A Progress Report on Chelsea's Vitesse Arnhem Loanee Wallace

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IOctober 28, 2014

ARNHEM, NETHERLANDS - JULY 30:  Mohamed Salah of Chelsea and Wallace Oliveira dos Santos of Vitesse battle for the ball during the pre season friendly match between Vitesse Arnhem and Chelsea at the Gelredome Stadium on July 30, 2014 in Arnhem, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

Having made just four appearances during an ill-advised loan move to Internazionale last year, Chelsea-owned youngster Wallace is in the process of re-establishing himself at senior level at Eredivisie side Vitesse Arnhem.

Vitesse have established ties with the West London side when it comes to developing young players on loan, with Wallace's former Brazil Under-17 teammate Lucas Piazon among those to have benefitted from the relationship. It is now the right-back's turn to make the most of the opportunities afforded to him.

Sadly, it appears he may now be sidelined for a few weeks through injury:

It cannot be said that Wallace has not been afforded first-team opportunities in his career, having already made over 30 appearances for Fluminense before even arriving at Chelsea at the age of 18 in 2013. However, for full-backs in particular, there is a big adaptation step required when it comes to the differing expectations of the position in South American and European football.

It is now in the Eredivisie that Wallace must show that he has learned from his 18 months in Europe thus far. After featuring in eight of his side's 10 games thus far, there are promising signs that he is making steps towards fulfilling his potential. However, some concerns remain on the defensive side of his game.

Attacking has never been an issue for the young full-back, as is the case for many of his countrymen who end up in the position. He is forward-thinking, solidly built although not tall and lightening fast across the ground, all of which make him a dangerous proposition when overlapping down the flanks.

His recent goal in a 6-2 success over Eredivisie strugglers Dordrecht was a great example of what he can offer in that respect, steaming beyond winger and fellow Chelsea-owned youngster Bertrand Traore before hammering a low shot past the goalkeeper. However, these are areas of Wallace's game that have been strong from an early age.

Key to the Brazilian ever coming good on his potential in England will be learning the defensive arts of full-back play, which are severely tested in European football where wide-forwards and wingers are more common than in the often narrow tactical setups favoured in Brazil. Physically he has few issues, but his positioning and decision-making can be a concern.

Any full-back can be beaten by their opponent, regardless of quality, but the key is to make that task as difficult as possible. At times, Wallace is guilty of committing to tackles too easily and making his opponents decision-making process a simple one.

Just a few weeks ago, in a comfortable 6-1 victory over ADO Den Haag, the Brazilian was at fault for the only goal his side conceded when he allowed a cross to reach Roland Alberg at the back post. His shot was saved but the rebound turned in. The Brazilian was on his heels as the ball came in, making a desperate late attempt to cut out the ball. He should have reacted much quicker to what was developing.

It is a concern that, per WhoScored.com statistics, he has fouled opponents twice as often as he has successfully completed a tackle this season. Likewise, no Vitesse player is dribbled past by opponents as often as the Fluminense product who is beaten on an average of 1.4 occasions per game.

Wallace can be beaten too easily
Wallace can be beaten too easilyMoises Castillo/Associated Press

Unsurprisingly, given those numbers, Wallace is also making a habit of picking up yellow cards with four in his eight games thus far. Chelsea will need to see such statistics drastically improving before they will consider counting on him returning to Stamford Bridge.

The good news is that he is at least playing regularly in a league that will afford him some leeway to make mistakes and can learn in relatively tranquil surroundings. Piazon improved greatly as a player in Arnhem and it is up to Wallace to follow a similar trajectory if he is also to move on to bigger things.

Attacking full-backs are crucial in many modern tactical setups and Chelsea will thus give their man time before making any decisions regarding his long-term future. His ability on the ball and athleticism will guarantee him that much. It is important, though, that he shows signs of development.

Wallace and his advisers made the wrong decision last year in rejecting Vitesse in favour of arranging a move to Inter Milan and the Brazilian lost a year as a result. Nobody is expecting overnight miracles, but Vitesse will expect more from their loanee as the season goes on.

He is capable of doing so, but must now focus on developing his reading of the game. With the right attitude, it could prove a breakthrough season for the 20-year-old which will stand him in good stead for the remainder of his career.


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