Once again the traditional summer transfer deadline has passed, with deals being done, record transfer fees being paid between clubs and everyone’s happy, well almost. It is not only the record breaking amounts of money that are being paid for players every year but also the loan deals between clubs that are starting to cause concern amongst the game’s governing bodies.
Europe’s richest clubs are using the loan system to get around the financial fair-play rules that they must adhere to. Most notably, Paris Saint-Germain signing Monaco’s teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe on a season long loan, when they will no doubt take up the option to buy him for an estimated £162 million. This is on top of the record fee they have just paid Barcelona to bring Neymar to the French capital for £198 million. Now UEFA is planning to launch an investigation into the Qatari backed French club.
Loan system – a way to give younger players game time?
The loan system was originally a way of giving younger players a chance to play regular first team football, before hopefully breaking into their parent club’s first team. Prior to 2003, this would have been to a club in a different division.
Some of the Premier League’s biggest stars, including David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Harry Kane have all had their first taste of first team football in the lower leagues.
Now, it is commonplace for Premier League sides to facilitate loan deals between each other. More established players are also finding that a season out on loan to another club can boost and revitalize a stagnating career, Jack Wilshire spent last season on loan at AFC Bournemouth after having to deal with numerous injuries at his parent club Arsenal. Some players can find themselves on loan season after season before they establish themselves at their parent club or a transfer to a new side.
On paper this seems like a great deal for all involved, young players get the chance of regular first team football, the player’s parent club can see their young stars develop and the club that takes the players on loan gets to bolster their squad without having to pay out a transfer fee. This is great for clubs lower down the football league, they get to field players that have been nurtured at some of the world’s best footballing academies and get bragging rights if one of them goes on to become a footballing superstar.
If the loan system is not actually abused, it definitely can be taken advantage of, as the sides with the most financial clout can attract more young emerging players. As well as naming a 25 man squad for the up coming season, a club can have as many under 21 players as they want.
So we have a scenario of the richest clubs having entire squads of young players sent out on loan, both at home and on the continent. Manchester City and Chelsea are prime examples of sides taking advantage of the loan system. Chelsea have loaned out 33 players at the start of this the 2017/18 season. Out of these players how many will find their into the Chelsea starting line up in the future? Who knows? But Chelsea will be hoping that they will unearth another player who lights up Stamford Bridge.
Even if a player does not make it back to play for the clubs first eleven, clubs are more than happy to cash in on a player who has impressed while out on loan. Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku was brought by Chelsea for £18 million, while he never managed to force his way into the Chelsea team, he certainly impressed away from Stamford Bridge, securing a permanent move to Everton, and is now playing for Manchester United under Jose Mourinho after a £75 million move in the summer transfer window.
Football’s governing bodies have put rules in place to stop a club fielding too many loan players, but though they are alarmed by the game’s wealthiest clubs stockpiling talented youngsters then sending them out on loan, they have yet to bring in new regulations to combat the problem.