One rule as a football fan is to never fall in love with loanees. But supporters of some Championship clubs have succumbed to that familiar trap this season.
Charlie Cresswell (Millwall, loan from Leeds United)
Considering how poorly Leeds have defended at times this season, they could have done a lot worse than retain Cresswell, who has been impressive for play-off chasing Millwall.
The 20-year-old has had spells on the sidelines at times this season, which is fair given his age. But he has slotted in perfectly alongside Jake Cooper when given the chance and he’s been part of one of the Championship’s stingiest defences.
Regardless of whether Leeds stay up or go down, you have to feel that Cresswell will have a major part to play in their future. So Millwall will have to enjoy him before he returns up north.
Amad Diallo (Sunderland, loan from Manchester United)
Man Utd’s decision to pay £37m to sign a teenager with only four Serie A appearances could have easily gone awry.
The excitement around Diallo waned somewhat last term following his pretty ineffective spell on loan at Rangers. But at Sunderland, he has been afforded a platform to display exactly what he is capable of.
The 20-year-old has produced several special moments this term and has been involved in 11 goals in 31 outings for the Black Cats. A loan move to a low-end Premier League club or a top-division European side is surely the next step for Diallo as he prepares to realise his potential at Man Utd.
Callum Doyle (Coventry City, loan from Manchester City)
The Premier League champions are spoilt for choice when it comes to promising English talent and Doyle is among the best of them. A stellar spell at Sunderland in 2021/22 has been followed by a seamless step up into the Championship with Coventry.
The 19-year-old has been a vital cog as part of Mark Robins’ preferred 3-5-2 set-up. He looks to have a huge future in the game as a ball-playing centre-back.
The England U20 international will likely head out on loan again next term, though you feel Coventry will need to replace him. Doyle is proving himself good enough to join a Championship promotion-chaser or a bottom-half Premier League side.
Cody Drameh (Luton Town, loan from Leeds United)
Like Cresswell, Drameh is a player who should already be getting more opportunities to play for Leeds. The right-back was about as good a replacement for James Bree as Luton could have wished for in January.
Drameh has proven himself to be one of the best players in his position when playing at Championship level. If Leeds do not find space for him soon he will look to brighter horizons elsewhere; Newcastle United are already apparently tracking him.
Tariqe Fosu (Rotherham United, loan from Brentford)
The ex-Stoke City loanee was among the players who were brought in by Matt Taylor during the January transfer window. Rotherham worked around their limited budget to pull off a couple of great signings and boost their survival hopes.
Fosu has shown that he is a quality operator at this level when he’s at full tilt and his creativity in attacking areas has been invaluable for the Millers in recent weeks.
The winger is out of contract in the summer and will most likely remain in the Championship. It would be a statement of intent if Rotherham are able to keep him long-term, but they are surely expecting to be priced out of a deal by their league rivals.
Taylor Harwood-Bellis (Burnley, loan from Manchester City)
Vincent Kompany made the most of his links to Man City last summer as the young centre-back was brought in on loan.
Harwood-Bellis has already established himself at this level during his time at Blackburn Rovers and Stoke. Alongside Sheffield United’s Anel Ahmedhodzic, he was one of the league’s best defenders at the start of this season.
The Burnley loanee has been out of action for a couple of months with a serious foot injury but onlookers have seen enough of him to see why he is billed as a future mainstay at international level for England.
Unlike the previous players on this list, the Clarets have a decent chance of retaining Harwood-Bellis for another season, but it will not be long before Pep Guardiola wants to use him himself.
Ian Maatsen (Burnley, loan from Chelsea)
The Dutchman is among what feels like hundreds of young players sent out on loan by Chelsea. He has been gradually building his reputation and well and truly announced himself as a top talent this term.
Ten goal involvements is a great tally for the left-back who could have a say in the rebuild at Stamford Bridge under Graham Potter in the coming years.
Like Harwood-Bellis, Burnley’s love affair with Maatsen may carry over into a second season as Kompany’s team return to the Premier League. But just as the Man City legend is set to jump ship eventually, so will Burnley’s two loan defenders when opportunities arise at their respective Big Six teams.
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James McAtee (Sheffield United, loan from Manchester City)
While Burnley used the funds brought about through player sales to rebuild their squad, promotion rivals Sheff Utd have largely focused on the loan market this season.
Man City duo McAtee and Tommy Doyle have both been excellent additions in that sense. The two future stars have been valuable options for Paul Heckingbottom in the middle of the park.
I ended up giving the edge to the younger of the two midfielders here, but that does not take away from the talents of Doyle as both starlets are on track to enjoy special careers. McAtee’s goal in the win over Sunderland was one of the moments of the season for the Blades, who are managing to just about hold off a resurgent Middlesbrough.
Hannibal Mejbri (Birmingham City, loan from Manchester United)
Fondly thought of by Gary Neville after he kicked lumps out of Liverpool last season, the hot-headed midfielder has been one of the shining lights in what’s otherwise been another worrying campaign for Birmingham.
Mejbri has some maturing to do but his talent has been there to see this campaign. A switch to a top-tier Championship side should be next for the 20-year-old, who will be eyeing up a place in Erik ten Hag’s team down the line.
Charlie Patino (Blackpool, loan from Arsenal)
Everyone at Arsenal has significant plans for Patino, who is said to be capable of going down as one of the club’s best-ever academy players.
This is a lot of pressure to place on a player so young (which p*ssed off Danny Mills of all people), but on early evidence, these lofty expectations appear to be justified.
As proven by their league position, Blackpool have been one of the worst teams in the Championship this season but Patino has stuck out like a sore thumb.
The Seasiders need to cherish the 19-year-old while they can because there’s no way he’ll be with them next season. But at least they can reflect fondly on the times he represented their club when is shining for Arsenal.