In the next edition of our feature where we speak to Chelsea players out on loan, we catch up with Ian Maatsen, the 19-year-old currently playing for Coventry City in the Championship.
After joining the Academy in July 2018, Maatsen is currently out on his second loan in English football after being scouted by our recruitment team in his homeland, the Netherlands, playing for PSV Eindhoven.
Last term, Maatsen was at Charlton Athletic in League One, and while with The Addicks the Dutchman soon become a fan favourite, making 35 outings for the club in all competitions.
The left-back is doing the same at a level above this season. He has been a mainstay in Mark Robins’ Coventry City side, featuring in 21 of the club’s 23 league games. The Sky Blues sit pretty in 10th position and are just five points off a play-off spot with two games in hand.
Maatsen has been operating at left wing-back for the large part, utilising his diverse skillset to help the team both defensively and offensively. As the next edition of Steps Up highlights, it has been a successful time for Ian so far, who netted his first goal in a win over Fulham, and has had the chance to impress visiting family and friends.
Firstly Ian, as we reach the halfway point of the season, how have you found your second experience of being on loan?
‘It is a good loan, we have started the season well. We have had some ups and downs, but it is the process of developing in my career and this is what I need, a good loan. So far, it is going well.
‘Charlton was my first loan so this was more to experience how England play men’s football and so that a younger player like me can see the difference in the Championship. There are more games in the Championship, coming quick and fast, and I think against better teams and players it is really good for my development. I am happy to play here.
‘It is tough because normally when you played at Under-23s you don’t play as many games as I do now. You have to recover well, eat good. It is quite tough, but I feel really fit. All the boys welcomed me very well when I arrived. Every coach, the assistants and the gaffer. The fans are pleased with me.’
How did it feel scoring your first goal for Coventry, in a brilliant win over promotion-hopefuls Fulham?
‘We played a good game against Fulham, the atmosphere was nice in the stadium. I switched the ball to Fankaty Dabo and then he crossed the ball. I saw the ball at the edge of the box and the only thing in my mind was to shoot. It was such a special feeling.’
How have you found adapting to Coventry’s system and style of play?
‘It’s good for me, it helps my qualities on the left side. I feel free in this formation, and I take a lot from it. Defending wise, I have to stay strong and just do my job. The gaffer wants me to play with freedom in the final third, and I am really enjoying that.’
There is seemingly a strong connection between Chelsea and Coventry. Did you speak to anyone in particular when you signed for the Sky Blues?
‘I spoke with Dujon Sterling when he was there. They played in League One then but as soon as I went to Coventry, and I saw all the guys, we spoke. They are happy I am here with them.
What are your personal goals for this season and beyond?
‘Step by step developing my football qualities and then to play as many games as possible on a good level. It is good for me. From there, maybe step up to higher levels and even develop within myself.
‘I want to play as many games as possible here at Coventry and finish well in the table. I am looking forward to next season and then we will go from there. We’ll see whatever options come my way.'
‘In my position you have to think as a young player you must play many games and train well. It is not really necessary to look at other options. You have to make hours to learn and develop.'
— Ian Maatsen
What do you get up to in your spare time, and do your family often visit?
‘My team-mates are so good, and I get on with every single one of them. I live near the training ground and also my family always come and visit me from Holland. When I have weekends off, I go back to London to see my friends and see old team-mates from Chelsea.
‘My Dad came a few months ago to watch one of my games in the stadium with fans. Last season he could not do this because of Covid-19. Now my family can see me in real life, in a full stadium, and that only makes them proud.'
Did you have any conversations with Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel in the summer?
‘He just said you are young; you must go and play as many minutes as you can and when the time is there you will be ready for the Premier League or the next step in your career.
‘I follow Chelsea all the time. Every single player is so good. They are in a good position, they play well, and I can learn from them outside of football as well.’
Looking back to just over two years ago, what was it like to make your Blues debut at Stamford Bridge?
‘A young guy coming from the Netherlands at 17, playing for Chelsea, was an amazing feeling for me, my family and my friends. When I came on the pitch, all the fans were behind me and the support they gave me was perfect. It was such a nice feeling. Just a moment to remember.’