Chelsea midfielder Lewis Baker is poised to leave Stamford Bridge when the transfer window re-opens in January, with a loan move to a Championship club looking a distinct possibility.
This is according to the Express, who understand that both Derby County and Leeds United are keen to sign the 19-year-old England Under-20 international in the New Year.
Mourinho keen for Baker to play
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho will allow Baker to gain some valuable first-team experience in the second half of this season, with a view to bringing him back next summer and using him at Stamford Bridge from the start of the 2015/16 campaign.
Baker, who joined Chelsea from Luton Town in 2005 at the tender age of nine, has yet to make a league appearance for the Blues.
However, he made his debut for the west London outfit back in January, during Chelsea’s 2-0 victory over Derby County in the FA Cup fourth round.
Baker came on in the closing stages of the match for Brazil international Oscar, indicating just how highly Mourinho rates the teenager.
Mourinho a huge fan of Baker
Months later, the Chelsea boss admitted that if Baker - the club’s Young Player of the Year - failed to play for England in the future then he would be the man to blame.
“My conscience tells me that if, for example, Baker, [Izzy] Brown, and [Dominic] Solanke are not national team players in a few years, I should blame myself,” Mourinho told reporters. “They are part of a process the club started without me. In this moment, we have players who will be Chelsea players. And when they become Chelsea players, they will become England players, almost for sure.”
Baker made England U20 captain
A further testament to Baker’s talent is the fact England Under-20 coach Aidy Boothroyd has made him captain of the international side last month.
It’s clear that Baker is destined for big things in the game, but Mourinho is acutely aware of the need for the youngster to start playing week-in, week-out.
Knowing that Chelsea already have Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic and John Obi Mikel in his ranks for this season, Mourinho appears to have decided that it’s in both the best interests of Baker and Chelsea for the midfielder to continue his development with a Championship club.
Should he make a big impact in English football’s second tier, Mourinho may decide that Baker is ready to compete with the likes of Fabregas and Matic for a first-team place at Stamford Bridge next season.