On Football Manager it can be usual to stockpile young players but their development is stagnated due to a lack of playing time. A good way to make sure they can develop and get first team football gametime is to use the loan market.
Over the course of my save I have used the loan market for a number of reasons to help player development.

  • Not ready for first team but too good for B team
  • Playing pathway blocked
  • Player Promise
  • Uncertain future
  • Increase player sale value

Not ready for first team but too good for B team – In my situation I have a B team so I can offer a squad of players first team football but some times thats not a high enough standard.

Playing pathway blocked – Sometimes a player is ready but you have too many players in that role, so rather than a season on the bench the best move is a loan for regular first team football.

Player promise – When signing a young player or renewing a contract a player might demand a loan promise.

Uncertain Future – When you’re not sure what to do with the player, will he be good enough? A loan can buy you another 12 months to see before deciding

Increase Player sale value – Sometimes you want to sell a player but his value is low, a good loan can increase his value

Below we will look at some case studies of players I’ve loaded out for different reasons. The main thing to look at when loaning players out are

  • Age
  • Standard of football
  • Playing time status
  • Formation and Tactic loan club plays
  • Loan club squad

Age – Under 18 I don’t loan out, The only time I would loan someone aged 17 out is if they’re going to turn 18 within the first 6 months of the loan. Under 18’s benefit more from training and unlikely to be a higher standard than your club.

Standard of football – You need to ensure that the loan club plays a standard relevant to your player, You want it to be a level to challenge him but not too hard. A level for him to flourish but not too easy.

Playing time statusMinimum Regular starter, if possible Important Player. If they offer Squad player I don’t even negotiate it because they never play above squad player, I reject anything below Regular Starter 

Formation and Tactic of Loan Club – What tactic do the loan club play, Make sure that your player fits their tactic and style. If your player is a winger and the club play 352 with no wingers it will be a wasted loan.

Loan Club Squad – Look at the loan club squad, make sure there’s a need for your player. If they play a 1 striker formation and have 4 strikers already on the books it might not be the right move for him.

(All images enlarge when clicking)

Case Study 1 – Rodrigo Ribeiro – Next first team striker

When I started the save Ribeiro quickly appeared as a potential star, And I rejected a €11m bid from PSG in the first winter window. He started the first season in the B Team and scored 9 in 17 before being promoted to the first team after the first winter. For the next 3 seasons he mainly played as a sub and rotation option and I could feel his progress stagnating and there were questions about his long term career at the club. So I decided a loan was the best option, Galatasaray appeared as the best choice, He was a first choice striker and scored 11 in 24 for them. Following that I then sent him out again on loan to Monaco, Where he played 14 and scored 3 but his stats were really good, So in that winter I recalled him to see if he was ready and he scored 10 in 17 games to the end of the season.

Going into the 2029/30 season he will now be our first choice striker. You can see how well he’s developed.

You can see here the loans have paid off, He maybe would have benefitted from loans sooner but he almost wasn’t good enough to get a loan that would have suited him.

Case Study 2 – Rui Cunha – Wonderkid potential world class

My scouts identified Cunha as a prospect early on aged 15 after following him for 4 seasons We made the move to bring him in for €20m, one clause was to loan him back which I didn’t mind as the previous season he had scored 6 and set up 7 in 30 league games so he clearly was going to be a starter.

A injury hindered his season but he still played 24 games scoring 4 and setting up 6. He was obviously too good for Rui Cunha but I didn’t have the space for him and he wouldn’t be a starter for another 12 months so another loan was found to Villarreal which was a step up again. With an average rating of 7.25 6 goals and 4 assists he attracted Arsenal to make a €53m rising to €66m offer.

 

You can see why Arsenal wanted him, at 21 he has developed well, this player shows how well we highlight a youth prospect at another club , trusted our recruitment staff to pay a large fee which then we got more than treble back without him ever making an appearance at the club.

Case Study 3 – David Goncalves – Future National defender

Aged 16 our scouts found Goncalves at Tondela in their youth set up, a €2.5m fee was agreed for him to join us. I promised him a loan deal, Luckily Belenenses in the second division were interested. After 30 games and a average rating of 6.70 he showed he was ready for another step up, West Brom in Championship were identified as a good next move for him.

After a successful loan, we felt he needed another step up, Recently promoted Serie A team Monza were chosen as they played with a back 5 so he had a higher chance of gametime than a team that played a back 4. After 17 games we recalled him for the rest of the season due to player sales and his good performance. He was then in the first team until the following winter when Real Sociedad saw enough to pay €38m for him.

I enjoyed the progress of this player. Whilst I’d have liked to keep him he was keen to move. But we found him as a youngster, he slowly developed season on season moving up standard of football and doing well.

Case Study 4 – Omar Fellahi – Player development to sell on

As I shared here in this post (Youth Recruitment) I spend a lot of time on setting up focuses to find talent across the globe. These could be to buy for first team or youth players to develop and sell on. Omar Fellahi was one of those found by my scouts. €2.4m was invested in him.

Signing at 18 he needed game time, We decided to send him back to Sweden his home nation for 6 months. He did well enough there to show he was ready to step up to top flight.

Rio Ave are a good benchmark club for our loanees so after a season there where he played well Mainz in Germany was the next step. His performances here meant Ajax showed interest in signing him for his €15m release clause

As you can see he has developed well as a player out on loan.

Case Study 5 – Petru Bobrov – Long Term first team striker

I mentioned Ribeiro above but we always need one eye on the future and Bobrov came through my intakes as a potential long term first team striker

After coming through the intake a loan move to Feirense in the second division was arranged, he didn’t start so I quickly recalled him before the window closed. He did well in Liga 3 enough to interest FC Twente in a loan move the following season.

He then got the chance at a higher level with Koln and performed well for a midtable team, the next move was to a title chasing team in Monaco this season.

As you can see his physicals have exploded and he’s on the right track for first team football here and he’s just made his international debut.

Case Study 6 – Eduardo Felicissimo – Increase Player sale value

Felicissimo was identified early on as a potential first team squad player depending on other prospects coming through, so I set out to develop him with the potential to either sell or keep around first team squad.

I started the save with the B team in Liga 3 and he was already playing above this so a loan to Leiria in the second division helped him develop, the following season following the B team’s promotion he stayed with the B team. They soon got relegated so a move back into that division with Portimonense was found and he had a great season there. He then stepped into top flight with Casa Pia. After a good season with the relegation battlers, Celta in Spain was the next move. After that I felt he still wasn’t ready so he returned to Portimonese who had just been promoted for a year at top flight again.
Here I wanted him to sign a long term deal as a squad player which he rejected and informed me he wouldn’t be renewing his deal.
A move to Empoli was agreed where he is now enjoying life in Italy.

He developed into a well rounded player who could have been a squad player here. But €4.4m is a decent fee and we have a 40% sell on.

Case Study 7 – Joao Infante – The B Team Striker – Player Promises

As I only play with 1 striker I only like to keep 2 strikers in the first team. Infante was identified as a future B Team striker who could step up as the backup in case of injury or quota reasons. Through the years and new deals I’ve used loans to develop him but also as promises to get him to sign new deals so we didnt lose him like Felicissimo above.

He was first sent out on loan to Belenenses when the B team were in the 2nd division due to having too many strikers. He did well enough there to be the first choice B team striker when we were relegated. His performances there and a loan promise in his new contract saw him move to Bochum where he had a successful season. When he returned I wanted to test him in the top flight to see if he could do a job at that level. His 8 goals kept Chaves in the division. He signed a new long term deal and is now my B team striker.

As you can see The B Team suits him with 23 goals in the last 38 matches at that level. At 23 and his future here secure his development has gone well.

Case Study 8 – Anthony Garcia – The quick developer 

Garcia was spotted early on by my scouts, a note was set for a reminder of his 18th birthday as youth players are more likely to sign at 18. He came in that summer. After 3 games in the B Team he was already showing he was too good for that standard so a loan to the next division up was arranged.

After 26 games he showed for the time being he wasn’t ready for a massive jump yet so Union SG were found as the ideal next step. He had a great season there scoring 10 goals in 28 games at age 19 so now he’s moved to Italy and as you can see after 7 games he’s scored 4 goals. He’s developing really quick now so we need to keep an eye on him. His pathway is blocked so he likely will be on loan next year too.

 

Conclusion

As you can see, I put a lot of thought behind the loans, normally rejecting multiple unsuitable options each time. Finding the right loan is crucial to help with the players development and ensuring they get gametime at a good standard which suits them will pay off. Not every player is loaned out for the same reason either and you need to treat each player as a different case when deciding first is a loan the right move then which loan is the right move.

Author

  • Daniel Gear

    Dan Gear is a vibrant member of the Football Manager (FM) community, renowned for his engaging content and insightful tutorials. He illuminates complex FM concepts on "View From The Touchline" and shares engaging narratives through his unique European Journeyman save reveals. Dan's collaborative spirit shines in partnerships with fellow creators like FM Stag, unraveling new FM features. He's a co-host of the engaging "Grass N Gear" podcast, making the FM experience more enjoyable for many. With a blend of humor, expertise, and a knack for community engagement, Dan Gear's contributions significantly enrich the Football Manager community, making him a cherished figure among enthusiasts.

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