Tomás Kalas 20 Chelsea Defender Czech Republic
2013 has been…
Unlucky. Another one of Chelsea’s young and upcoming loaned to Vitesse for some first-team experience, he’s enjoyed two seasons of action and proved himself to be a capable defender, comfortable on the ball and now ready to step up. In the summer he got game time in the club’s Asia tour, earned himself a place in their Premier League squad listing and even had his new manager’s praise ringing in his ears as he was tipped as now “ready” to play for Chelsea. So all good, things ticking along nicely and more time on the pitch predicted in the next leg of pre-season preparation in America.
Then came the injury that would curtail his next three month’s football and temporarily halt his progress to the first team. He suffered a fracture to his fibula in training and while initial reports suggested it was small and would only cause him to miss a month’s worth of action, at the time of writing he has only just made his way back into the Chelsea squad and played the last seconds of the club’s League Cup game against Arsenal at the end of October. He has now completed ninety minutes for the club’s U21s a couple of times and is back in full training with the first team again. A frustrating time to pick up an injury of this sort, he now needs to force his way back into Jose’s first team thinking.
He needs to find a way past those ahead and get some minutes on Premier League pitches. Chelsea’s defensive situation is going to be fluid over the next season or so; time is catching up with John Terry no matter how much of a revival Jose has inspired, Gary Cahill will definitely be there or thereabouts, it seems David Luiz is a question yet to be answered conclusively in his manager’s mind, and Branislav Ivanovic is preferred out wide. Taking things as they sit on paper, this makes Kalas next in line after this quartet has had a go and Chelsea would do well to give him time there.
At Vitesse he has proved himself to be a tough and uncompromising defender, at home doing the dirty work as well as being comfortable on the ball. He does look to have a good future ahead but as several other young promising defenders have found (Michael Mancienne and Jeffrey Bruma immediately spring to mind) this is a difficult first eleven to break into for a variety of reasons. Jose has come home and is promising stability giving Kalas a better platform than others have had, but this is a club that operates at the highest levels of the European game and don’t have a great track record of blooding youngsters accordingly.
So currently his future could go either way. He will have a long career as a central defender and has already made his international debut for the full Czech Republic side as far back as 2012. The question is whether that career will prove to be at Chelsea for the longer-term? We’re honestly not sure. He needs first team football before the end of the season as he really is too good to just accept watching from the bench every week. We hope he gets some time on the pitch but if not, it may be that another season-long loan will be brokered over the summer. He’s too good for Chelsea to let go but not quite good enough to tie down a place in and around the match day squad every week, his development over the next year or so will hold the key to his long term Chelsea success or failure.
“Desperately unlucky to have picked up that injury as many were tipping him to get some game time quite early on in the season, looked really good at Vitesse but needs to make the step up and be allowed time to learn, I personally can’t see him at Chelsea for too much longer one way or another and they may live to regret it as I’m sure he’ll blossom into a really good defender at the right club” – David Hartrick, IBWM
"It's hard to believe Kalas is only 20. Has pace, composure and a good tackler. A true modern defender, but needs playing time to fulfill his potential." - Michiel Jongsma, Benefoot
"Tomas Kalas was part of twelve clean sheets for Vitesse in the Eredivisie last season. Only four players in the Dutch flight managed more." - Opta
C An unfortunate injury at an unfortunate time put a speed bump in the road. Very capable but for his long term career, time will tell if he’s at the right club