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Why Do Soccer Teams Loan Players?

Why Do Soccer Teams Loan Players?

Since its inception in the mid-18th century, soccer has gone on to be the leading sport in terms of viewership and support across the world with a fan base stretching to billions.

There have been so many great players over the years who have put on the uniform and played the beautiful game that we see today.

Think of the legends and greats of the game in different eras from Pele, to Diego Maradona in the 80s and Liberia’s George Wear with that historic win in the Ballon d’Or during the 90s.

Who can forget the Brazilian Ronaldo Nazario who took the world by storm in the early 2000s with a whole host of great players in that period such as Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldinho Gaucho among many more.

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Then, we ushered in the era of modern soccer with the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo towering above the rest for the better part of the last 15 years.

Maybe, we may never see a duo like this go toe-to-toe on the same stage in terms of records, goals, Ballon d’Or wins and overall success again. These are all classic examples of players who have enjoyed tremendous accomplishments in the sport.

Part of what makes soccer great is what happens behind the scenes. There is a lot of player movement and speculation from one club to another every year. The recent transfer window is regarded as one of the very best to ever happen.

We saw a team like Paris Saint-Germain virtually build a super team with a tantalizing first XI that includes Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Messi. This is a team that can easily contest for all the top soccer honors.

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Who can forget the sensational return of Cristiano Ronaldo to Manchester United that also happened in the 2021 summer? This move has certainly made the 2021/2022 season more interesting for soccer fans around the world.

Soccer players majorly move from club to club under two parameters. It could be on a permanent deal or on a loan deal. In both cases, the moves have to happen within the designated transfer windows.

Any move that happens outside the transfer window is allowed either due to special permission given by the respective soccer federations or if a player is a free agent.

For example, FC Barcelona was able to sign Martin Braithwaite as an emergency exception in March 2020 which fell outside the transfer window. This special request was approved by La Liga because of a forward injury crisis that rocked the Catalan club.


When it comes to a permanent deal, the player fully moves to the new club and signs a contract, binding him or her to that club for the duration of that contract.

Some contracts have buy-back clauses designed to favor the player’s previous club in the event they want to retain the services of the player again in the future.

When it comes to loan deals, a player moves to a different club but is still contractually obligated to the parent club. The two clubs come into agreement over which team will pay the bulk of the wages and the duration of the loan spell.

Sometimes, the parent club gives the new club the option to buy the player on a permanent deal at the end of the loan spell. Let us look at why soccer clubs loan players to other clubs.

Why do soccer teams loan players?

Soccer teams move players to other clubs on a temporary basis or loan for various reasons. Some can be out of circumstance such as financial or tactical in the sense that the player will benefit in their career advancement.

1. Having a chance to play more 

In any matchday squad, there are about 18 to 23 players involved. However, there are some players who even fail to make the wider matchday squads on a consistent basis.

Such players are therefore limited in terms of little to no game time at all. Therefore, the parent club decides to send them out on loan to other teams so they can get more playing time which in turn improves the match sharpness before being reintegrated back into the squad at a later time.

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2. To balance books 

Sometimes soccer players can be on huge wages at a club but not get to play matches. This means that the club is losing money in terms of salaries paid to these players without them kicking a ball.

We have seen deals worked out between clubs where such players are offered on loan with both clubs sharing the burden of paying the weekly wages. For example, a 60/40 split between the parent club and the new club where the player will play is a deal that can be made.

3. Deal for other players 

We have seen transfer business where a player is loaned out to another club as part of a deal for another player to move in the opposite direction.

In such a case, maybe the transfer fees could be significantly reduced as a result of a player moving to the other direction on-loan. 

Sometimes, it could be that the club selling may not have enough time to replace the player leaving so they include an option of taking a particular player from the buying club in order to fill that void.

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4. Player development 

Soccer players have a narrow window to develop their skills when they transition from the teenage years into early adulthood. Most of these modern soccer clubs have youth systems.

These youngsters may not be able to cut it yet in the senior team but can go elsewhere to develop their skills with the intention of improving.

So, clubs send them out on loan to get experience on what it takes to be a professional soccer player before returning to the parent club at a later time when they have advanced their skills.

a soccer player is in his training session

5. Coach’s plan 

It is no secret that not all players get a chance to play, especially in the bigger soccer teams in the world. Therefore, some players become surplus to requirements at the club.

The club is faced with the situation whereby a player is on their wage bill yet they do not get to play. The coach on the other hand has also closed the door and blocked any opportunity for this player to represent the team because they are not in their plans. 

In the event that the team is unable to sell the player permanently, they can move him or her on loan to other soccer clubs. This may help in reducing the club’s expenses in terms of wages.

6. Fulfilling a player’s wishes

Sometimes players may refuse to play for a club for one or two reasons. This presents a problem for the club and the coaching staff.

A coach is instructing his soccer team

Maybe even the player may command a huge transfer fee which means that potential suitors may not have the money to buy him or her in that transfer window. 

In this case, the parent club may offer the player to a new club on loan. This deal will be significantly cheaper for the pursuing club. They will pay a smaller loan fee and agree with the parent club on how they will split the player’s wages.

There are other cases where a particular player just wishes to go to another club on loan in order to improve their skills. What the parent club does in turn is to look for the best possible option for the player and by doing so, fulfills their wishes.

Pros for loaning players 

Improved skills- Sometimes the goal for loaning out players is so that they can improve their skills. There may be good returns for the parent club when the player develops a new set of skills and evolves his or her game when they do come back.

Match experience- An ideal situation can be when a player goes out on loan and returns to his parent club with an improved match experience because they got sufficient playing time. 

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Jesse Lingard did this when he was loaned to West Ham United by Manchester United last season. He returned to Old Trafford having rediscovered his scoring touch.

Reduced expenditure- Loaning players means that the parent club may pay just a portion of the wages and not the full amount they would have paid if the player did not go out on loan. 

This saves the club some money for the duration of the loan and they can channel the funds towards other developmental areas within the club.

Cons for loaning players

Injuries to players- There is a risk that injury may occur to the players that have been loaned out. The loan trip will definitely be cut short with the player returning to his or her parent club. 

If the injury sustained is long-term, then a deal to sign the player on a permanent basis, if the club had agreed would fall by the wayside.

Players signing elsewhere- Picture a situation where a player’s contract is about to run out and they have been loaned out to another club.

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If they feel at home and perform at the new club, then they may opt to sign at a different club at the expiry of their current contract. This means that the parent club will lose a good player.

Player regression- Not all loan spells turn out good for the players. The parent club may have sent out a player on loan with good intentions and the hope that they will improve.

However, the players can come back even worse than they were at the parent club when they left either because they struggled to settle in their new environment or a genuine lack of form in the duration of the loan spell.


In the world of soccer, there are a lot of moves that happen involving players in the various transfer windows. Clubs are always looking to strengthen their squads while also moving players that do not fit what they envision for that season and beyond.

Sometimes, financial motivations drive clubs to move players on loan while for others, it is done with the hope that the player will return with better skills having gained more match experience.

Loaning out young players can prove effective for parent clubs especially those that do not get much playing time. The practice of loaning players is set to continue even in the future as soccer teams strive to be the most efficient they can be in their operations.