Would Scrapping The Loan System Be Such A Bad Idea?

Time to ditch loan deal? (Image from wikipedia)With transfer fees climbing year after year, there appears to be little solace for clubs who are barely struggling to make ends meet. The gap between those who have and those who have not is widening at an alarming pace, with a few clubs pulling away from the crowd thanks in part to their wealthy owners. The Bosman ruling, which came into effective in 1995, was meant to offer some rest bite from the fast pace rise of transfer fees, with clubs now able to pick up a player at no cost when their contract expired. The ruling offer hope to many that dreamed of making a star signing but could not afford it and for a time, it looked to be the case. But now the Bosman is working against clubs who are watching in vein as the top clubs stockpile the best talent in over bloated squads.

Bosman ruling allowed for freedom of movement when a contract expires(Image from PA)

Bosman ruling allowed for freedom of movement when a contract expires(Image from PA)

Placing limitations on squad sizes and requirements around the percentage of home grown talent as part of that squad will go some way to helping the problem. But by limitations, we do not mean the current guidelines in place. In the Premier League, teams are required to submit a list of 25 players, of which 8 must be home grown (defined as anyone who has been registered with any club in the English or Welsh leagues for three seasons prior to their 21st birthday). In the Premiership, the five biggest clubs – Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City employ between them 167 first team players and are currently loaning out 95 players to other clubs. This 95 is made up in its majority by Under 21 players but also includes international players like Gareth Barry, Pepe Reina, Romelu Lukaku, Marko Marin, Park Chu Young and Wilfred Zaha. These players in particular have left their respective clubs in search of first team football but the club does not want to let them go fully as they may need them at a later date. The clubs have figured out how to retain the top talent but also adhere to the Premier League rules and regulations around squad sizing, making a mockery of the entire system. The loan deal between two clubs allows the player to go and play for another club for a set period of time, sometimes for an agreed fee or a percentage of that player’s wage.

Gareth Barry - Everton player by loan  (Image from Getty)

Gareth Barry – Everton player by loan
(Image from Getty)

From a football prospective this makes complete sense but in the business world, it would be absurd. Football is a job and the players are employees of a company much like any other business but when was the last time you heard of a company allowing one of its employees to go and work for a competitor? Would Google ever lend a programmer to Microsoft or Adidas allow a designer to go and be creative for Nike? No, of course they wouldn’t. But in football the loan system is a legitimate business transaction. Clubs in the lower leagues rely on loan deals as they cannot afford to buy players so clubs will argue that the loan system is crucial. Larger clubs will argue that it gives their younger players first team football and the ability to further develop their skill sets before being exposed to first team football at their own clubs.

Nike and Adidas ae unlikely to allow job sharing  (Image from Getty)

Nike and Adidas are unlikely to allow job sharing
(Image from Getty)

If the loan system was abolished and clubs were held to tighter reins on squad sizes, including limitations on the volume ownership of players over 21, clubs would have to be more selective on who they chose. This would mean that purchasing would be limited to filling the available spots and more players would be available for transfer. With less demand, prices should fall making them more affordable clubs with tighter budgets. The benefits remain the same, with quality players like Gareth Barry getting regular first team games at Everton but as an Everton player rather than being still a Manchester City player. The move would also force English clubs to follow their French counterparts in fielding more home grown youth players instead of sending them out on loans. Exposure at the top levels will speed up their development quicker than playing at a slower pace against arguably weaker opposition week in week out. Look at Cesc Fabergas or Wayne Rooney as examples of young players who were thrown into the deep end in the Premiership at an early age instead of being sent out on loan and how they blossomed into the players they are today. Yes both were unique talents but taking more risks will help England to discover the next Ross Barkley or Luke Shaw quicker than before. The French benefited from this enforced change by watching their national team 10 years later lifting the World Cup on home soil with players who emerged based on these rule changes.

Discovering the next Ross Barkley by ditching loans?  (Image from PA)

Discovering the next Ross Barkley by ditching loans?
(Image from PA)

There are arguments for and against the loan system including some well known ones such as journalist Martin Samuel and Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger who both believe the loan system is damaging the game. Managers like Roberto Martinez see the benefits of the system mostly because they are using it to their advantage. Others agree arguing that the game will suffer and lower league football will be killed off if the loan system disappeared but those voices appear to be coming more from the bigger clubs rather than the football league teams themselves. The football world feared the Bosman ruling when it happened but the positive effect of it was that it changed the way that clubs treated players and their contracts, preferring to renegotiate and keep them rather than lose them for nothing. Scrapping the loan system may have a similar affect, this time on the transfer market, helping to lower the cost of transfers in the long term but like the Bosman ruling or the changes made to squad sizes in France, we will only find out if it is introduced sooner rather than later.

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Atletico La Liga Victory Parade On Hold Due To Travel Issues

Atletico celebrate their first title in 18 years (Image from AP)Imagine waiting a long time for something and then not being able to do it due to bad planning. Well that’s exactly what Atletico Madrid are going through right now. The new la Liga champions, who secured their first title in 18 years, are being forced to wait until the start of next season to get their hands on the trophy because Spanish football president Angel Maria Vilar was travelling. Some would say its bad timing given the significance of Sunday’s title decider. But others may feel that it’s a deliberate snub by a man who is rumoured to have grown up as a Real Madrid fan. In any case, it is a black mark against the 64 year old who has been Spanish President since 1988. After one of the most exciting La Liga seasons in the past 20 years, for Vilar not be present at a match of this significance to Spanish football is baffling. Why Vilar did not cancel his travel plans to ensure he would be at the Nou Camp to present the winner with the trophy is unknown. At best he should have appointed someone else to the role to ensure that the season ended on a high. Now trophyless, Atletico are unable to do a well deserved victory parade.

Vilar was on hand last season to present the trophy to Barcelona  (Image from AFP)

Vilar was on hand last season to present the trophy to Barcelona
(Image from AFP)

Not that Diego Simeone will mind as he now switches his focus to this Saturday’s Champions League final against city rivals Real. Injuries to star striker Diego Costa and Turkish midfielder Arda Turan are legitimate concerns for Simone as they look to win their first ever Champions League trophy and end the season with a famous double. Real too have injury worries with Cristiano Ronaldo struggling to shake off a thigh strain. However with Gareth Bale on form and Karin Benzema firing on all cylinders again, Real Madrid are a formidable force with or without Ronaldo. Atletico will know that they need to be at full strength if they are to repeat their win from last year’s Copa del Rey final and will need Costa and Turan fit to do so. Costa limped off after 14 minutes against Barcelona with a tweak of his hamstring that has been troubling him for a few months now. Turan followed seven minutes later after landing heavily and awkwardly on his back following a strong challenge by Cesc Fabregas. The Turkish midfielder is so often the creator of opportunities for Atletico so his absence will be a bitter blow. His chances of making Saturday’s showcase in Lisbon is rated as slim however Costa is more likely to recover and be ready to face Real.

Sweating over Costa and Turan  (Image from Getty)

Sweating over Costa and Turan
(Image from Getty)

Celebrations have been cut short by Simeone who needs his players to remain focused and ready for the challenge ahead. One final effort to round off a dream season for Atletico. Victory parade or not, Atletico will be prepared to face Real Madrid and its star studded lineup. Angel Maria Vilar is expected to be in the crowd presumably cheering on both sides but the responsibility of handing out the trophy will fall to UEFA president Michel Platini who is unlikely to miss such a momentous occasion. If Atletico do win the match, then Simeone and his players may just get the victory parade that they deserve.

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Will Messi’s Latest Injury Hinder Barcelona’s Season?

Messi ruled out for 6-8 weeks (Image from PA)Despite winning 4-1 over the weekend against Real Betis, many Barcelona fans were left feeling bitter after their talisman Lionel Messi picked up a hamstring injury which has ruled him out for six to eight weeks. Can the Catalans keep up their hot form going into the New Year or is this a chance for Atletico Madrid or the Bale/Ronaldo inspired Real Madrid to catch up with the early pacemakers?

Bale and Ronaldo lead the chasing pack  (Image from AFP)

Bale and Ronaldo lead the chasing pack
(Image from AFP)

This is the fourth muscle injury the striker has suffered in the past eight months and there are concerns that if these injuries continue to reoccur that this could hinder his goal scoring record and possibly his team’s domestic ambitions. The Argentine limped off after eighteen minutes with the score at 0-0 as his team went on to win the game which kept them three points clear of Atletico Madrid. A double from Cesc Fabregas as well as goals from Pedro and Neymar secured the win. Just over a week ago many critics questioned Messi’s form after he went on a four game goal drought but this soon came to an end with a penalty scored in Milan. Now the striker has been ruled out for almost two months and now they are asking where the team’s the goals will come from.

Barca romped to a 4-1 win despite losing Messi  (Image from Getty)

Barca romped to a 4-1 win despite losing Messi
(Image from Getty)

Here is how vital Messi’s goals have been to Barcelona’s last few league campaigns:

2009-10 = Barcelona scored 98 goals (Messi = 34) = 37%

2010-11 = Barcelona scored 95 goals (Messi = 31) = 33%

2011-12 = Barcelona scored 114 goals (Messi = 50) = 44%

2012–13 = Barcelona scored 115 goals (Messi = 46) = 40%

Each of the past four seasons, Messi has contributed to at least a third of the team’s goals and in the 2011-12 season, he scored a half century yet the team came second to Real Madrid that year. No other player has come close to his total in these campaigns. Last year the second highest scorer was Cesc Fabregas with eleven. Although his scoring record is quite startling, his side haven’t suffered when he has been absent. The team have won all of their last nine games without the twenty six year old. Alexis Sanchez has been on clinical form for the side scoring seven already and Neymar also has four to his name. So Barcelona may have some firepower behind their star man but how long can they hold form for? Sanchez had a fairly quite season last year compared to his Argentine team mate scoring just eight in the league and although Neymar was prolific in Brazil, can he live up to his £48.6 million price tag?

Neymar can pick up the slack from Messi  (Image from Getty)

Neymar can pick up the slack from Messi
(Image from Getty)

For the Madrid sides, this latest injury woe could swing the title odds in their favour. Atletico Madrid (currently the better side in the capital), have only failed to win on two occasions from their first thirteen matches. Diego Costa has been red hot in front of goal for the side, netting an average of a goal per game. Real Madrid have obviously got the talent to take advantage of this situation. Cristiano Ronaldo already has sixteen goals and we’re only in November and Gareth Bale is adapting well to life in Madrid with three goals in fewer matches. Arguably the La Liga leaders should be able to hold steady until Messi returns but Gerardo Martino has revealed that he will need to talk to his star man:

He said: “We will have to talk to Messi and see if he is effected because of this. This is his third injury of the season. It is true that it did not take him long to overcome the first but this is the third one and could affect him mentally.”

Headache for Martino?  (Image from Getty)

Headache for Martino?
(Image from Getty)

Here are the next five fixtures in the league for the top three.


  • Granada CF (H)
  • Athletico Bilbao (A)
  • Villarreal (H)
  • Getafe (A)
  • Elche (H)


  • Getafe (H)
  • Elche (A)
  • Valencia (H)
  • Levante (H)
  • Malaga (A)


  • Almeria (A)
  • Real Valladolid (H)
  • Osasuna (A)
  • Valencia (A)
  • Celta de Vigo (H)

Atletico have got a good run into Christmas whereas Barcelona have tough fixtures away at Bilbao and Getafe to come so it could be interesting to see if Los Rojiblancos can push their way to the top. With Messi likely missing until early January, the pressure will be on Barcelona to see if they can keep up the pace and hold on to top spot in La Liga without him.

Blog by Richard Waterhouse

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