Coutinho and Ndombele in Premier League XI of big-name unwanted loanees heading back

Tanguy Ndombele, Philippe Coutinho and Romelu Liukaku.
Tanguy Ndombele, Philippe Coutinho and Romelu Liukaku.

This little bunch of misfits are heading back to the Premier League after loans next season to groans and ‘what the hell do we do with you?’


Goalkeeper: Kepa (Chelsea)
“I hope so. Today is the first day, we’ll see, but hopefully with my performance I can make that happen,” said Kepa on the day he was unveiled as a Real Madrid player last summer and asked whether he wanted a permanent move. Of course he wanted a permanent move; it was Real Madrid.

But by the end of January that seemed like a distant dream as he was very much demoted to the Madrid bench, and the La Liga start he was gifted at the weekend v Real Sociedad was nothing more than a ‘gracias’ for being such a good professional.

Chelsea goalkeepers have suffered in his absence so will he come back to Stamford Bridge and pick up the gloves again? To be fair, he probably has his own…


Right-back: Joao Cancelo (Manchester City)
He was already firmly in the ‘over my dead body’ camp when it came to playing under Pep Guardiola again, even before he accused City of being “ungrateful” and spreading “lies” about his conduct last month.

But his City contract runs until 2027 so City want a fee upwards of £40m for the Portuguese, and that’s money Barcelona do not have for a full-back, even if he has become a key member of their starting XI. They would like another loan but City will clearly push to sell him if there is interest from elsewhere, with Arsenal and various unnamed Saudi Arabian clubs mentioned.


Centre-back: Thilo Kehrer (West Ham)
“Thilo is a brilliant boy who works really hard in training,” said David Moyes in December, before sending the German international defender out on loan to Monaco a month later.

And while West Ham have faltered with Angelo Ogbonna and Kurt Zouma at the centre of their defence, Monaco are heading to the Champions League with Kehrer at the heart of theirs. They have an option to make the deal permanent; whoever replaces Moyes at West Ham might have something to say about that.


Centre-back: Yerson Mosquera (Wolves)
Yes, we struggled for centre-backs.

But Mosquera is a Colombian international who signed for Wolves three years ago for a fee approaching £5m and he has not played a single Premier League game. His only Wolves appearance consisted of nine minutes at the end of a League Cup defeat in 2021. They lost.

He is currently playing in the middle reaches of La Liga with Villarreal. And we are very grateful he exists.


Left-back: Kieran Tierney (Arsenal)
“It’s probably quite rare that it happens when you come back from a loan,” admitted the Scot last month when asked whether he might have a future at Arsenal. He cited William Saliba as an exception to the rule but the young Frenchman was in a very different situation.

Arsenal’s left-backs have struggled in his absence – it’s the one part of the Gunners’ side that really does struggle to function – but Tierney has had a stop-start season with injuries at Real Sociedad, where he has started just 11 games in La Liga.

A cut-price move lower down the Premier League next season probably suits everybody.


Central midfield: Donny Van de Beek (Manchester United)
‘For the love of God Donny, go home. We can’t stand your pain any longer,’ is what we said here.

A return to Ajax would surely suit the Dutchman, who somehow has another year left on his deal at Manchester United after four miserable years and two pretty miserable loans.

Currently at Eintracht Frankfurt, where he has started four Bundesliga games since January, and likely heading back to United for about a week of pre-season before being whisked off elsewhere. Unless the new Manchester United manager thinks he might be the man to finally find the real Donny Van de Beek again.

Central midfield: Tanguy Ndombele (Tottenham)
Currently on track to claim his second league title as a Tottenham player is Ndombele, who is about to add to his Italian championship with the Turkish equivalent. He’s only started four times for Galatasaray in their march to the title so we’re not expecting them to exercise their option to sign him permanently.

So back to Spurs will come £63m record signing Ndombele, to find Ange Postecoglou as keen to keep him as he was last summer. Let’s just say he’s not exactly built for a high-energy style, mate.


Central midfield: Hannibal (Manchester United)
We think it’s safe to say that Manchester United will not be getting the £17m fee and the buy-back option they agreed with Sevilla before they packed the Tunisian off to Spain in January.

After just 28 minutes against Girona, boss Quique Sanchez Flores said: “After being with him, talking to him and having seen his first minutes in Girona, we are going to give him the necessary space to understand where he is, that he is at Sevilla and what it means.”

Four months later, Hannibal has made one La Liga start (he lasted 53 minutes) and Manchester United have yet another player they must try and get off their books this summer.


Right wing: Hakim Ziyech (Chelsea)
The easy inclusion here would have been Jadon Sancho but who wants an easy inclusion when you can be slightly thrown by the fact that Ziyech is not actually at a Saudi Arabian club but at Galatasaray on loan. Unlike Ndombele, he has played some part in their likely Turkish title win, though injuries and the African Nations Cup mean he has only started nine league games.

There was even some talk in January that they were going to send him back to Chelsea because he was ‘ineffective’ but he has claimed two goals and two assists in his last five games. Not enough to earn him a permanent move, but enough to mean he can collect his winner’s medal without Ndombele-level embarrassment.


Left wing: Philippe Coutinho (Aston Villa)
It now seems astonishing that Coutinho played 24 minutes of Villa’s first two Premier League games of the season before succumbing to one of his many injuries, followed by a loan move to the wrong Middle East country. While everybody else was picking up big bucks in Saudi Arabia, Coutinho has been plying his trade in Qatar.

Much to Unai Emery’s presumed chagrin, Coutinho still has two years left on his Villa contract, which the club would quite like to pass on to pretty much any club in the US, Far East or preferably Middle East, where his old pal Steven Gerrard still somehow has a job.


Striker: Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)
Basically just read this: Martinelli, Rashford, Salah and Son among players every Premier League club should sell this summer