Reading Football Club are pleased to announce that 23-year-old Chelsea midfielder Lewis Baker has completed a loan switch to Madejski Stadium, cutting short a loan campaign with league leaders Leeds to begin a new chapter as a Royal.
Baker, a promising product of Chelsea’s Academy set-up, becomes José Gomes’ second loan signing this week and he will link up with his Reading teammates for first team training tomorrow morning ahead of Saturday’s home clash with Nottingham Forest.
Manager José Gomes said, “Lewis is a player of undoubted ability who, having grown up at Chelsea, has gone on to regularly represent his country at youth level and earn valuable first team experience on loan both in England and Holland. Importantly, he also knows what it takes to meet the demands of this division and I am looking forward to him joining the group in training for the first time tomorrow.”
Born in Luton, Baker came through the youth ranks at Stamford Bridge having joined Chelsea’s Academy system at the tender age of nine.
Almost exactly five years ago, the cultured midfielder made his professional debut for the Blues as substitute for Oscar in Chelsea’s 2-0 FA Cup win over Derby County at Pride Park.
He has since enjoyed first team experience on loan in League One, the Championship and the Dutch top flight before this season helping Leeds United rise to the top of the league table.
Following a brief loan spell at Sheffield Wednesday, Baker joined MK Dons on loan in February 2015 where he scored his first professional goal against Chesterfield. Flourishing alongside Dele Alli in the Dons midfield, Baker helped Karl Robinson’s side achieve automatic promotion with a runners-up place in League One.
That summer, Lewis left the English leagues to embark on a loan season at Vitesse Arnhem and after producing consistently high levels of performances, chipping in with five goals along the way, the Eredivisie outfit signed up the England Under-21 international for a second season at the GelreDome.
And an even more impressive goal haul helped Baker star once more as Vitesse emerged triumphant in the final of the KNVB Cup, winning 2-0 against AZ Alkmaar on 30th April 2017 to earn the three-time runners up the silverware for the first time in the club’s 125-year history.
He returned to UK shores and agreed a loan deal with Middlesbrough at the start of the 2017-18 campaign, scoring twice and featuring regularly under Garry Monk at the Riverside before embarking on another loan move at the start of this season when he became Marcelo Bielsa’s first summer signing at Elland Road.
On the international scene, Baker has been awarded England caps at Under-17, Under-19 and Under-20 level before scoring eight times in just 17 appearances alongside midfield compatriot John Swift as an England Under-21.
And in the same Three Lions side as Swift, Jordan Pickford, Demarai Gray, Ben Chilwell and Tammy Abraham, Baker went all the way to the semi-finals of the European Championships in 2017, scoring against Poland in the group stages and then finding the net from the spot in a penalty shootout against Germany.
Now Lewis will begin a new challenge at Madejski Stadium having successfully completed a medical with the club this morning. The former Chelsea Young Player of the Year will take squad number 16 with the Royals.
Chief Executive Nigel Howe added, “Lewis is a very talented young footballer who has been on the club’s radar for a number of years now. He is another player who we feel will fit seamlessly into the style of play the manager is implementing and offer added quality to our first team squad.”