After three years out on loan and none of those spells particularly impressive, few could have seen Victor Moses having any kind of future with Chelsea this season, let alone him being one of their best players *and* in a position he’d never played in before.
The message sent by Antonio Conte here is pretty clear: Chelsea are no longer necessarily a club who will farm out players on loan simply to get them into the shop window – young players and overlooked stars now have a chance to impress the Italian, and get in past the fabled Chelsea clique of ageing but established names.
As ever, though, Chelsea do have a large number of players away from Stamford Bridge in temporary moves this season, many of which were agreed prior to Conte’s arrival.
After Moses’ tremendous rise in the Premier League this season, who else could be looking at this new-look Chelsea side and thinking they might have a chance there next season? Here’s our pick of five…
Rated as one of Europe’s most promising young defenders, Andreas Christensen is into the second season of a two-year loan spell at Borussia Monchengladbach.
The Denmark international has really impressed in the Bundesliga, attracting rumours of interest from the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona.
It has been suggested that Conte wants the 20-year-old back in his first-team next season, though the player himself has suggested he’s happy with life in Germany.
Chelsea could do with him back, but will they be able to convince him they’ve changed their ways and will give him the playing time he wants?
Another promising young defender who could be needed at Chelsea next season, Nathan Ake has had some good games for Bournemouth this term.
The 21-year-old hasn’t always been a regular for the Cherries, but stepped up to score a dramatic winner in the side’s 4-3 win over Liverpool this weekend.
With Chelsea now using three at the back under Conte, there certainly looks like there could be room for players like Christensen and Ake to take advantage of the fact that John Terry and Gary Cahill may no longer be regulars next season.
An immensely gifted young midfielder, Lewis Baker is into a second season on loan at Vitesse, and continues to shine in the Eredivisie.
The 21-year-old has an eye for the odd spectacular goal, and could fancy his chances of at least being a squad player for Conte, who is sure to offload Cesc Fabregas either in January or in the summer.
Baker might not have stood a chance in previous Chelsea sides, but there could be an opening there next season and he looks like one who could take advantage.
It’s probably still a bit early for him, but Tammy Abraham’s form for Bristol City this season will be hard for Conte and everyone else at Chelsea to ignore.
The 19-year-old striker looks like he could the Blues’ very own Marcus Rashford with a fast start in the Championship. After 22 games so far this season, the teenager already has 12 goals.
Diego Costa is firmly established as Chelsea’s first choice up front right now, but with the likely event of Champions League football returning to the Bridge next year, Conte will need more options to rotate his front line.
Baba Rahman hasn’t exactly set the world alight at Schalke, but then neither did Moses at Liverpool, Stoke City or West Ham.
What could give the Ghana international more of a chance at Chelsea now, however, is their use of wing-backs, which looks like a system that could get the best out of him.
A pacey, energetic and attack-minded full-back, Rahman would have some work to do to get Marcos Alonso out of the Chelsea side, but he’s still a young player with plenty of potential, and may now find a manager who’ll take a closer look at him than Jose Mourinho ever did.