Opinion: Looking at loans for Liverpool FC

Liverpool have not been spectacular in the loan market over the years, but it could prove to be a useful tool for Jurgen Klopp, particularly if the likes of Jordon Ibe need regular game time

Opinion: Looking at loans for Liverpool FC
Jordon Ibe could be in need of a loan spell. (Picture: Getty Images)

As with every club, preparing and executing your plans for transfer windows are always separate, and not everything is sorted in perfect fashion. Plus, your team may be short of funds and cannot afford permanent deals.

These are just two of the reasons for why the loan system exists in football, and, alongside everyone else, Liverpool have always involved themselves heavily in the loan market.

Especially for the so-called bigger clubs, often they loan far more players out of their respective squads than they bring in, usually because they have the finances to sign players permanently, making it easier to build a side for the long-term.

In contrast, clubs lower down the divisions, or even in the bottom half of the Premier League, look to fill in gaps in their side with season-long loan deals. These teams can only focus on the season ahead of them and nothing else, in their attempts to avoid relegation or achieve promotion, making loan signings more attractive.

Nevertheless, the Reds have used the loan market to strengthen their squad over the years, albeit scarcely. One of the more successful examples from the past would be Nicolas Anelka, who was only at Anfield for half of the 2001/02 campaign but had a big impact as Liverpool finished second in the Premier League that season.

Liverpool must make wise decisions in loan market

However, Gerard Houllier declined the chance to sign Anelka on a permanent deal from Paris Saint-Germain, preferring El Hadji Diouf, unfortunately, and Anelka went to Manchester City instead.

At the other end of the spectrum, Chelsea’s Victor Moses endured a nightmare season at Anfield, struggling to contribute anything towards Liverpool’s title bid in 2014, while humorously Steven Caulker was brought in for emergency cover at centre-back last season, then ended up spending more time as an extra striker off the bench.

Liverpool’s record of signing players on loan is mixed at best, with other names including Aly Cissokho and Nuri Sahin also failing to make the grade, but the Reds have seen some of their own players return after a loan spell and provide a positive impact on the first-team.

Danny Murphy, who went back to his youth team Crewe Alexandra for a year in 1998, became a key part of Houllier’s successful regime, while a less notable example would be Martin Kelly, who enjoyed a short loan to Huddersfield Town in 2009.

This helped Kelly showcase some of his potential at Anfield and win a place in the squad for the next few years, before the 26-year-old was eventually sold to Crystal Palace. Moreover, Stephen Warnock is another similar illustration to Kelly.

Again though, there have been far more players loaned out from Liverpool because they had no future at the club, with high profile examples including Alberto Aquilani and even Fabio Borini, who did return to Liverpool for a season but was not wanted and barely made an appearance.

This is a feature consistent with many of the top clubs, especially Chelsea.

However, in the 2014/15 season, Jordon Ibe added his name to the likes of Murphy by returning from a productive loan spell with Derby County in January 2015 before immediately impressing for Liverpool, after being named man of the match in the Merseyside Derby a month later.

Touted as a future replacement for Raheem Sterling, Ibe struggled for confidence last season, but still scored four times and showed flashes of his potential brilliance.

It could be that another loan, this time to a Premier League club, would allow the 20-year-old to rediscover his swagger after seeing plenty of expectation placed on his shoulders in the past year, and Ibe’s name should feature prominently on any list surrounding loan deals this summer for Klopp.

Liverpool have a number of potential first-team players returning to the squad for pre-season, but few look likely to remain part of Klopp’s plans.

Danny Ward had been recalled in January to replace Adam Bogdan as the club’s second-choice, having impressed on loan with Aberdeen. Now with the arrival of Loris Karius, Ward may seek another temporary move away or even something more permanent.

Ward’s departure would be disappointing but understandable, as the Welshman has shown to be far more capable than a third-choice goalkeeper in the limited appearances he made with Liverpool as Simon Mignolet’s understudy.

Sheyi Ojo is another who arrived back at the start of 2016, from Wolves, and was a microcosm of Ibe from the year before. He should stay as a back-up for the attacking positions, and gain some valuable experience by having a season training with the first-team.

For young players at any of the top teams, experiencing both regular lower-tier football and life at an elite club are important for success at this level. Ojo has one – now he needs the other, while Ibe needs to start the process again to have any chance of a future at Anfield.

Lazar Markovic was hugely inconsistent in Turkey with Fenerbahce, but given the Reds paid £20m for the 22-year-old two years ago and have very few natural wingers in the squad, Markovic could remain at Anfield as a squad player unless a handsome fee is submitted for the Serbian.

Can returning Reds make a first-team impact next year?

Sadly, Liverpool’s signing of Mario Balotelli has turned into a nightmare and now it has become a case of selling the Italian as quickly as possible, but another loan deal is more likely.

As for some of the others, it has not worked out for Andre Wisdom after spells at West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City, while Luis Alberto is better off staying in Spain, and who knows what will happen with Tiago Ilori.

Finally, Kevin Stewart made some promising appearances in the second half of last season, but again it is hard to see his short-term future lying at Anfield with the number of players ahead of him, plus the arrival of Marko Grujic and possibly another midfielder such as Mahmoud Dahoud.

Stewart is already 22, so he needs to prove he can become a consistent Premier League performer, so, as with Ibe, a loan to a Premier League club is essential, not the Championship or Scotland.

Plenty of talent exists at Liverpool, hence the need for the loan system, but too many struggle to leave any mark at all on their parent club, and the loans are ultimately the beginning of the end for their futures at Anfield.

Yet Klopp does have a couple of promising youngsters who need regular football, but at the highest level, so if their careers can be managed correctly with the appropriate loan moves, the likes of Ibe may yet turn out to be top-class Liverpool players, with the loan system to thank.