Revealed: The best destinations for loan stars in 2021-22
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TransferRoom Blog

Best Practice
Revealed: The best destinations for loan stars in 2021-22
by Jack Hyom

English and Scottish clubs dominated TransferRoom's loan rating system in 2021-22, which shows the top clubs for giving game time to loanees and sending their players out on temporary deals.

Ross County have sought to expose exceptional talent to a broader market and the SPL is proving itself as a terrific alternative to standard loans within the UK. Enhancing the talent in the league enhances the standard of the league itself too.
Steven Ferguson
CEO, Ross County

Five star performers

 

As clubs plan for the new season, Loan Managers will be busy plotting the development path of their young talents.

 

The desire to give minutes under the pressure of a first-team environment needs to be matched with pitching players at the right level where they can sufficiently develop and get enough game time.

 

TransferRoom has crunched the data across all world leagues from the 2021-22 season to see which clubs were the best at giving loanees the most playing time and which clubs used the loan system most effectively to develop their own players. In both categories, it was English and Scottish clubs that excelled.

 

Doncaster Rovers are top of our loan rating system for all players, gaining the maximum score of five in our TransferRoom loan rating system, used to help clubs navigate the loan market, accessible through the Virtual Loan Assistant tool on our platform.

 

Their five loanees averaged 1678 minutes played and 53.6% of available playing time, despite the club finishing 22nd in League One.


Cheltenham Town, who finished seven places above Doncaster, ranked second in the rating system, enjoying another successful campaign in the loan market. Callum Wright, from Leicester City (pictured above), was among their stars, with nine goals and five assists from 34 appearances in midfield.

 

Tom Ware, First Team Head of Recruitment Analysis at Cheltenham, tells TransferRoom about the club’s approach in the loan market: "We have used the loan market extensively over the last three seasons, which has been beneficial in signing players we wouldn't have been able to attract permanently at the time.

 

“It has also been mutually beneficial to the parent clubs, with a number of players having transitioned to higher levels, helping us in gaining a reputation as a development environment.

 

"We are also looking to capitalise on our reputation for developing players to focus on permanent Under-23 signings to emulate the success of our previous loan players.”

 

Best clubs for loaning in players (All ages)
Rank Club Avg mins played Avg playing time  Loan system rating
1 Doncaster Rovers 1678 53.62% 5
2 Cheltenham Town 1660 45.86% 5
3 Swindon Town 1476 57.95% 5
4 Yeovil Town 1171 62.65% 5
5 Ross County 1099 41.84% 5
6 Nottingham Forest 2618 61.60% 4.5
7 Rochdale 2324 45.83% 4.5
8 Milton Keynes Dons 1557 68.51% 4.5
9 Calcio Catania 1364 55.60% 4.5
10 Scunthorpe United 1359 51.58% 4.5

 

Ross County, the highest non-English side, gained a five-star rating as their six temporary additions played a key role as they finished sixth in the Scottish Premiership.

 

They played more than 40% of available minutes on average and had a big impact on their season.

 

Joseph Hungbo, who Ross County moved for after being pitched by parent club Watford on TransferRoom, won the club’s Young Player of the Season award, as well as the Goal of the Season for both County and the league, while

 

Southampton’s Jake Vokins was among the other loanees to become key starters and was joined by his Saints’ team-mate Kayne Ramsey for the second half of the season.

 

Steven Ferguson, Ross County’s CEO, told TransferRoom: "The loan market is important to us, as primarily it gives us access to quality players who at times are not available to us on a permanent basis.

 

“The loan market serves as a top up to your squad, allows you to temporarily compliment your squad with something that is different or exceptional.

 

Furthermore, having quality loans is only possible with trust from the parent clubs, and we have forged links with clubs who can trust us to develop their players, exposing them to competitive first team football but also nurturing their talent.

 

“Ross County have sought to expose exceptional talent to a broader market and the SPL is proving itself as a terrific alternative to standard loans within the UK. Enhancing the talent in the league enhances the standard of the league itself too."

 

Their final position is all the more remarkable, considering they are bottom in Scotland’s top flight for squad value, with an Expected Transfer Value (xTV) of for the whole squad of €2.6m. Champions Celtic have a squad xTV of €115.8m in comparison.

 

Best parent clubs for loan stars

 

The club to most-effectively loan their players out in 2021-22 were Leicester, with the eight players who left on loan averaging 51.6% of minutes played and 2025 minutes each in total. One of the best clubs for temporary signings benefitted, with midfielder Wright starring for Cheltenham.

 

Elsewhere, Dennis Praet surpassed 20 Serie A appearances for Torino, while Kasey McAteer and Josh Felix-Eppiah both played key roles in promotion pushes for, respectively, Forest Green Rovers and Northampton Town in League Two.

 

Best clubs for loaning out players (All ages)
Rank Club Avg mins played Avg playing time  Loan system rating
1 Leicester City 2025 51.55% 5
2 Aberdeen 1983 57.03% 5
3 Fulham 1751 65.15% 5
4 Watford 1742 44.40% 5
5 Heart of Midlothian 1691 74.16% 5
6 Manchester United 1662 46.94% 5
7 Swansea City 1626 52.95% 5
8 Sheffield United 1336 57.31% 5
9 Luton Town 1329 53.89% 5
10 Liverpool 1222 36.13% 5

 

Scottish top-flight side Aberdeen proved the best at managing the outgoing loans of their U23 players, with seven young talents amassing an average of 1983 minutes played and 57.5% of playing time.

 

Second in that list were Manchester United, the parent club of James Garner, who starred in Nottingham Forest securing a return to the Premier League, and fellow promotion star Ethan Laird, of AFC Bournemouth following a stint with Swansea City.

 

Anthony Martial, at Sevilla, and Brandon Williams, with Norwich City, also played regular roles while they were away. The club averaged nearly 50% of playing time, suggesting plenty of promise for the returning players in 2022-23.

 

Exclusive: The best loan signings of 2021-22

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