The veteran Chelsea midfielder joins Stoke City after 17 years with the club

Chelsea’s transfer targets have been in the news lately as the January window reaches the halfway point. The Blues have struggled to stay consistent this season after a plethora of injuries and many players struggling with COVID-19. The title race is officially over in the Premier League, it’s been a few weeks, but there’s still plenty to play for this season. Chelsea can still win up to five trophies, so improving the squad during this transfer window is an absolute must.

Transfers in aren’t the only moves made. The Blues now have to facilitate a number of sales and loans in order to fund these expensive activities. Thomas Tuchel has a massive squad and while that has helped at times this season, there is still too much depth in certain areas. Players like Ross Barkley and Malang Sarr were linked with away loans this season, so they were on the radar before January. Another person the club were unable to offload last summer – to the surprise of many supporters – was Lewis Baker. However, he becomes the first casualty of the winter window as the midfielder joins Stoke City on a permanent deal.

Chelsea midfielder Lewis Baker joins Stoke City after 17 years in west London

Baker has spent the last 17 years at Chelsea in one capacity or another. He joined Cobham Academy from Luton Town in 2005. The Luton native graduated from youth training and jumped into the senior game nine years later. The former England U21 midfielder made his debut for the Blues first team in the 2014 FA Cup against Derby County. Manager Jose Mourinho offered him just one of his two appearances for the senior team at the start of January. Baker embarked on his first loan spell at Sheffield on Wednesday the same month a year later, spending around a month with the Owls before joining MK Dons until the end of the season.

The 26-year-old enjoyed some of the best football of his career at MK Dons. Baker was a key figure in helping the club achieve promotion as his play alongside Dele Alli in midfield saw him finish second in League One. That success in the English Third Division saw Baker bring his talents at Vitesse where he showed what he was really capable of over 60 matches. Unfortunately, injuries derailed his career from there as he played for a number of different clubs (Middlesborough, Leeds United, Reading, Fortuna Dusseldorf and Trabzonspor) over a four-year spell.

It was a surprise to everyone to see Baker even included in Tuchel’s pre-season plans ahead of the 2021/22 campaign. However, with the Euro 2020 competition taking place in the summer of 2021 meant that any hot bodies would do when players returned late from international duties. Baker replaced the centre-back and would continue to stay with the Blues for the season. The academy graduate returned to Chelsea’s development ranks for much of the year, playing eight times in Premier League 2 as a central and defensive midfielder. He then made one final appearance for the senior side ahead of his FA Cup departure against Chesterfield a few weeks ago.

Baker now joins a Stoke City side that are just seven points away from a playoff place in the English Second Division with two games less. This decision will be extremely beneficial for all parties. The player has the opportunity to establish himself in a senior team for the first time in his career. The Potters receive much-needed help in the middle of the park. The Blues are able to remove Baker from their accounts and reclaim a small transfer fee for the Englishman. A win-win. Everyone at The Pride of London would like to thank Baker for his years of professionalism and commitment to the club.

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