Back then in the 70s and 80s, loan signing was more often than not, made out of necessity. If an away team turned up for a match and is a man or two short, perhaps due to injuries or travel problems, they would borrow some players from the home team (opponent) in order to make up the numbers.
Loaning of players was common during football’s early days, although, it wasn’t accepted ab-initio, as time goes on and almost everything about life and mankind witnessed a revolution, it became acceptable by clubs and organizers of competitions. Since then, loan transfers have been in existence.
The signing of players from one club to the other is one of many beautiful things about club football; it is that part of the game that clearly defines the loyalty, professionalism, and also sportsmanship of the player and the club involved.
Seeing a player from a particular club featuring a loanee for another club and doing fantastically well against his parent club is always amusing to witness. Talk of this season, before the commencement of the leagues across Europe, many players were loaned from clubs to other clubs for different reasons.
The transfers of Philipe Countinho from Barcelona to Bayern and Sanchez’s move from Manchester United to Inter Milan are obviously the biggest of them, simply because of the expectations that were placed on the two players when they joined Barca and United respectively.
Unfortunately, both became the biggest of flops for their parent clubs as well as the clubs they’re having their loan spells.
That said, having considered the big financial and economical blow that most clubs have suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic, more and bizarre loan signing are expected to happen in the next transfer window because clubs with contract complications with some of its players would want to take some steps as regards not losing important players and having a stronger squad.
On that note, we look at a few loan signings in European football this season that were successful.
1. Mauro Icardi – Inter Milan to Paris Saint Germain
Icardi was Inter’s captain and talisman for years with the Nerazzurri, but due to a cold war that broke out between Inter and Icardi, he was ostracized from the team and this led to his loan move from San Siro to Paris when the Italian giant decided they want to rebuild the team which also coincided with Antonio Conte’s arrival at the club.
Icardi might be very controversial, but that doesn’t take away his quality as a reliable and potent striker. And as a result, he broke into the front-three at PSG and mostly starts ahead of Edinson Cavani.
Before Covid-19 ensured that the Ligue1 was canceled, Icardi had netted 20 goals; and also helped PSG to the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League.
This deal can be classified as a win-win case for every party involved as Inter looks to have moved on from the Argentine after getting Romelu Lukaku as Icardi’s replacement and fortunately for Inter, the Belgian forward has hit the ground running.
For Icardi, his efforts for the Les Parisians didn’t go unnoticed. He’s been signed permanently to replace the aging Edinson Cavani; a deal that has been tagged as spot-on by most pundits and tagged the best loan signing in recent years.
2. Chris Smalling – Manchester United to AS Roma
The Manchester United team is filled with so many irresponsible and clumsy players but how Smalling who at some point was United’s best defender was sacrificed for the arrival of an overrated Harry Maguire other defenders that are sore to the eyes remains inexplicable.
When Smalling joined Roma, most people thought it was a bad business but the English international has proven again that he was never the problem at United.
And for United, the club is still enduring shambolic and appalling defensive performances. As it was stated in our Arsenal’s Defensive Woes piece, to form a formidable defense most times depends on the pairing made by the manager at the heart of the defense.
Smalling has shown at Roma that a partnership with himself and Phil Jones would result in nothing but a colossal disaster; and Jones, on the other hand, is not even a regular in Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s team. Smalling is definitely one of the best loan signing this season
The Englishman has been a leader at the Giallorossi center back and also one of the very best in the Italian league this season. He has barely ever been dribbled past and in 21 league games, has been cautioned just once.
The responsible thing for Smalling’s parent club (Manchester United) to do now is to have him back in the team and not risk letting him join Roma permanently as this reeks of nothing for Smalling but a permanent move away from Old Trafford considering the consistent link with Roma.
3. Achraf Hakimi – From Real Madrid to Borussia Dortmund
Hakimi was forced to leave the Santiago Bernabeau on loan when he couldn’t contend for the right-back spot in the Real Madrid team, but even the Moroccan full-back wouldn’t have known what was waiting ahead for him.
Hakimi is currently on loan at Borussia Dortmund, and at the end of the season, he’s expected to head back to Madrid having completed his loan spell at the Bundesliga club. Given his stellar career at Dortmund, Hakimi has been linked with a number of moves, with parent club Real Madrid facing a decision when it comes to the fullback’s future.
Talking about loan singing, in his two-year loan spell, Hakimi has built up his reputation as one of the best right-backs in the world. He is blessed with an astonishing pace and with a spice of creativity to his play, all of these have increased massively in the 21-year-old at Dortmund.
Before Dortmund’s ouster from the Champions League, Hakimi was their highest scorer in the competition this season with four goals.
However, in recent days, Inter has jumped into the lead in the race to sign the Moroccan star, with the Italian side linked with a €40 million (£36m/$45m) deal to bring him to Italy.
4. Mario Pašalić – From Chelsea to Atalanta
Although he’s loan signing has been made permanent by the Italian club some days back, the Croatian playmaker is one of the revelations of this season.
Chelsea is a notorious club for loaning out players and they’ve done this for many years so much so that they’ve ignorantly released some brilliant players who should be their main players as of now.
Pašalić is one of those brilliant players that has been released by the club unknowingly. He joined Atalanta in 2018 from Chelsea and his career can be said to be on the rise since then.
His versatility has been one of the main strings to his bow, operating as a number eight, as well as a more attacking Number 10. Pašalić has been praised for his engine room displays, most notably by club captain Alejandro ‘Papu’ Gómez.
He’s featured for Gasperini Gian Piero’s side this season for 34 times in all competitions, netting just 5 times in all, but considering how Atalanta plays, a system where any player can get the goals; one should not be surprised as per his goal record.
5. Dean Henderson – From Manchester United to Sheffield United
Henderson is one of the best shot-stoppers in the Premier League this season, having kept 10 clean sheets in the league, a feat which puts him joint second in the race for the Golden Glove.
His loan is due to expire on 30 June, but with the pandemic bringing the league to a halt for 100 days, he’s been forced to remain at Bramall Lane for the rest of the 2019-20 campaign, which now ends on 26 July.
The Englishman with his scintillating performance is set to mount the goalpost for Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions at the Euros after creating the opportunity of playing in Europe next season under Chris Wilder and his teammates.
6. Martin Odegaard – From Real Madrid to Real Sociedad
The beautiful thing about loaning out a player is when the player returns to his parent club as an improved player. Martin Odegaard looks set to be the replacement of Luka Modriç for Zinedine Zidane has had three loan spells at Vitesse and Heerenveen in the Netherlands.
This young Norwegian is arguably LaLiga’s best best-attacking midfielder this season, he’s averaged a league-high 2.5 key passes per game and is one of the key men in a fascinating Sociedad team.
Super League: Respect & Dialogue Needed To Restore Normality
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, disapproving the concept of Super League
President Gianni Infantino has called for respect and dialogue as he expressed FIFA’s strong disapproval of the proposed European Superleague project, and has requested that the concerned parties consider their position in line with respecting the institutions that exist to protect the interest of national, European, and global football.
“FIFA is an organization which is built on values, the true values of sport,” said the FIFA President in his address to the 45th Ordinary UEFA Congress in Montreux, Switzerland.
“It is an organization that is built on our statutes, the statutes that define the institutional framework, with the pyramid, with FIFA, the confederations, the associations, the leagues, the clubs, the players. And at FIFA, we can only strongly disapprove of the creation of a super league which is a closed shop, which is a breakaway from the current institutions, from the leagues, from the associations, from UEFA, and from FIFA, which is outside of the system. There is no doubt whatsoever of FIFA’s disapproval for this.”
The FIFA President emphasized his full support to the European sports model, a successful model of openness and inclusivity, promotion and relegation, and a model that he promoted in his 16 years at UEFA:
“FIFA is here, and I am here today as FIFA President, to bring full support to European football, to UEFA, and the 55 member associations of UEFA and of FIFA, to the leagues, clubs, players, and to fans. To all the fans, all over Europe, and actually all over the world as well.”
“We can see that there is a lot to throw away for the short-term financial gain of some,” the FIFA President added. “People need to think very carefully, they need to reflect, and they need to assume responsibility. They need to think not only of their shareholders, but they need to think about all the people, of all the fans, of all those who have contributed to making European football what it is today. It goes back not only decades, it goes back more than one hundred years. People – with love, with passion, with commitment – have created all this. And we need to protect this. It is our task.”
“FIFA is a democratic organization, an organization that is open,” the FIFA President concluded. “Everyone can bring ideas and proposals, but always with respect for the institutions, leagues, associations, UEFA, and FIFA.
With respect for the history and with the respect for the passion of so many people around the world. I understand as well that on these particular days, emotions are very high, but we need to always keep the line. Football is hope, and it is our responsibility to make hope a reality. So we hope that everything will go back to normal and that everything will be settled, but always with acting responsibly, with respect, with solidarity, and always in the interest of national, European, and global football.”
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big Elsewhere
The English Premier League has welcomed some of the best players in the history of football. Players from different continents have made a huge impact on the league with impressive performances. There are others who failed to impress and can be termed as flops.
The League is quite unique from other European leagues. It is more competitive, fierce, physically challenging in nature. Needless to say, a player who isn’t mentally and physically geared up for this will stumble under the pressure.
Established stars can fall by the wayside with their former successes and triumphs becoming nothing more than a footnote in the EPL. Impressively, some of these players put in impressive performances when they moved to other leagues.
3 Premier League Flops Who Made It Big In Other Leagues
Following the impending sale of Gareth Bale to Real Madrid, Tottenham bought several players, one of the players they bought was Paulinho.
Paulinho was signed from Corinthians in Brazil where he helped them win the Copa Libertadores, Brasileirao, and the FIFA Club World Cup.
They defeated Chelsea in the latter to lift the trophy. Importantly, he had just won the FIFA Confederations Cup with Brazil and was voted as the third-best player at the tournament.
He joined Tottenham as the club’s record signing in 2013, so a lot was expected of him. However, his performance was not as impressive as the club had envisaged. He was later sold to Guangzhou Evergrande in China at a loss.
The Brazilian’s transfer to the Chinese league resulted in a change of fortunes, as helped the club claim the Chinese league and the AFC Champions League title in his first season.
In the second, he was voted into the Chinese League team of the year in recognition of his performance. Also, he won the league, FA Cup, and Super Cup.
Although critics downplayed his performance, citing the standard of the Chinese league compared to the English league, Paulinho impressed in Spain too following a €40 million move to Barcelona.
Paulinho helped the club claim the league and the Copa del Rey trophy. His performance in his only season with Barcelona impressed Ronaldinho who said: “He really stood out.”
- Iago Aspas
Most Premier League fan remembers Aspas only as a Liverpool flop with the number 9 jersey. Aspas moved from boyhood club Celta Vigo to Liverpool for a deal estimated to be around £7.7 m, with Liverpool hoping to have unearthed a gem. However, that gem turns dregs, failing to score in any of his 14 league appearances.
After just one season, Liverpool decided that they have seen enough so they sent him on a season-long loan to Sevilla with an obligation to buy. In his season-long loan at the club, he was the joint top scorer in the Copa del Rey alongside Neymar with 7 goals and won the UEFA Europa League.
At the end of his season-long loan at Sevilla, the club signed him from Liverpool but sold him to Celta Vigo in the same transfer window. In every of his first 5 seasons at Celta Vigo, he scored in double digits.
In fact, in three of the 5 seasons, he won the Zarra Trophy awarded to the Spanish player with the most league goals in a season. As of December 2020, Aspas had won La Liga player of the month four times.
- Diego Forlan
Perhaps, the most notable and interesting English Premier League flop who became a star in another League. He was not just impressive in another league; he was extraordinary with his National team Uruguay.
Sir Alex Ferguson signed Forlan in 2001 following the attacker’s impressive form at Independiente in Argentina. In his first season in England, Forlan made 18 appearances but failed to score a single goal. The two seasons after were not impressive either, hence his transfer to Villarreal.
Impressively, Forlan scored 25 league goals in his first season with Villarreal and won the league’s top scorers award (2004/05). Also, he was awarded the European Golden Shoe award alongside Thierry Henry the same year. He left the club two seasons later for Atletico with 59 goals scored in 128 matches.
In his second season with Atletico Madrid (2008/09), Forlan beat Samuel Eto’o to the Spanish league’s top scorer’s award. He scored 32 league goals in 33 league appearances that season which earned him the Pichichi trophy. Again, he won the European Golden Shoe but this time it was not shared with anyone.
The next season (2009/10), Forlan played a key role as Atletico won the Europa League. He scored six times in the tournament, including two in the 2-1 win over Fulham in the final. He was voted as the man of the match in the final.
With his national team, he was just as impressive; he scored the most goals at the 2010 FIFA World Cup alongside Thomas Muller, Wesley Sneijder, and David Villa.
Furthermore, he was voted into the FIFA World Cup dream team and won the Golden Ball and goal of the tournament title. By the time he retired, he was Uruguay’s highest goal scorer in history, a record which has since been broken by Luis Suarez.
Forlan eventually became so good that some Football fans think he is the caliber of player that could have won the Ballon d’Or.
There are several reasons why players struggle when they change clubs, especially to other countries. Culture, language, teammates, family are some factors that can affect their performances.
These 3 cases show that a player may fail to perform in one league but go on to become a star in another league.