Gael Kakuta: Chelsea FC’s Forgotten Man

It is still fresh in the minds of anyone with the slightest interest in the Premier League the hoops Chelsea FC went through six years ago to secure the services of the then-16-year old Gael Kakuta. The player himself had a hand in forcing his move from Ligue 1 side Lens and was in turn fingered by FIFA, receiving a heavy fine and four-month ban. Chelsea was also ordered to fork out a not-insignificant 100,000 euro sum for convincing Kakuta to do the unthinkable to cross over to where the grass was greener. But after a legal crossfire between Chelsea and the football governing body, bans were lifted and fines scrapped, paving the way for a long and blissful union between club and player.

Not so. The frustrated Frenchman can count the games he’s played with the Chelsea first team on his fingers. He would, on the other hand, have trouble achieving the same fete if asked to enumerate the jerseys he’s played in, including away kits, since his dream club started shipping him out on loan. Things were not always this way. I can hear Kakuta sighing to a scribbling journo at some corner of the Vitesse training grounds as he pieces together the details of the love affair gone sour. Indeed, the Chelsea-Kakuta union got off to a flying start, with the player impressing in his time as a youth team player. He was deservedly named the academy’s best player for 2007-2008 and had first-teamers like Michael Ballack gushing with praise.

But after playing his first EPL game towards the end of 2009, he would have to wait until September 2010 to play his next one. Reading the writing on the wall, the teenager began to agitate for a move away from the bridge. But instead of obtaining a transfer, he began a series of loan deals, first to CFC’s West London neighbours Fulham and then further afield to the Reebok Stadium. In January last year the Frenchman found himself crossing the Channel again for another season as a loanee, this time to another Ligue 1 outfit, Dijon. August saw him head to Eredivisie side Vitesse Arnhem, joining another Chelsea player Patrick van Aanholt.  But after helping the Arnhem-based outfit get a foot into Europe, there was no welcome home party waiting for him in London, even with the return of the manager who pursued him so relentlessly. It was recently announced that Kakuta is set for another season in the Dutch league.

Given the disenchantment the winger expressed in a March interview, it’s surprising that he agreed to another loan deal. Speaking to The Sun, the 22-year-old declared he had fallen out of love: “I don’t dream about Chelsea anymore- I used to, now I know better.” With the slew of recent signings and the very public pursuit of Wayne Rooney, you wouldn’t bet on Kakuta’s chances of action in a Blues shirt improving next season. So why not live up to your word, Gael, and take the plunge off the Bridge?