The Brazilian midfielder has only started one game for the Tricky Trees since joining them on a season-long loan last summer, and it was in the League Cup.
The Blues believe in Santos’ talents. They shelled out £19 million to secure his services from Vasco da Gama in January, but he was not ready for their first team, so they sent him out to develop.
The Forest loan looked like an excellent idea for the box-to-box midfielder to get Premier League experience until Forest signed Ibrahim Sangare and Nicolas Dominguez.
With Santos’ path blocked at Forest, what is next for the highly-touted 19-year-old?
A path to Chelsea’s first team is incredibly narrow right now, with Moises Caicedo, Romeo Lavia and Lesley Ugochukwu firmly ahead of him in the pecking order.
Another loan is a possibility, but new FIFA regulations stipulate that clubs can only have seven players out overseas on loan.
Chelsea have reached that number, and Santos’s loan move options are limited to English football.
They will need to find a sweet landing spot for Santos in the Premier League and should be looking at their London neighbours in need of midfield reinforcement.
Crystal Palace midfielder Cheick Doucoure is reportedly out for the season after suffering an Achilles injury against Luton Town.
The Eagles could enter the market for a replacement in January, and Santos could provide temporary cover until the end of the season.
Fulham may also need a midfielder in January if Bayern Munich return for Joao Palhinha’s services.
Die Rekordmeister couldn’t close a deal for the Portuguese international during the summer window and plan to revisit the transfer even though Palhinha signed a new contract with the Cottagers.
A drop into the Championship is also not a bad idea for Santos to sharpen his edges.
Chelsea successfully sent Reece James and Mason Mount to the second tier before reintegrating them into the first team squad. They could employ the same strategy again.
Wherever Santos goes, game time must be paramount for the one-cap Brazil international midfielder as he faces a crucial juncture in his development.
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