With the Premier League’s top six boasting an embarrassment of riches in their squads, young players often find it difficult to force their way on to the team sheet. Subsequently, the loan move has become a right of passage for gifted youngsters looking to develop their game and improve their chances of regular football at the top level.
Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere spent the 2009/10 season on loan at Bolton Wanderers where his commanding performances in midfield earned him the respect of manager Owen Coyle whose side benefited from the youngsters determination to gain experience:
“Playing football games is good for anybody’s development and he’s playing in the best league in the world. Jack has got maturity well beyond his years and is so clever on the ball — he’s desperate to do well for us, and there’s no doubt this experience will serve him well.”
The Bolton manager was quick to add his belief that loan moves to cash-strapped Premier League teams is often a ‘win-win’ situation for both the players’ owner and the loan side:
“He will go back and play first-team football, but then it’s easy for me to say that. Arsene Wenger obviously believes he has scope, or else he wouldn’t have allowed him to come to a Premier League club. He did it with Nicklas Bendtner because he knows that when they come back to Arsenal, he’ll have a bona fide first-team player.”
Arsene Wenger has long been a champion of blooding young players in his Arsenal side – the aforementioned Nicklas Bendtner’s spell at Birmingham paid certainly paved the way for his breakthrough into the first team.
Manchester United’s Tom Cleverley has spent the last three seasons out on loan to Leicester City, Watford, and Wigan Athletic – and now, at 23 years of age, looks to have finally made his breakthrough into the first team at Old Trafford.
Chelsea’s Romelu Lukaku was heralded as Chelsea’s future replacement for Didier Drogba when he signed for the Blues as an 18-year-old last year.
But his bags of potential saw him make only 8 appearances last season, mostly from the bench, as competition for places saw both Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres block his path. This season the Belgian has gone out on loan to West Brom and has already scored two goals in four appearances for the Baggies this season.
Manchester United’s Fabio struggled with similar misfortunes with his path blocked by Patrice Evra – the French international and vice-captain is Sir Alex Ferguson’s first choice left-back leaving Fabio spending game after game on the bench. This season he has been loaned to QPR where he has already played 4 games.
There are those who disagree with the loan system, arguing it can lead to moral dilemmas, eg. if Adebayor last season had to take a penalty for Tottenham on the final day, which meant they would qualify for the Champions League, and Manchester City would not, would he take it with conviction?
A hypothetical scenario, and of course the loan system is not perfect, but when it acts as a career enhancer for so many young talents, it really is a win-win.
image: © eschipul