Tomas Kalas: The Czech Chelsea Loanee On West Brom's Radar
In some ways, Tomas Kalas is your typical imported youth footballers’ story. Recognised as one of the better talents in their own country - Czech Republic - moving to a major European club at young age only to see yourself loaned out to another club. In other ways, it isn’t.
Tomas Kalas was signed by Chelsea in july 2010 for a fee of €6.4m. Only two months earlier, he made his debut for Sigma Olomouc at the age of only 16. He was immediately loaned back to the Czech side, but six months and four appearances later, Chelsea called him back. He spent the second half of the season with the Chelsea-reserves. So far the standard bit.
In the summer of 2011, he was loaned out to Vitesse. And he wasn’t the first Chelsea-player to be so too. Since Georgian Merab Jordania, a good friend of Roman Abramovich, took over Vitesse, gifted youngster after gifted youngster had been loaned to Vitesse by Chelsea. Most of them failed to make a lasting impression, just as so many loanees from big clubs do. But Czech defender Tomas Kalas has shown he is on his way of becoming the real deal for almost two seasons now. Last year, he developed a solid partnership with Vitesse-captain Guram Kaisha in central defence, while this campaign shows he’s also capable of filling in the right-back position. At only 19, he’s already has 60 senior league appearances under his belt and the season’s not even over.
Overall, it’s not surprising to see West Bromwich Albion showing interest. Stef de Bont, among other things Vitesse-watcher for Dutch football magazine Voetbal International, reckons Tomas Kalas is quite the player: “In my opinion, Tomas is a huge talent. A modern defender who’s making giant strides in his development, both at central defender and full-back. He has pace, is technically profound and has the ability to shut-out his direct opponent. From the three Chelsea-loanees currently in Arnhem (the other two are Patrick van Aanholt and Gael Kakuta) I feel he’s the only one with a reasonable chance to ever make it into the Chelsea first eleven.
“He’s a very down-to-earth, intelligent and calm character. Not one to brag or show off with his earnings and possessions. He’s a friendly boy and he has time for anyone when he’s in and around the Vitesse-ground. After this season though, he’s looking for a next step. He has his sights set on another loan-year at a higher level and after that, he’s looking to challenge the Chelsea-defenders for a spot in the team. He has mentioned the top 5 in the Bundesliga as a potential destination and, without really going into it, he mentioned West Bromwich Albion too. However, if a chance like that won’t come up, he said he’s happy to learn at Vitesse for another year.”
Tomas Kalas’ performances for Vitesse were not only noticed by West Bromwich Albion. In November 2012, the young versatile defender made his debut for the Czech national team. As a 12 year old, Tomas told his father it was his dream to make his debut appearance for the national team in his homeground, the stadium of Sigma Olomouc. And that is how it happened. But he didn’t turn in the fitting performance to match the fairytale story.
After half-time, he was told to warm-up for a substitute appearance. He had never done this before, since he had always been part of the starting eleven. When he finally came in, he was exhausted after two sprints: “ I had been warming up like a raging bull. When I was called to the bench, I was out of my breath already’.
His first game in a Czech shirt may not have turned out to be the complete dream experience, but he’s very likely to add more caps to his name soon. A starting spot at a Premier League-club would be a good next step in his career. Kalas, who turns 20 in May, still has a contract until 2017 and with his current progress in mind, a sale seems unlikely. With warm ties between West Bromwich Albion and Chelsea after the Lukaku-loan, Kalas and West Bromwich Albion would be a good match for the 2013/2014 season.
Judging from this years performances, Kalas is ready for a higher level. One year at West Bromwich Albion would do him good, but the boy is destined for eve bigger things.