When you are a callow teenager who has just been signed by one of the most powerful clubs in the game today, there are quite a few things you have to take on board and be aware of, among them the possibility of being farmed out to another club to gain experience.
That is the situation Lucas Piazon finds himself in, having been loaned out by his employers Chelsea to Vitesse for the 2103/14 season, during which he hopes to show he has what it takes to be a permanent fixture in the Blues’ first team.
Discussing the need to be patient as he tries to make his way in the game, the 19-year-old Brazilian told FIFA.com: “It’s tough, isn’t it? You always want to be playing. I was signed two years ago and obviously I want to play [at Chelsea], but I know that I’ve got to find my own way.”
Piazon's progress in the Netherlands is being closely monitored by the London club, as he explained: “Things are moving along and I need to keep on developing. The coaches keep in touch. They chat to my parents and me and they’re monitoring the whole process.”
Piazon joined Vitesse at the suggestion of his club, which has close ties with the Dutch outfit. As someone who likes to play short, snappy passes, bring wide men into the game and switch play from one side of the pitch to the other, he seems to have found the ideal stage in the Eredivisie.
“Yes, that’s right,” he confirmed. “The Dutch style of play suits my game. It’s a bit like Spanish football, which is good for us Brazilian players.”
Born in Sao Paulo, Piazon has already starred on the global stage, helping Brazil reach the semi-finals of the FIFA U-17 World Cup Mexico 2011, a few months before which he signed the deal that would take him from Sao Paulo’s youth set-up to Stamford Bridge.
Piazon's loan spell with Vitesse is not the first he has had since making the move to London. In January this year he was farmed out to Malaga, where he came under the tutelage of Chilean coach Manuel Pellegrini and took part in the club’s stirring UEFA Champions League run, which ended with an agonising quarter-final defeat to eventual runners-up Borussia Dortmund.
“I loved it," he said. "I had some fantastic experiences like playing in the Champions League and the Spanish championship. When I was there, Malaga asked to renew the loan contract for another year but Chelsea said no.”
Kick and rush in England
While that refusal on the part of the Londoners might have seemed like a backward step for Piazon at the time, it also showed the interest they were taking in their young star’s career. And though he has since been loaned out again after taking part in the Blues' pre-season preparations, such practice is commonplace at clubs like Chelsea, which invest a lot of money in promising young players from around the world.
“When we came back from the pre-season tour (of Asia and the USA) they said a lot of the young players wouldn’t be staying, that they had a lot of good players they could use,” he said. “They released us so we could find a team, and the coaches said Vitesse would be a good opportunity for me, that it was a good league for Brazilians, one that suited my style and where I could work on my game.”
Chelsea have already shown that Piazon will not be forgotten about. Having kept close tabs on Czech defender Tomas Kalas during his loan spell at Vitesse, the west London club have since recalled him. Young Dutch midfielder Marco van Ginkel also made a permanent move to Stamford Bridge from Vitesse this summer, meaning the club are closely watching developments at the GelreDome. The duo are among the youngest members of Jose Mourinho’s first-team squad, both having turned 20, the same age that Piazon will be when he returns to Stamford Bridge in 2014.
Vitesse’s young squad features only two players above the age of 26 and a sizeable contingent of South Americans, with Piazon being joined by Chilean midfielder and fellow Chelsea loanee Cristian Cuevas, Ecuadorian winger Renato Ibarra and a compatriot in forward Jonathan Reis, who has spent virtually his entire career with PSV.
Nor are Piazon and Cuevas the only Chelsea exiles in the Vitesse squad. English defender Sam Hutchinson, French forward Gael Kakuta and Dutch left-back Patrick van Aanholt are all there too, helping the Brazilian get acclimatised in what is a high-class finishing school.
“I’m enjoying myself and I’ve settled in well,” said Piazon, who has started Vitesse’s last three games (two draws and a win), the first he has played since arriving in the Netherlands in early August. “I get on well with the South Americans and some of the players I know from Chelsea.”
“It’s a good league. Every team tries to play football, build up play and pass the ball. There’s no kick and rush. They don’t hit the ball long all the time like they do in England.”
Sounds like Lucas is in the right place to keep on developing his game.