8 of the best loan spells in Europe over the last decade
Footballers are expensive. At the highest level of the sport, the fees clubs are willing to pay for players without any concrete assurance that they will perform well is truly staggering when placed in a wider context.
However, executives with a keen eye on the club’s coffers practice the age-old business principle of ‘try before you buy’ in the loan market.
While Radamel Falcao’s misadventure at Manchester United will forever serve as a disastrous example, Sheffield United’s capture of Dean Henderson from the Red Devils can be seen as glorious proof of a result at the other end of the spectrum.
As the Blades quickly gain approval from Manchester United for a Henderson’s contract extensionlet’s take a look at some of the other great examples of temporary employment across Europe over the past decade.
Real Madrid’s current number one cut his teeth the league across the Spanish capital on a three-year loan spell with Atlético Madrid, which began a day after Chelsea snapped him up from Genk in 2011.
Courtois missed three league games in his time with Diego Simeone’s Atleti, his 6’6 frame forming a formidable figure behind a parsimonious backline as he capped his red-and-white spell with a La Liga title .
Given the sheer volume of Chelsea players populating the footballing ether, it’s perhaps unsurprising to find two entrants on this list.
A 19 year old Romelu Lukakudesperate for minutes at senior level after spending most of his debut campaign in blue with the Under-21s, found an opportunity in the Midlands with West Brom.
The Belgian has netted 17 Premier League goals this campaign which failed to convince Chelsea to give him a regular starting spot. Nonetheless, Lukaku still fondly looks back on that era with The Baggies, summing it up simply as “excellent memories.”
Newcastle were among the first to sign some of the highest paid talent who fell with QPR in 2013. Remy swapped his hoops for black and white stripes, scoring 14 goals in what would prove to be his only season on Tyneside in as Mike. Ashley was reluctant to shell out the necessary sum.
Chelsea replaced the Frenchman as Newcastle moved from 10th to 15th place, but Remy has never been able to replicate that blistering form since.
Perhaps at the height of their player recruiting powers, Toby Alderweireld joined Southampton in the summer of 2014, the same day Sadio Mané arrived on the south coast.
The Belgian centre-back had struggled for opportunities in his first season in Spain but Saints boss Ronald Koeman, remembering Alderweireld’s time with Ajax, secured him a season-long loan. A fate impressive enough to earn him a transfer to Tottenham Hotspur the following summer.
Three years after finishing top scorer at the 2014 World Cup, James Rodríguez had dropped drastically in Zinedine Zidane’s pecking order. But his loan move to the perennial Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich seemed to have rethought his career.
James thrived in midfield or as part of Bayern’s front three, floating menacingly all over the pitch with a particularly memorable display in a 6-0 gutting of Borussia Dortmund.
Having never reached double figures in a top-flight European campaign before donning that infamous golden jersey, Jiménez looked like a risk as a first-choice striker for a newly-promoted side (and therefore a use). perfect loan system).
But the Mexican exceeded what the English top flight had to offer by 13, securing seven more assists as Wolves produced one of the most impressive campaigns for a freshly promoted club in years.
Zapata more than doubled his goalscoring tally from the previous season by netting 23 Serie A goals for Atalanta in 2018/19.
The Sampdoria loanee finished three goals clear of the Capocannoniere crown but Atalanta slipped into the Champions League places and recorded the club’s best result in Serie A, largely thanks to the Colombian’s goals.
The jet-heeled Morocco international is in the midst of a superb two-year loan spell with Borussia Dortmund. After ending his debut campaign early through injury (leaving the top-flight side only to have their lead wasted in his absence), the 21-year-old’s second season has been even more impressive.
The stamina and fearsome pace he possesses have been maximized thanks to his new role at right-back. As he attempts to cover every blade of grass on that flank in every game, Hakimi has added assists to his ever-expanding arsenal of skills.
Dortmund will surely do everything in their power to make this loan a bit more permanent.