Loan signings are a great way for players to gain some experience and polish their skills, and for clubs to fix their squads without having to make a purchase. Now that the season has come to an end, we look back at the best loan signings that happened in the 20/21 Premier League season.
1. Jesse Lingard
Struggling to break into Manchester United’s starting XI, Jesse Lingard joined West Ham United in the January transfer window. The 28-year-old, who had barely made any contribution to United’s squad, played a pivotal role in West Ham’s unexpected run for a Champions League spot. Where in the last two seasons Lingard had scored only 5 goals in 49 league appearances, at West Ham he managed to put the ball in the back of the net 9 times and assisted 4 goals in only 16 appearances. Scoring a brace in his West Ham debut and being a major attacking threat, Jesse was awarded Player of the Month for April. Whether Jesse gets to stay at West Ham United or not is unclear, but it seems to be the best move going forward for the Hammers, Manchester United and the 28-year-old midfielder.
2. Joachim Andersen
The Danish defender moved to Fulham on a season-long loan from Lyon during the 2020 summer transfer window. In the 29 games he played for the Cottagers, Andersen helped the team keep 9 clean sheets while scoring and assisting one goal each. The 25-year-old was also given the captain’s armband for his performances but despite his impressive display, Fulham couldn’t keep up in the relegation battle and were sent back to the Championship. That said, the Premier League might see him again next season, with clubs like Tottenham and Arsenal both interested in signing the Danish star.
3. Joseph Willock
Joseph Willock is another youngster that comes to mind when speaking of the best loan transfers this season. The 21-year-old joined Steve Bruce’s Newcastle United from Arsenal in the January transfer window. During the 14 games he played for the Magpies, Willock scored 8 goals. The youngster proved to be a great loan signing for Newcastle United. They won five, drew two and lost only one game (3-4 loss against Manchester City) in which Willock scored. A promising young attacker, he is now rumoured to join the Magpies permanently, though on the other hand Arteta could really use the midfielder in a side that has scored only 55 goals (lowest amongst the top 8 teams) this season.
4. Ozan Kabak
The 20/21 season was no less than a nightmare for Liverpool. Since the moment Liverpool lost their main defender Virgil Van Dijk to an ACL injury, cracks in their defence started popping up. With constant injuries to their centre-backs, Jürgen Klopp was forced to get some new signings in order to save their season. Liverpool played a total of 20 different centre-back pairs throughout the season, many of which contained the Schalke loanee. Although Kabak did not completely transform Liverpool’s defence, he sure made a significant difference in a team that at one point had no hope of attaining a European spot. In 9 appearances for Liverpool, Kabak helped them win 4 games and draw 2 while helping them keep 2 clean sheets as well. Now that Liverpool have signed RB Leipzig’s Ibrahima Konaté, the Turkish defender’s time at Liverpool seems to have come to an end. He is on his way back to the relegated Schalke side, but if reports are to be believed Leicester City are interested in pairing the 21-year-old with his Turkish teammate Çağlar Söyüncü.
5. Craig Dawson
Dawson joined the Hammers in October 2020 from previous season’s relegated Watford but did not make his West Ham debut until the 29th of December at Saint Mary’s Stadium against Southampton. Of the 22 times he played for the club, West Ham won 13, drew 4 and lost only 5 games. Dawson helped the team keep 7 clean sheets while also scoring 3 goals on the other side of the pitch. His performances on the pitch were so impressive that West Ham United offered him a two-year permanent deal after only 15 games with the club.
6. Gareth Bale
This is perhaps the most debatable entry on the list, but keeping his astronomical wages aside, Gareth Bale did have a pretty decent season with Tottenham. He made a return to his former club in the summer of 2020 on a season-long loan from Real Madrid. The four-time Champions League winner played a total of 20 Premier League games for Spurs and scored 11 goals. That might not sound like a good statistic for a £300,000-a-week player, but he managed to lead the goals/90’ charts for the club; Bale scored 1.07 goals per 90’, which is higher than both Harry Kane (0.67) and Heung-Min Son (0.49). Whether he will stay with the club or not is not yet decided. With Zidane’s departure and Carlo Ancelotti’s return to Real Madrid, it’s more than likely that Gareth Bale will be back with the Los Blancos next season.
Jack Harrison was loaned out to Leeds United by Manchester City in 2018. The attacking midfielder has been a crucial part of the Bielsa project and helped his team return to the topflight last year. The 20/21 season was the 24-year-old’s third loan spell at Leeds. In a 38-game Premier League season, Harrison made 36 appearances for Leeds United and scored 8 goals and made 8 assists. Leeds United finished 9th in the Premier League table, only 6 points shy of a Europa League spot. Having established himself as an important piece in Bielsa’s side, Jack Harrison is now set to leave Manchester City this summer permanently.