Where should we loan him?
Loaning out a young player comes with risk. There is no guarantee it will continue his development any better than staying at ‘home’, not to mention the uncertainties around putting him at the mercy of often unknown coaches, players and physios.
However, without some risk there is often no reward, so the question turns to finding the club that is right ‘fit’ for the player. This needn’t be a laborious process. A simple filter, as illustrated below for an Arsenal striker like Chuba Akpom, can highlight a couple of potential destination clubs that can be approached in the first instance. This is a process that can manage the risk, and give ourselves the best chance of making the experience valuable in the player’s development.
The filters go as follows:
- Club ranked between 50th – 250th in 21st Club’s European Super League: it is unlikely an elite side would need an untested centre forward, but we may still want him playing alongside players of a reasonable standard – inside the top 250 teams in Europe
- Play in a relatively similar style to Arsenal: given the hope that Akpom may eventually become a first team player for Arsenal, it would be sensible to have him playing for a team that doesn’t play direct or defend particularly deep
- Have fewer than 6 attackers in squad: this would help highlight teams that have relatively fewer options in attack, and may be looking for greater depth
- Have an ageing attack: filtering for teams that have 2 or more attackers aged 27+ might mean these teams are looking for younger talent. What’s more, the loanee may have the opportunity to learn from some more experienced heads
The filters could of course be altered or removed – perhaps we would want to identify teams that play two up front to give a better chance of playing time, and often there are further geographical and cultural issues to consider. What’s more, the filter can produce an outcome that can be mutually beneficial for both clubs, in highlighting squads with potential needs in personnel.
While opportunism around loan deals can occasionally strike gold, a strategic process can partially de-risk a potentially key phase in a player’s development.