Back in August and ahead of the 2015/16, I selected my dream team of the best English footballers abroad.
Now the season is over for the majority of the players in the side, it’s time to see who were the high achievers and who deserves a stint in detention..
Goalkeeper: Matt Jones (Tondela, Philadelphia Union, Bethlehem Steel) C-
Appearances: 11 (Tondela: 10, Union: 0, Steel: 1) Cleans sheets: 1
The season started off perfectly for Matt Jones at new loan side Tondela. His was the side’s first choice goalkeeper as they prepared for a challenging season looking for survival in Portugal’s top division. However, much like the previous season with parent club Belenenses, Jones was replaced in the starting line-up midway through the season.
It was an unfortunate moment of déjà vu for Jones but he didn’t waste any time trying to make a return to first team football. After six-and-a-half seasons in Portugal, the 29-year-old joined MLS side Philadelphia Union in February on loan, returning to the States seven years after leaving college.
Unfortunately for Jones, he has been unable to force his way into the Union’s starting team, having to make do with warming the bench so far this season.
The shot-stopper has made one appearance since the move to America, playing for the Union’s affiliate side Bethlehem Steel in the country’s third-tier, USL.
Left back: Ashley Cole (AS Roma, LA Galaxy) D
Appearances: 10 (AS Roma: 0, Galaxy: 10) Goals: 0
Ashley Cole’s year-and-a-half stint with Italian side AS Roma was underwhelming, to say the least. The former England stalwart managed just eleven league appearances during his time in Italy and he did not feature once for the capital city side this season.
This led to Cole terminating his contract early and joining Steven Gerrard at LA Galaxy. His time with the Galaxy so far as been solid without being too impressive. He has missed only a couple of MLS games so far this season as LA’s good start to the season has seen them lose just one game in eleven. However, the 35-year-old left back did pick up his first red card for more than four years earlier in the season.
The 2015/16 period has been disappointing for Cole but the signs are promising that he can end his career on a high with the Galaxy. He was understandably rusty on his arrival in the States but a good run of games now could see him and Gerrard in line for silverware come the end of the year.
Centre back: Taylor Moore (Lens, Lens II) C
Appearances: 23 (Lens: 6, Lens II: 17) Goals: 0
At the age of 19, Taylor Moore has a huge future ahead of him and this season was another big learning curve for the talented defender. The centre-half started the season with Lens’ first team, featuring in the club’s first game of the season in Ligue 2.
However, despite making three appearances for the first team in August, Moore returned to Lens’ second side in the fourth-tier for more regular action. The rest of 2015 saw Moore switch between the two sides.
At the turn of the year, the England U19 international settled in a regular starting spot with Lens II as they looked to battle relegation to the country’s fifth tier. With two games remaining for Lens II this season, they face an uphill battle to survive but with Moore at the back, they have every chance of retaining their status in the fourth tier. A relegation would not be disastrous for Moore though, as he looks set for a future with the first team.
Centre back: Charlie I’Anson (Valencia B) C
Appearances: 20 Goals: 1
Back in August, I predicted Charlie I’Anson to finally get a prolonged shot in Elche’s first team following their relegation to the Segunda Division but instead, the 22-year-old defender joined Valencia’s B team in the third division.
The move meant Charlie would remain in the same division as he ended the 2014/15 season, following his successful loan spell with Real Oviedo in the third tier that year.
The former Grimsby defender made 20 appearances this season, making eleven starts and scoring one goal in a 2-0 win over Badalona in April. His side achieved a respectable 8th place finish
Right back: Todd Kane (NEC, on loan from Chelsea) B
Appearances: 34 Goals: 1
Todd Kane’s fourth season out on loan from Chelsea at his fifth different loan side could well be his most successful to date. The 22-year-old was a regular for NEC throughout the campaign, making 34 appearances, 32 of which were starts.
NEC were in for a difficult season following promotion to the Eredivisie but Kane’s side made light work of survival in their first season back in the top tier, finishing tenth and only four points away from the Europa League play-off spots.
However, the season was not to have a happy ending for Kane who suffered a cruel blow to what had been a very impressive season from the young defender. At the end of April in a match against PEC Zwolle, Kane suffered an ACL injury, curtailing his loan spell with NEC and potentially keeping him out for four to six months.
Despite the injury, Kane’s year with NEC cannot go unnoticed and with Chelsea suffering defensively this season, his return to fitness later in the year could coincide with a place in the first team next season
Left midfield: Andrew Driver (De Graafschap) C-
Appearances: 29 Goals: 4
From a personal point of view, Andrew Driver’s first season with De Graafschap in the Netherlands could be classed as a success. The former Hearts and Houston Dynamo winger made 29 appearances and scored four goals and it was reported that he was “loving life” in Holland.
However, that is were the positives end. After just one season back in the Eredivisie, De Graafschap were relegated back to the second tier following defeat to Go Ahead Eagles in the relegation/promotion play-offs. Driver played in both legs but was unable to prevent defeat. It was a case of sweet revenge for the Eagles who avenged their defeat to De Graafschap in the play-offs least season.
For Driver though, his time in Holland could be over with his one-year deal the ‘Super Farmers’ expiring at the end of next month.
Centre midfield: John Bostock (OH Leuven) C
Appearances: 27 Goals: 7
It was a similar case for John Bostock in Belgium with OH Leuven. In his first season in the Belgian top flight, the former Spurs midfielder continued his impressive form from the previous year by firing seven goals in just 25 league appearances.
But the 24-year-old’s goals from midfield were to be not enough and Leuven were relegated back to the second tier at the first time of asking. It wasn’t without trying though, Bostock’s men finished just a single point off survival.
Nonetheless, Bostock’s ‘stock’ continues to rise in Belgium and after two seasons with Leuven he now has 20 goals in 52 starts, a record not to be sniffed at from a midfielder.
Since my season preview though, Bostock’s status as an English player abroad has come under threat. The former England youth international has committed his international allegiance to Trinidad & Tobago and although he is yet to earn a cap, he did earn a call-up to the T&T national side earlier in the year.
Centre midfield: Chuks Aneke (Zulte Waregem) D
Appearances: 12 Goals: 2
After a promising start to his career overseas with Zulte Waregem last year, Chuks Aneke’s career has stalled significantly. The former Arsenal midfielder made 38 appearances for Waregem last season and was looking build on that this season, starting the first three games of the 2015/16 season.
But a promising start to the season did not reach its full potential. Aneke managed to add just nine more appearance throughout the rest of the season and he did not play another game after being substituted at half time in the 3-2 defeat against Standard Liege in November.
Following his injury problems this season, Aneke now looks like he is going to be released. It is an unfortunate turn of events for the former Crewe Alexandra loanee, after his first season in Belgium created such an impression.
Right midfield: Izzy Brown (Vitesse, on loan from Chelsea) C+
Appearances: 24 Goals: 1
Izzy Brown was one of three Englishmen who were loaned out to Vitesse from Chelsea at the start of the 2015/16 season and although he made the fewest appearances out of the three, the impact that the spell in Holland will have on his development has the potential to be priceless.
Previous to this season, Brown’s first team football experiences amounted to 15 minutes of Premier League action, the culmination of two substitute appearances for West Brom and Chelsea.
Now the 19-year-old has an entire Eredivisie season under his belt as well as experience in the Europa League. Brown made 24 appearances in total, 14 of which were starts, and bagged his first ever senior goal in the 2-1 win over Roda JC back in March.
Attacking midfield: Ravel Morrison (Lazio) D
Appearances: 8 Goals: 0
It was always going to be difficult for Ravel Morrison to make the breakthrough at Lazio this season, a side challenging for European football, but he will be disappointed his first year in Italy resulted in just one start and only 58 minutes of Serie A action.
With Serie A rules permitting eleven substitutes to be named per match, the 23-year-old gained plenty of experience being involved in a match-day squad.
However, out of the 24 times Morrison made the bench for Lazio in Serie A, only four times did he get the call from Stefano Pioli or Simone Inzaghi to come on.
The former West Ham midfielder’s only start of the season came in November last year, where he lasted 75 minutes in the 2-0 win away to Rosenborg in the Europa League.
His first-team chances were even further limited from January onwards after Lazio’s president Claudio Lotito stated Morrison rejected the chance of a loan deal and more first team football with Serie B side Salernitana, a side also owned by Lotito.
At the age of 23, Morrison needs to be playing regular first team football and he may need to make the move away from the Stadio Olimpico in order to achieve that.
Striker: Dominic Solanke (Vitesse, on loan from Chelsea) B+
Appearances: 26 Goals: 7
The youngest of Chelsea loanees at Vitesse, Dominic Solanke was still 17 when he made his debut for Vitesse at the start of the season. Just a week later, he scored his first ever senior goal in a 4-1 win over Cambuur.
In total, Solanke fired seven goals in 26 matches in what was his first ever season of senior football. A very impressive return from the youngster who has been tipped for the top ever since he fired 12 goals in nine games for Chelsea U19s in their 2014/15 UEFA Youth League campaign.
Solanke’s goals saw him finish as Vitesse’s third top scorer as his adopted side finished ninth in the league.
The 18-year-old now returns to Chelsea with a very bright future ahead of him.
Goalkeeper: Luke Steele (Panathinaikos) B
Appearances: 35 Clean sheets: 16
Another fine season for the shot-stopper as Panathinaikos finished second in the Greek Super League and are now on course to achieve Champions League qualification in the UEFA play-offs.
Left back: James Lawrence (Trenčín) B
Appearances: 20 Goals: 2
Suffered from injuries so played less than he would have wanted but still managed to score his first senior goals as Trenčín celebrated another league and cup double.
Left back: Jordan Mustoe (Westerlo) C-
Appearances: 19 Goals: 0
Was in and out of the team as Westerlo earned Belgian Pro League survival by a single point.
Centre back: Myles Anderson (L’Aquila, Lupa Castelli Romani) E
Appearances: 15 (L’Aquila: 11, Lupa: 4) Goals: 0
Struggled for game time in Italy’s third tier and even a loan move could not secure regular football. Both sides Anderson featured for finished either in a relegation spot or a relegation play-off spot.
Centre midfield: Lewis Baker (Vitesse, on loan from Chelsea) B+
Appearances: 34 Goals: 5
A very productive season out on loan. A regular in the Vitesse side throughout the season and contributed goals too. Currently performing for England U21s in the Toulon Tournament.
Striker: Gary Noel (First Vienna) B
Appearances: 27 Goals: 12
Another productive season in Austria’s third tier for Gary Noel. Finished as the league’s fourth top scorer as his side only missed out on promotion by way of goal difference.
Striker: Osayamen Osawe (Hallescher) C+
Appearances: 39 Goals: 10
Played every league game in Germany’s third tier for Hallescher as he managed his best return for a season.