In the world of professional football, loan deals can be used in numerous different ways. If a team has a player that they want to see gain some experience but don’t want to play them often in their first team, for example, then they can look towards the loan system. Similarly, a player that is no longer required by the club but that they don’t want to sell can be loaned out in an effort to see them play some football and maybe catch the attention of a buying club. On top of that, the club loaning them might end up buying them at the end of the loan.
Having a wealth of players on the books might seem like a good thing, giving the manager a host of choices when it comes to his first-team squad. In reality, however, it can lead to a football club having countless different players out on loan and unavailable to play matches for the team that owns them. It is a complicated world, with the structure of loan deals adding a level of complexity to things. The likes of what percentage of the player’s wages are paid is up for negotiation, as well as how many games they’ll end up playing during the loan.
How Loan Deals Work
In a loan deal, players gain permission from the club that they are registered with to go and play for a different team on a temporary basis. The club that the player joins doesn’t have to pay a transfer fee to obtain the services of the player, instead usually paying a good chunk of their wages for the duration of their time at the club. There are certain rules that are in place when it comes to loans, including the fact that the player is usually not allowed to play against their parent club in competitions, unless an exception has been made.
Interestingly, this rule does not apply in the UEFA-run Champions League. Instead, loan players are able to play against their parent club, if the club that actually owns the player has allowed it. In the 2019-2020 Champions League campaign, for example, Philippe Coutinho was on loan from Barcelona to Bayern Munich when the two teams were drawn against each other in the quarter-finals of the competition. He scored twice, helping the German club to an 8-2 aggregate victory over the Spanish side, who were in a state of crisis at the time.
If a team is looking to sign a player permanently, they need to do it within the strict window of time that is in-play in January and the summer. The same is not the case with loans, however, so clubs can take advantage of that and sign players on loans at other times. Teams are able to bring in a player on an emergency loan when they have had an injury crisis in a certain position, say, or they need a player to head out in order to gain some experience with another club. This can obviously confuse things when it comes to transfers.
Structure Of Loan Deals
Loan deals usually tend to last a few months, but it is possible for them to last for several seasons. It is also not uncommon for a player to go out on several loans back-to-back, depending on how much their parent club needs them. In the Premier League, clubs cannot have more than two players on loan at the same time. Indeed, during the course of an entire season a Premier League side can only register four loanees and only one can come from the same club. In terms of the actual structure of the loan, it will differ from club to club.
Generally speaking, the club loaning the player will pay at least a portion of their wages. Exactly how much of the player’s wages will be paid by the loaning club will be dependent on the agreement reached between clubs concerned. If a club is wanting to get a player off their books because their wages are too expensive, for example, then it is likely that they will make it a condition of their loan that the other club covers most of this cost. If they want to get them out of the door so that they can register someone else, meanwhile, then they will likely pay some of the departing player’s wages.
How the loan is structured will also lead to a player either being signed at the end of it or else returned to their parent club. Sometimes the club loaning the player will have an obligation to buy, which means that they have to buy the player at the end of the loan spell and it is essentially a system that allows both clubs to play the books slightly. They might have an option to buy, meaning that if the player has performed well enough then the club that loaned them might choose to buy them for a pre-agreed price. Alternatively, they might just head back to their parent club.
There are numerous parts of a player’s contract that have to be dealt with in a loan agreement. In the modern era, most players have all sorts of bonuses and other payments in place depending on their achievements during their playing career. The likes of assist, goal and win bonuses are in place, paid out every time they assist a goal, score a goal or the team wins the match that they’re playing in. In a loan, these bonuses don’t necessarily get paid, with decisions made on such things taken when the loan agreement is being drawn up.
It is impossible to talk in specifics, simply because of how many different deals there are running at any given moment. If you look at just Chelsea, for example, then you’re talking about a team with dozens of players out on loan at any given time. Sometimes, said players are gaining experience ahead of a possible return to Stamford Bridge, whilst other times it is because they’re never going to make it in West London and therefore need to be playing elsewhere in order to gain experience and hopefully increase their price tag.