitor Karanka’s squad as they continue their development.
Ake, 20 years old, and Kalas, 22, have been given ample time to develop into top caliber players, being loaned out year after year slowly up the ranks. Kalas has history with Middlesbrough, having played there on a three-month loan last season.
Last season, Ake was used sparingly by Jose Mourinho at Chelsea as a safety net in case of injury, but he only got one match of Premier League playing time. Now, he’ll get a chance to start on a regular basis at the club level for a full season, something he hasn’t done yet despite starring at the U-21 level for Chelsea. Ake, a Dutch youth international, has long been a part of the Netherlands youth setup as well, making 53 appearances across all youth levels starting at the U-15 stage.
Kalas is just beginning to burst onto the senior stage as well. He has a pair of Premier League appearances with Chelsea in 2014, but told a Czech station at the time, only half-jokingly, “I am a player for training sessions. If they need a cone they put me there instead.” The 22-year-old hasn’t started regularly since spending the 2012/13 season on loan at Vitesse Arnham. He has one cap at the senior international level for the Czech Republic, coming back in a 2012 friendly against Slovakia.
The loan makes sense for Middlesbrough as well. Karanka played a heavily defensive tactical mentality last season, resulting in a Championship-low 37 goals conceded across their entire league season. Kalas is a central defender, while Ake also plays in the middle of the back line, but also can play the defensive midfield role, a position where players have excelled repeatedly under Mourinho’s tutelage.
English FA rules state a team can only take two players on domestic loan for a season, meaning Middlesbrough cannot loan any more Chelsea players so long as Kalas and Ake remain actively on their roster.