Vitesse sit fourth in the Dutch league, level on points with third placed Twente and just a point behind second placed PSV Eindhoven - who occupy an all important Champions League place. Vitesse are seven points adrift of leaders Ajax, but are eyeing the second spot with intent as the season draws to an end.
Their ascent up the table has been impressive, but it can partly be put down to the added influence of Premier League leaders Chelsea, who have been working with the Dutch side as something of a feeder club, which has seen Vitesse branded 'Chelsea B' - with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich reportedly the man behind it.
The link between the two sides is reminiscent of the one that we saw in England last year, where Watford essentially loaned a full time from Udinese, who are owned by Hornets owner Giampaolo Pozzo. After Watford made it to the playoff final, Championship sides complained, forcing the FA to put in a rule limiting the number of loans from one club.
There is no such rule in Holland, but Vitesse technical director Mohammed Allach has vowed to keep the club's identity and not simply become a feeder club.
"That’s too much," said Allach. "Then, you can consider yourself a second team. That’s not us. You have to keep your own identity. That’s what’s so beautiful in this relationship, we respect each other’s identity."
Chief executive Joost de Wit concurred, suggesting that as they have a commitment to their own players, but as long as the players succeed, it doesn't matter where they came from. "From 32 players, we currently have five from Chelsea and eight from our Academy which I think means we keep our identity quite well," said De Wit. "We are committed to our own players but Vitesse fans don’t care where a player comes from. If you wear yellow-and-black and score like Lucas Piazon did in our derby, you are very popular."
Manager Peter Bosz deserves a large amount of praise too, and he singled out three of his Chelsea loanees with regards to their futures at Stamford Bridge.
- On Lucas Piazon:
"When Lucas came, nobody knew him," said Bosz. "Now coaches say: 'Piazon is important and if we stop him we kill a big part of Vitesse". They mark him close, sometimes a bit mean, the spaces are reduced and he is tired because it is his first season playing game after game."
"Also, the media love him because he is technical and skilful. There is a lot of attention and that is new for him. It’s interesting how he handles that. The new challenge for Lucas is to perform the same. These last steps are the most difficult."
- On Patrick van Aanholt:
"He’s not ready. You cannot make the mistakes for Chelsea that he is making with us. It is not possible. He is progressing and he is not an old player, he is 23. He is fast and has fantastic technique. Going forward he is one of the best but in defence he has to learn a lot if he wants to play for Chelsea. He must be reliable.'
- On Bertrand Traore:
"He is special. I knew from the moment I first saw him. I know at Chelsea they already have the Special One but this is also a special one. He’s gifted. He’s mature. He feels what is necessary. We don’t have to teach him these things."
Ghanaian winger Christian Atsu is also on loan at Vitesse, but despite a blistering start to life in Holland, the former Porto man has faded. With Chelsea's young stars developing well at Vitesse, should they continue to send them out on loan or is it, as many Championship managers suggested, immoral?