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Hits and Misses: Premier League loan signings 2021/22

Loan deals come in various forms in the Premier League, from emerging talents in search of regular first-team football to unwanted assets seeking a fresh chance.

Aston Villa last week completed the loan signing of Philippe Coutinho from Barcelona, with the midfielder announcing himself as an instant favourite with a late equaliser in the club’s 2-2 draw with Manchester United last weekend.

Having seen his career stall since leaving Liverpool for Barcelona, the Brazilian will hope his loan move can bring the best from him as he looks to revive his fortunes at Villa Park.

 

Following Coutinho’s dream debut, we’ve looked at some other notable loanees at Premier League clubs and assessed whether their temporary spells have been hits or misses so far this season.

Saul Niguez

Saul Niguez’s arrival at Chelsea was viewed as a coup by the European champions last summer, securing the signing of the Spain international from Atletico Madrid.

Saul had been linked with a host of leading clubs before his arrival at Chelsea, but has struggled to make an impact in a difficult debut season in the Premier League.

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The 27-year-old has started just two Premier League fixtures and was hauled off at half-time on both occasions, having been overran in the midfield during clashes with Aston Villa and Watford.

His limited opportunities this season have been restricted to cup competitions and it would take a remarkable turnaround over the second half of the season for Chelsea to pursue a permanent deal, with Saul having been amongst the most disappointing signings of the Premier League campaign.

He has, however, shown signs of improvement in recent weeks.

Verdict: Miss

Conor Gallagher

Given the struggles of Saul this season, could Chelsea be regretting their decision to allow Conor Gallagher to sign for Crystal Palace?

Gallagher has been a revelation since arriving on loan at Selhurst Park last summer, becoming a key figure in a new-look Eagles side under Patrick Vieira and earning a first cap for England during November’s international break.

The 21-year-old matured during a season on loan at West Brom last season and has kicked on another level during the current campaign, scoring seven goals and providing three assists for Palace so far this season.

Gallagher’s infectious energy and off-the-ball running have been central to Palace’s success and it will be fascinating to see how – or if – Thomas Tuchel integrates the midfielder into his plans next season.

Even in the event that Gallagher departs on a permanent basis next summer, he’s added huge value to the fee Chelsea can command for his services.

Verdict: Hit

Armando Broja

Another member of Chelsea’s loan brigade, Armando Broja has been given the chance to test himself at Premier League level this season with Southampton.

The Albania international enjoyed a productive campaign with Vitesse Arnhem last season and has continued his development at St Mary’s, scoring seven goals from just 11 starts across all competitions for the Saints.

Broja is one of just two u21 players – alongside Bukayo Saka – to have scored five or more goals in the Premier League this season and Southampton are believed to be keen on a permanent deal for the 20-year-old.

Thomas Tuchel gave little away when discussing Broja’s long-term future ahead of Chelsea’s draw with Brighton this week, but urged the forward to continue working hard and improving over the remainder of the campaign.

“He’s our player and he’s doing good, but at the same time it’s only half a season, so he needs to continue to improve and to make his statement at Southampton,” Tuchel said at his pre-match press conference.

“We have a reason why they are our players, they have quality and mentality and now they are out there on their own in different environments and clubs, and proving themselves.

“Armando’s getting better and better, he’s a very unique player with unique strengths in his game – he has speed, he’s robust and he’s a goalscorer.

“First of all now is not the moment to discuss about the summer – it’s the moment for him to stay calm and keep on improving.”

Verdict: Hit

Alphonse Areola

Alphonse Areola’s loan performances were some of the few highlights from Fulham’s relegation last season, with the goalkeeper named as the Cottagers’ Player of the Season despite their drop into the Championship.

West Ham moved quickly to sign the shot-stopper and boost their goalkeeping ranks, securing another loan for the Paris Saint-Germain star.

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The 28-year-old was brought in to compete with – and perhaps eventually replace – Lukasz Fabianski, but has been unable to dislodge the veteran as David Moyes has stuck with the tried and tested at the London Stadium.

Areola has made just eight appearances in cup competitions and has kept five clean sheets, but has failed to make a single Premier League appearance so far this season.

Given his past pedigree – winning league titles with PSG and Real Madrid – he will want to secure more minutes as he bids to make the France squad for the World Cup later this year.

Moyes’ overlooking of Areola this season could also prove short-sighted given Fabianski will turn 37 before the end of the current campaign.

Verdict: Miss

Hwang Hee-Chan

Hwang Hee-Chan has been sidelined in recent weeks with a hamstring injury, but his absence has not prevented Wolves’ determination to turn the loanee’s temporary deal into a permanent one.

Signed after a frustrating spell at RB Leipzig, the forward has rediscovered glimpses of the form that saw him monitored by several leading clubs during an impressive period at Red Bull Salzburg.

Hwang scored four goals in his first six league appearances for Wolves, forming an excellent understanding with Raul Jimenez and bringing speed and intelligent movement to Bruno Lage’s attack.

His goal return has slowed since that electric start, but his work-rate and willingness to make things happen has made him a favourite at Molineux across the opening months of the season.

Wolves have an option to sign the 25-year-old for a fee of around £14m and it appears a reasonable sum in the current market.

Verdict: Hit

Cristian Romero

Tottenham secured the signing of Cristian Romero from Atalanta last summer, bringing the centre-back to North London on an initial loan deal with the option to make the move permanent for a fee of around £42.5m.

Romero was named as Serie A’s best defender following an impressive 2020/21 season and it is expected that a permanent move to Spurs will be a formality despite a challenging debut season.

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The Argentina international endured a difficult start to his career with the club and has been sidelined for the past two months with a serious hamstring injury, the centre-back having featured for just two fixtures under new manager Antonio Conte.

Conte will be familiar with the 23-year-old’s qualities, however, and will hope Romero can boost his side in the coming weeks as he nears a return to first-team action.

It’s difficult to give Romero anything but a miss give his impact so far, but hopes remain high that he will become a crucial figure for Conte.

Verdict: Miss

Ademola Lookman

Ademola Lookman was another member of Fulham’s relegated side last season, scoring four goals and providing four assists for the west Londoners.

Leicester moved to sign the winger on loan during the summer transfer window, with the 24-year-old having been deemed surplus to requirements at RB Leipzig.

Lookman has failed to make an impression since leaving Everton for the Bundesliga, but could secure a permanent return to English football after making a valuable contribution to Leicester’s campaign.

The winger has scored five goals from 12 starts in all competitions and has added much-needed depth to a Foxes squad short of options this term.

Brendan Rodgers admitted that he has been ‘delighted’ with Lookman’s performances this season and said the star is a player who ‘has everything’, with Leicester perhaps the perfect destination for the winger to find a home after a nomadic early existence.

Verdict: Hit

Billy Gilmour

Billy Gilmour is the third Chelsea player to feature in this list, part of a huge 21 players the European champions have out on loan across world football at present.

Gilmour has been tipped to become a crucial figure for club and country since his first appearances in Chelsea colours, the midfielder possessing a maturity that defies his relative inexperience.

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The 20-year-old joined Norwich on a season-long loan deal in search of more regular minutes last summer, in what has proven a challenging season for the Canaries who find themselves in the Premier League’s bottom three.

Gilmour found himself out of favour under Daniel Farke, before returning to prominence after the German was replaced with Dean Smith.

He did, however, find himself a target for criticism and chants from sections of the Norwich supports during the defeat to Crystal Palace last month and it is perhaps too soon to tell whether Gilmour’s baptism of fire at Carrow Road has proven beneficial to his own development.

Verdict: Miss

Read – The players with the most free-kick goals in Premier League history

Read Also – Golazoooo: Celebrating every goal to win the prestigious Puskas Award

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