Every so often, a debate erupts on this site (and others) about the value of taking players on loan. The negatives are: loaned players crowd out our younger talent, and are dangerous. (I recently saw a scenario where Lukaku, going back to Chelsea next season, sabotages our last few games to ensure they get to the Champions League and we don’t.)

I agree that, as a tactic, taking players on loan can be a negative. But looking at our situation, and what Roberto is up to, I think as a strategy it can be brilliant.

Almost his first comment on coming to the club was "We will get into the Champions League". I’m sure at that time he had taken on board the horrible financial condition of the club, and also saw how close the group of players he was inheriting was to finishing in the top 4. He also knew, as I’ve seen estimated, that the value of reaching the Champions League is between 20-50 million.

So getting to the CL wasn’t only a case of the pride of getting there it could be used to improve the financial base of the club. Understanding this, the strategy is clear: take in Barry, Lukaku, Deulofeu (for what we suppose is a reasonable cost), get to top 4, and use the money that comes with CL to buy some really good players over next summer.

Using a Champions League spot to start to overcome the financial constraints of the club is a very positive strategy. Look for more loans in January, and welcome them.

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Reader Comments (23)

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Ross Edwards
1 Posted 28/12/2013 at 17:23:00
If we finish 4th, we might be able to get Deulofeu and Lukaku permanently. Loans are the only way we can go, and Roberto is doing a stellar job, we can get Barry permanently in the summer when his City deal runs out, but we need top 4 to get Del and Rom.
Mike Gaynes
2 Posted 28/12/2013 at 17:32:58
Phil, good post. I speculated on this possibility last week, and wondered whether using loan players could be a viable strategy to build a winner, not just now but in the future (since we will never have the wallets of the big guys). I don't know whether anybody has tried it before, but if that's what Roberto has in mind, it's certainly some original thinking. He certainly has the relationships to continue doing this if he so chooses.
Peter Anthony
3 Posted 28/12/2013 at 19:16:55
Are we near the ceiling of permitted loans already though? I hope not, but don't know the ins and outs of the loan system (see what I did there...)
Brian Harrison
4 Posted 28/12/2013 at 19:27:04
I think I heard someone say that you are allowed to have up to 4 loan players from British leagues but their is not a limit on foreign loans. That is why last season Watford used 7/8 players from Italy and as far as I know this loophole has not yet been closed.
Gerry Quinn
5 Posted 28/12/2013 at 19:46:10
Roberto Martinez...don't you just feel warm and fuzzy listening to him. Has there ever been a bad day in his life?
"January is an important time not for major change but to try and highlight one or two new faces who could bring something different to the squad and who can help the players we have already at the Club. It is a period like now that helps give a clear idea of what could help us in January.

"It is not a time to weaken the side it's the opposite. It is a time to give the squad an extra boost. And that is what we are going to do. The work is always done in the previous months, identifying players. We are happy and clear in what we want to do.

"You look at the amount of games we have in this period and I do feel it is a little bit unfair. It is putting the players into a position where I don't think they can perform at the same level physically and so the quality of the product is not going to be the same.

"It is the fans who suffer because they expect a certain level of quality and stylish football. But it is what it is and we have to adapt. In football. you get nothing from moaning. You just have to get on with it and use the situation to stretch the squad and test and use other players who have been working well to see how far we can go.

"It is up to the authorities to look into the amount of games we have at this time of year and to decide if that is productive for the product of the Barclays Premier League in general."

Harold Matthews
6 Posted 28/12/2013 at 19:56:35
Martinez stressed the importance of loan signings some time ago. Like other managers in the same boat, he will use them to help keep pace with the money clubs.
Dan Brierley
7 Posted 28/12/2013 at 20:04:56
It's a gamble, if they propel us into the CL places and we get through our qualifier then the guy is a genius. If we don't get there, we have burned 6-10 million in wages and loan fees that could have been gambled on buying three decent young players that had potential to become our own top players, or turn out to be flash in the pans.

It all depends whether or not Martinez is here for the long term or not, and wants to build from youth. Up to now, he seems more focused on 'ready made' players like McCarthy, Alcatraz and Kone. But perhaps he saw this as immediate needs, and will launch his long term plans next year. It's hard to understand his vision at the moment, he will need a few years in place before his plans become more obvious.

Barry Rathbone
8 Posted 28/12/2013 at 20:18:32
It's very simple: the loan system is our only option. We might as well embrace it and make it work rather than delude ourselves about transfers.

No idea why people can't get hold of this.

Peter Laing
9 Posted 28/12/2013 at 20:43:44
Centre forward desperately needed : answers on a postcard
Mark Frere
10 Posted 28/12/2013 at 20:46:42
What other choice do we have? We sell players to buy players and loan players to get that extra bit of quality into our squad. The riches that the CL would bring, will give Martinez more spending power in the transfer market. But if we finish 4th, it doesn't guarantee that we will be in the CL - we will have to play a qualifying match right at the end of August. We will not know if we've got all this extra money to spend until right at the end of the football transfer window. RM will find it very hard to sign players in such a short space of time.

If we finish 3rd, then that's a different story.

Si Cooper
11 Posted 28/12/2013 at 20:59:55
It is apparently a total of 4 players from other Premier League clubs, but only 2 at a time.

So, unless we make Gareth Barry a permanent transfer next month, there will be no more loans this season from EPL teams and we are reliant on what we can attract from abroad.

Tony Draper
12 Posted 28/12/2013 at 21:03:53
Gerry @613
Great quotes and really well selected
For me Roberto has a powerful positive philosophy

Focus on achieving

And TBH, I'm IN for the journey. He hasn't even been our Boss a HALF season yet and already he's "done the bizz", he put the F = FOOTBALL back in EFC.

Loans in, purchases, loans out? Who cares? We have young players out gaining valuable experience don't we? Players these days are as loyal as the next payday and like a mate described my ex "a wheelbarrow: awkward, difficult to ever get to go where you want, very easily upset".

IF we were to win some silver, TBH I really would NOT care if we had loanees in the side/squad.

Would "prostitute money" from some criminal sugar daddy make our squad more legitimate because we "owned" their bottom line contract?

Or

Would the plain simple fact that the players pulled on The Royal Blue Jersey when we achieved our success be sufficient?

For me, whatever we achieve whilst Roberto is Everton's manager (ours, NOT on loan BTW) would make any success belong to Everton and no-one else.

Mike Gaynes
13 Posted 29/12/2013 at 04:31:08
Mark, I was not aware that finishing fourth does not assure us of CL football.

But it does assure us of the Europa League, correct? As does 5th?

And the key question... what's the difference in the money payoff between the CL and EL?

Derek Thomas
14 Posted 29/12/2013 at 05:18:38
Mike # 719 I seem to remember that when spurs bolton fulham or some one got to the final of the UEFA they netted 1.5 mill and had to play 17 games. I think you can add a nought to the figure for CL more if you get to the knock out stages.

IMO while being good for night games at Goodison and piss ups around Europe unless you get to the final AND win. It is a dogs breakfast of a competition.

Derek Thomas
15 Posted 29/12/2013 at 05:26:58
Loaning our way to the CL seems a better way than the Leeds method of monetary shit or bust.
Matt Traynor
16 Posted 29/12/2013 at 05:27:59
Mike #719, recent bitter experience for Everton shows that 4th does not equal the CL group stages, but the banana skin of a qualifier, that thanks to UEFA not wanting 5 English teams in the competition, meant warm balls, a tie against an eventual semi-finalist, and a dodgy ref brought out of retirement for that one game! Bitter, moi?

Derek #722, the Europa League isn't worth the money generated for the number of games played. I know UEFA are looking at this with their packaging of TV money rights with the CL, but until they move the prize pot money around, it won't change.

The fact is with lots of potential trips to the back of beyond, it actually costs clubs more to take part in than they recieve, especially during the group stages. As you allude to, when Fulham (I think) got to the final they played 19 games in the process - I remember that number as it was exactly half of the Premier League fixtures, and boy did their league and domestic cup form suffer.

The money on offer for CL is ridiculous. As well as prize money, TV money is split according to a formula which gives you a greater share if you are from a territory that generates more revenue - like the English market. When Utd lost to Barcelona a few years ago, even though Barca got the greater prize money, Man U got more overall - and that was more than they recieved for winning the Prem that season too.

A few years back when Tottenham qualified (and weren't screwed over by rules and actually competed in the tournament!) they managed to secure a separate shirt sponsor just for European games for an extra £10m. That's why it's CL or bust, literally, for a lot of clubs.

Mike Gaynes
17 Posted 29/12/2013 at 05:42:41
Mark/Derek/Matt, I went straight to the "horse's mouth" as we Yanks would say.... Premierleague.com.

And it says:

"The top four teams in the Barclays Premier League qualify for the UEFA Champions League."

However:

"English winners of the UEFA Champions League finishing outside the top four places (but who qualify for the UEFA Europa League through their domestic Barclays Premier League position) go forward as Winners to the group stage along with domestic champions, runners-up and third place. No extra domestic place can be gained by winning the UEFA Champions League, therefore the team finishing fourth drops to the UEFA Europa League. English winners of the UEFA Champions League who do not qualify through their domestic position go forward as Winners to the group stage, with the team finishing fourth dropping to the UEFA Europa League. In this case, the national association of the title-holder is entitled to one additional place in the UEFA Europa League."

So as I read this, 4th means Champions League... UNLESS this year's CL champion is an English team finishing outside the top four. As things stand now, that means ManU.

But also as I read this, the insidious "qualifier" that screwed us last time appears to be extinct.

Matt Traynor
18 Posted 29/12/2013 at 06:08:23
Mike #726, it's more complex than that.
Basically it's called a play off round. (The previous rounds are called qualifying rounds).

The top 3 Associations have 4 entries (England, Germany, Spain).
For these 3 Associations, the Champions, Runners Up and 3rd Place team automatically qualify for the Group stages.

The 3 fourth placed team form part of the 10 "non-champion" teams (5 of whom qualify from the previous round) who face off against 10 champion teams from minor leagues (who have qualified from the previous round).

It hasn't changed, there's still a "qualifier" albeit called play off for the 4th placed team. In the event that the 4th placed team are the CL title holder, they will replace the 3rd placed team in the Group as automatic qualifier, and the 3rd placed team goes into the play off.

Italy, Portugal and France only get 3 qualifiers, and are lobbying for the English, Germans and Spanish to fall into line. As long as the TV deals remain high (or until the others catch up) the status quo will prevail.

That's the current situation as best I can explain it.

Mike Gaynes
19 Posted 29/12/2013 at 06:26:18
Outstanding knowledge, Matt! Many thanks.

I always learn something here on the late-night shift.

Colin Glassar
20 Posted 29/12/2013 at 07:51:04
Delafeu will be going back to Barca (according to Mundo Deportivo) in the summer as will Lukaku to Chelsea. Barry might, and I say might, be our only loanee player willing to stay. Whilst this policy might bring short term gains its not something we can use to build for the future.
Mark Taylor
21 Posted 29/12/2013 at 11:19:00
Yes we could so this but the flaw in the plan is that you are taking players other clubs don't want and it would be unlikely that we will be able to repeat the feat of acquiring such high quality talent as Barry, Lukaku and Delboy. When you look at loan players in the past, they have tended to be 'fillers' like Hitz or Straq, rather than players who could get us CL.

Are there some high quality 'bad boy' Riquelme types lurking at top European clubs seeking to resurrect their stalled career? Or will we have to make do with Clint Dempsey?

Sam Higgins
22 Posted 02/01/2014 at 11:56:20
Of course if we finish 3rd in the league we wont need to worry about the ramifications of 4th!!
Drew O'Neall
23 Posted 02/01/2014 at 12:12:57
To expand on the point, the danger with employing loanees all over the place in an attempt to finish fourth is those players will have returned to their parent clubs by the time the qualifier/play off game comes around and you are too weakened to win it and qualify for the CL proper.

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