In the next edition of our feature where we speak to Chelsea players out on loan, we hear from Ian Maatsen, the teenage defender who is currently playing in League One with Charlton and scored his first senior goal at the weekend.
Maatsen joined Chelsea from PSV Eindhoven in his native Netherlands during the 2018 summer window. After mainly featuring for our development squad over the last few years, he headed to Charlton in the summer to experience his first taste of senior men’s football.
The Addicks ended last season 22nd in the Championship and were relegated to League One. Since then, they have been fighting for a play-off place in the third tier and currently sit seventh in the standings.
The 19-year-old has made 30 appearances for Charlton this term and is adapting to being used in unfamiliar positions. Playing in an attacking role on the right, he scored his first goal for his loan club during Saturday’s 1-0 win over Doncaster Rovers and we recently caught up with the Dutchman to hear how he is finding life on loan...
Ian, heading towards the end of the season, how has the whole loan experience been for you so far?
'At the beginning the deal happened very quickly, and I had to make a decision within 24 hours with Chelsea, my parents and agents. My first few months were very different because I used to drive into Cobham with my team-mates and within a day I was seeing different faces, but it went well. The boys took care of me and were very welcoming.
'Outside of football I had to look for an apartment to stay in and live on my own for the first time. It was a bit new for me. I was so used to living in digs with Pierre [Ekwah-Elimby]. Games and training were very different also but playing with guys who are older and have more experience in the game than me has been good.
'Once I got my first minutes, I was settled. I just wanted to work hard and show my best self for the team. I started to play more and more and become a part of the team and it’s been going really well - I didn’t expect it.'
What have been some of the biggest and main differences between being at Chelsea and Charlton?
'Academy football and League One football are completely different. Although winning at Chelsea is a big part of our club, the three points in League One mean so much more to the guys here at Charlton.
'Another difference would be the stadiums. While I have been here at Charlton, we have played at some good places like Hull, Sunderland and Portsmouth. When the fans came back for a short while it was really good to have them - they give you some extra power and more confidence on the pitch. There were times when they were really behind us and it just makes you think, this is why I want to play men’s football.'
How are you looking after yourself away from the pitch to deal with the physical and mental load of games in League One?
'The games are coming thick and fast so you need to be ready. Recovery sessions are very important here and they are taken seriously, so you have to do them.
'The Christmas period was hard because there were so many games, and usually I spend that time with my family. But last year I had to get my head down to work. When you have a bad game, you have to bounce back and that’s the good thing about League One because there’s always another game around the corner.
'In the beginning, living alone doing these things was hard but I have got used to it. I get help with recipes on FaceTime from my parents, which helps me keep professional.'
How has it been going out on your first loan spell during a pandemic?
'It’s the first time since I have been in England that I haven’t seen my parents for a long time. I have just taken it as it is because I can’t change the situation we are in with the pandemic.'
'I have to be strong, I know my parents and Chelsea are supporting me all the way – I feel as though they are around me but not physically – I just get on with it I think it will make me stronger mentally.'
— Ian Maatsen
What has been the biggest part of your game that has been challenged while on loan?
'For me it would be playing 90 minutes twice a week while giving everything you’ve got to keep the shirt and to keep consistent. Especially as a young 18-year-old, I wanted to show that young people can survive in this league and deserve to be here.'
How have you dealt with the positional changes at Charlton?
'I’m always open to different positions because I know if I play somewhere else I will try to do my best for the team. It really surprised me though because at Chelsea I played mostly at left-back and sometimes in midfield.
'But here at Charlton I remember in a game against Ipswich, we were 2-0 up and for the last 10 minutes the coach said to me that I am playing as the striker - I couldn't believe it! I enjoy learning new roles on the pitch and I'm happy to play where the team need me.'
Charlton are currently one place and one point outside the play-off positions in League One. Their next game is away at Sunderland on Saturday.