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Andrey Santos: To loan or not to loan? Chelsea’s new Rolls Royce

Andrey Santos

Chelsea announced the signing of Brazilian midfielder Andrey Santos from Vasco da Gama back in the 2023 January transfer window. Although this was a season to forget for the Premier League club, the £600m spent on players provided rival fans with extra ammunition.

On the surface to many, Santos was just another signing on a long list who had to prove themselves. The 19-year-old looked like another youngster set to spend his future on loan away from the club. A return on loan back to Vasco da Gama in March until the end of June looked to be the first of many loans for the Brazilian - although this was a sensible decision to continue his development.

However, now back with his parent club, new manager Mauricio Pochettino has been prepared to give him an opportunity. After two pre-season friendlies, Chelsea fans and the rest of the Premier League have had a small glimpse of what to expect from the Brazilian - and there’s been plenty to like.

Thriving on the international stage

Rewind back to February this year, Santos was part of the U20 Brazilian squad which lifted the South American Championships for the 12th time. The midfielder not only collected a winners medal, but he also finished as the tournament’s joint top goalscorer with six goals.

The other player? Well that was Vitor Roque. I’m sure you’ve heard of him by now.

Back in his own age category, Andrey Santos was a monster. His ability was clear to see and he stood out amongst the best youngsters in South America trying to make a name for themselves. Yet it was he, and Vitor Roque, who stole the show.

The captain showed real leadership all over the pitch. Whether it be crunching tackles down the channels, winning and driving the ball into the opponent's box, or teeing up Vitor Roque - Andrey Santos certainly had the tournament he could have only dreamed of.

More impressively, though, was his finishing. Whether it was headers from crosses or driving the ball into dangerous areas and guiding the ball home, Santos showed he was much more than a midfielder who had to protect his defence.

We kind of already knew that already with Santos having scored eight goals in 37 appearances with Vasco before Chelsea moved quickly to secure him.

Santos’ skillset

Santos probably wouldn’t have expected his Chelsea “unofficial” debut to be against Wrexham, but it provided him with the perfect opportunity to showcase his ability to eagerly anticipating fans.

There was no real surprise to see how comfortable he was in possession, but key passes through Wrexham’s defence caught the eye. He constantly looked to play the ball forward, rather than merely offer the ball back to his defence. Very assured in possession, Santos was allowed the time to pick his options, and ultimately impressed.

Brighton on Saturday night/Sunday evening was to prove to be more insightful. Yet Santos picked up where he left off, continuing to play his game with the same composure he displayed against Wrexham.

Once again, the 19-year-old was keen to receive the ball from his defence and move the ball forward into either attacking areas, or pick out spaces in which his attacking players could find room to exploit.

His footballing brain is there to see at such a young age, possessing a calm manner in tight areas but also wanting to press high to win the ball back in the opponent's final third.

These standout qualities Santos has may just be what Chelsea’s midfield has been lacking and will therefore look to utilise him earlier than expected, rather than loan him out for another season.

Food for thought for the new boss

After his short stint in the US, Chelsea have produced two entertaining victories against Wrexham and Brighton. In both games, Andry Santos has both started and impressed - giving Pochettino plenty to think about. Is there a need to dive back into the transfer market to secure a defensive midfielder, or has he realised Chelsea’s next star no. six is right in front of him?

There’s also been plenty of debate about whether he can play higher up the pitch in a Chelsea shirt, too. As he continues to get more minutes to impress, there’s no doubt he can showcase his attacking prowess having proven it in a Brazilian shirt earlier this year.

With Pochettino revamping Chelsea’s squad, players like Andrey Santos may be the breath of fresh air required in order to erase the blues from the 2022/23 campaign.


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