Every year, soccer clubs around the world involve themselves in what we know as the “transfer window”. There are two every season – Summer and January. During these transfer windows, clubs purchase and acquire services of players in order to bring more squad depth, competition, and boost the position of the club to a higher level.
However, there are some clubs who do not participate as much in purchasing players due to a strict transfer budget, debt and other factors. The only way these clubs can compete with limited circumstances is through loan deals, on which they acquire the services of a player from another club for the rest of season. A loan deal is a win-win situation for both the clubs who are involved, since one side can take advantage of the player’s services, abilities and experience while the loaning club is giving that player more opportunity and chances to develop further.
This season of 2013/2014, there have been many loan deals that have changed the position of certain clubs around the world and has made them more competitive in all aspects of the game.
Here are the top 10 loan deals:
10 Dimitar Berbatov (Fulham to AS Monaco)
On the last day of the January transfer window, the 33 year old Bulgarian striker was loaned to newly promoted Ligue 1 side, AS Monaco. The former Manchester United striker joined Fulham FC in August 2012 and scored 7 times out of 19 appearances in all competitions. When an injury crisis hit AS Monaco’s main striker, Radamel Falcao, the landing of Dimitar Berbatov on a loan deal seemed the only logical choice to replace him, due to his experience. The outcome of this loan was shown quickly as Berbatov managed to score the only goal against Nice in the Coupe De France to send the Red and Whites through to the quarterfinals. By this move itself, it showed that AS Monaco still can be competitive without their main striker and that Berbatov can still bring some attacking threat to the opposition.
9 Adel Taarabt (Fulham to AC Milan)
On January 30th, 2014, AC Milan acquired the services of the 24 year old Moroccan international, Adel Taarabt – which has surprised many people due to his current lack of form. The attacking midfielder made his name by being part of the QPR side that pushed their way to promotion from the Championship to the English Premier League. Unfortunately, Taarabt was lacking in his form and was dismissed by newly appointed manager, Harry Redknapp, from his plans. He was then loaned out to relegation threatened Premier League side, Fulham FC, on which he made 1 assist in 13 appearances of all competitions for the club. Despite the hopes of getting his form back in shape, Taarabt still could not find ground at Craven Cottage until AC Milan approached. Under new manager Clarence Seedorf, Taarabt was given a new lease on life to show his true capabilities. In two appearances for the Rossoneiri, Taarabt scored in the 3-1 loss against Napoli. By this performance, Taarabt is still pushing to get back to form and hopes to impress AC Milan enough to get him to the San Siro permanently.
8 Tom Ince (Blackpool to Crystal Palace)
He was linked to many clubs over the summer and January transfer windows, and all the speculation, rumours and drama ended when he signed a loan deal with Crystal Palace till the end of the season. The 22 year old winger started his career in the Liverpool youth system and worked his way up to senior level. However, the lack of opportunities limited him to expand himself further as player. He then signed a 2 year contract with Blackpool in 2011 and made his mark on the English game. In this season alone, Ince has made 23 appearances for the Championship club, with 7 goals and 6 assists. Many clubs wanted to sign him due to his potential, however, relegation battling Crystal Palace eventually got him on loan to join the Eagles’ campaign. So far, he has made an immediate impact for the club by scoring his first goal and assist in his first appearance. If he continues to push himself to battle for the team, there should be no surprise if Crystal Palace avoids relegation this season.
7 Wilfried Zaha (Manchester United to Cardiff City)
As part of the transfer deal between Crystal Palace and Manchester United in January 2013, Zaha was to be loaned back for the rest of that season. When the Eagles were promoted to the Premier League with the help of Zaha, he returned to Old Trafford where United were undergoing some changes, such as the appointment of David Moyes as manager. The 21 year old forward was not seen as a part of Moyes’ plans and was loaned to Cardiff City in January – a side that is currently battling relegation. With the experience gained when he was at Selhurst Park, he can prove that his abilities can make a difference for the Bluebirds. If successful, Zaha could cement his position at Old Trafford for next season.
6 Gareth Barry (Manchester City to Everton)
Under Manchester City’s new manager, Manuel Pellegrini, many changes were made to the squad, such as the purchases of Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho from Shaktar Donetsk, and forwards Alvaro Negredo and Jesus Navas from Sevilla. This limited the 32 year old’s chances of being part of Pellegrini’s plans. In the summer transfer window, Everton FC got the English international on a loan deal that would last till the end of the season. This brought more depth and strength to their midfield. Barry started making an immediate impact for the Toffees, by scoring 3 goals and 3 assists in his 23 appearances. Currently, Everton are battling for the top five of the Premier League, and if Barry continues to contribute and help in the battle for Europe next season, it should not be a surprise if a permanent deal is found.
5 Lewis Holtby (Tottenham to Fulham)
The German international midfielder was hailed as a promising young star prior to signing for the North London side, Tottenham Hotspurs. Despite making 25 appearances, scoring 3 goals and 7 assists, Holtby was not in the plans of Andre Villa Boas’ replacement, Tim Sherwood. Fulham FC then acquired Holtby through a loan deal in the January transfer window, which added more quality to the relegation threatened side. If Holtby continues to make a positive effect for the Cottagers and help them out of relegation, this will definitely make a impact on his career at White Hart Lane and perhaps, win him a place in the German squad for the 2014 World Cup.
4 Thibault Courtois (Chelsea to Atletico Madrid)
The Belgian international has definitely made his mark in his career and a bright future awaits him at Chelsea FC, once Petr Cech retires. Courtois was signed by the Blues from Belgian side, K.R.C Genk, in 2011, but failed to make any appearances due to limited opportunities. La Liga side, Atletico Madrid, got the 21 year old on loan and he has shown his ability and potential ever since. He impressed so much that Atletico wanted him for a second season on loan. In his two years there, he has helped the team win the Europa League, Copa Del Rey, UEFA Super Cup, Champions League football, and a current top three position in the La Liga. If the Belgian continues to have strong showings, then the question of who will succeed Petr Cech is answered– that is if Atletico does not offer a permanent move for him.
3 Gerard Deulofeu (Barcelona to Everton)
The 19 year old Barcelona product showed what he is worth this season. Raised up in the Barcelona youth academy, Deulofeu moved up the ranks and eventually to the senior team. Despite this, Deulofeu was not in the plans of manager Gerardo Martino and was loaned to Premier League side, Everton FC. Under new manager Roberto Martinez, he quickly made his mark at Goodison Park, by scoring 3 times and 2 assists in his 15 appearances. Despite being out two months due to a hamstring injury, he has made Everton deadly in the final attacking third, leaving many Everton fans to yearn for his return from injury and show what he can do once again.
2 Julio Cesar (QPR to Toronto FC)
Brazilian international Julio Cesar made headlines recently with news of his loan deal to play for MLS side, Toronto FC, for the rest of the season. The 34 year old QPR goalkeeper failed to get any opportunities at Queens Park Rangers since he was not in the plans of manager Harry Redknapp. As the 2014 World Cup begins on June 12 in Brazil, Cesar wants to make his mark as the number one choice for Brazil and in order to do that, he must play. This move itself is not only going to be a positive for Cesar’s career, but also for the MLS as it helps grow it's credibility.
1 Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea to Everton)
Under new manager, Jose Mourinho, Chelsea FC were undergoing some major changes in regards to their attacking options. With the capture of Willian and Samuel Eto'o from Anzhi Makhachkala, this gave limited opportunities for the 20 year old Belgian striker . On the final day of the summer transfer window, the Blues loaned Lukaku to Premier League side, Everton FC, as he was not a part of Mourinho’s plans. Out of 23 appearances for the Toffees, he has scored 9 times with 6 assists this season. He quickly settled in and became a major threat for Everton. In the first half of the season, he has scored more times than any of the other strikers at Chelsea. Currently injured, when Lukaku does comes back, he will definitely make his mark for the Belgium national team at the World Cup and perhaps, place regret in Mourinho’s mind that he should have not let him go.