Chelsea and England under-21 international Dominic Solanke is enjoying his first loan spell away from Stamford Bridge and is looking forward to building on his success during the second half of the campaign. The 18-year-old is one of three Blues players on loan with Vitesse Arnhem, along with Isaiah Brown and Lewis Baker, and has netted five goals in all competitions this term.
Solanke has made just one appearance for Chelsea since joining them in 2004 but played a crucial role in their youth teams, helping his side win both the FA Youth Cup and Uefa Youth League in the 2014-15 season. The England youth international scored in both finals, and as their youngster ever player to feature in European competition there are high hopes surrounding his career.
The Basingstoke-born striker was sent out on loan for the whole of the season to gain first-team experience away from the Chelsea youth team. He has wasted little time in impressing, with Vitesse fourth in the Dutch top flight. A goal in the recent win over FC Twente underlined his progress and the player says he has adapted well to life in the first team.
"It's been quite easy adapting to the culture and the language out here," he told the official Chelsea website. "The fact they all speak English helps a lot. We can communicate with each other easily. Having the likes of Izzy and Lewis here is one of the main reasons I settled in quite quickly. It's a good thing on my first loan having a couple of the boys I know from the youth teams at Chelsea around me to help me get used to that.
"I am in contact a lot with Eddie [Newton] and Paulo [Ferreira] back at Cobham too. They like to communicate a lot, watching my games and giving me advice. All the loan players support each other and it's good to keep talking with them and see how everyone is getting on."
The spell at Vitesse has been Solanke's first exposure to first team football, crucial experience when contrasted Patrick Bamford's harrowing spell at Crystal Palace, where the forward failed to make an impact before cutting short his spell away from Chelsea. Solanke has appreciated the regular game time and the style implemented by clubs in the Netherlands.
"It's been really good. It's nice to be getting regular game time," added Solanke, who is expected to return to Stamford Bridge at the end of the campaign. "It's a very good league for me to develop in right now. A lot of teams like to get the ball down and play football. It's quite similar to the Premier League in that respect, not many teams play long ball. It's a good place to develop both technically and physically. That's important. I'm enjoying the challenge.
"With it being a proper senior league everything is about winning, that is the main thing. You have got to do everything to win and you have to play as a team to win. It's also much more physical playing against men every week and that's something I have had to quickly adapt to."