Lewis Baker has today signed for Championship side Stoke City on a permanent deal, bringing to an end his 17-year association with Chelsea.

The midfielder departs having progressed through our Academy ranks to make two senior appearances for the club, the most recent of which came last weekend as a substitute in our FA Cup victory against Chesterfield.

That was almost eight years to the day since his Blues debut, also in the FA Cup third round, in the 2013/14 campaign under Jose Mourinho. In the intervening period, Baker spent time on loan in the Netherlands, Germany and Turkey as well as the Championship, where he returns to join a Potters side currently pushing for the play-offs under Michael O’Neill.

Baker joined Chelsea at the age of nine from his hometown club Luton Town and developed a reputation for himself at Cobham as a technically gifted, two-footed central player.

He proved a standout individual in a talented team, culminating in a fine 2013/14 season in which he was named Young Player of the Year and won the club’s Goal of the Season, voted for by supporters, for a back-heel strike in an Under-21 match away against Arsenal at the Emirates.

A winner in the FA Youth Cup and Under-21 Premier League, he soon embarked on a first foray into senior football in England’s second tier with Sheffield Wednesday, spending a month of the 2014/15 campaign with the Owls having been part of the men's first team squad at Stamford Bridge prior to his departure. He ended that season with MK Dons in League One, playing in midfield alongside Dele Alli and helping the team to promotion.

Arguably Baker’s most successful loan was in the Eredivisie with Vitesse Arnhem, where he spent two seasons and caught the eye with midfield control and a penchant for a spectacular set-piece, which he could deliver with either foot. In his final game for the club in April 2017, he helped them secure the KNVB Cup for the first time in their history.

Further Championship spells with Middlesbrough, Leeds United and Reading followed, though he was unable to secure promotion to the Premier League and joined Bundesliga side Fortuna Dusseldorf in the summer of 2019, where he made seven league appearances.

Baker’s most recent loan spell was in Turkey with Trabzonspor as he linked up with former Blues player and coach Eddie Newton, who he had worked closely with in the loans programme at Chelsea. Although Newton departed during the campaign, Baker was a regular in the side with 36 appearances and two goals in 2020/21 before his premature return to Cobham amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Baker will now move to Staffordshire on a permanent deal, with the side currently pushing for a place in the Championship play-offs. We wish Lewis well for the future and thank him for his contributions at Chelsea.