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Chelsea Could Recall African Starlet (But They Won’t)

Never trust a sentence that begins “according to The Sun”, even if it warns you about it beforehand, but… According to The Sun, Chelsea are considering recalling 21 year old South African starlet Jeffrey Ntuka from his loan spell with Belgian charity case feeder club KVC Westerlo.

The young midfielder’s been impressing in Belgium’s top division, where he’s been on loan since 2004. He’s already playing for the South African national team too, and word is that Frank “eye on the future” Arnesen will be at Brentford’s Griffin Park tonight to see Ntuka play for the Bafana Bafana against Egypt (which actually sounds like a good game if anyone’s in the area).

But here’s why Ntuka won’t, as The Sun suggest, be returning to Chelsea in January:

Clubs like Chelsea loan players like Ntuka out to Belgian teams because of the countries friendly citizenship laws. Non-EU players can get Belgian, and therefore EU citizenship by spending just three years in Enzo Scifo-land, whereas the minimum residency in most other countries is five years, which is why many other Premiership clubs like Manchester United have partnerships with small Belgian sides. So it’s no coincidence that Ntuka’s loan spell began in the summer of 2004 and ends in summer 2007, so returning to Stamford Bridge in January would ruin Ntuka’s chances at gaining EU citizenship.

So as far as we can tell Arnesen probably will be going to Griffin Park to check up on Ntuka, but with an eye on next summer, not this January. So Shaun Wright-Phillips can relax, he won’t be falling any further down the Stamford Bridge pecking order.