Decision time: One loanee per club causing a dilemma…

Ian Watson
Lingard Saliba Kean Premier League loanees

With the season approaching business time, it’s decision time for clubs over the players they have allowed to leave temporarily. Keep, sell, release or loan again…


Arsenal – William Saliba
Most of the players dispatched on loan by the Gunners this season need to take the hint. Lucas Torriera and Matteo Guendouzi have their agents looking for new clubs while Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles aren’t proving Mikel Arteta wrong for not keeping them around. Saliba is a curious case. The Gunners boss clearly didn’t fancy the young French defender, but Saliba has settled on loan at Nice and recently made himself just one of three outfield players to have played more than 900 minutes across the top five leagues in Europe not to have been dribbled past by an opponent. If Arteta stands by his initial assessment – one too hastily made, according to Saliba – then the Gunners may as well seek to claw back as much of their £27million investment in such a ‘big project’.


Aston Villa – Conor Hourihane
Dean Smith’s decision to allow the Republic of Ireland midfielder join Swansea on loan for the second half of the season was apparently met with some resistance among the hierarchy at Villa Park. The logic was sound. Smith had Jack Grealish, Ross Barkley and new arrival Morgan Sansom to call upon. But Grealish has been injured; Barkley’s from has tailed off; while Sansom is still settling in. With Hourihane approaching the final year of his contract, decision time is looming.


Brighton – Jayson Molumby
The Republic of Ireland international is coming towards the end of a second spell on loan in the Championship, with his current half-season stint at Preston preceded by a year at Millwall. Molumby has impressed without setting Deepdale alight but Brighton have plenty of options in central midfield. Even if the Seagulls feel the 21-year-old could step up to the Premier League, where he made his debut as a sub at Aston Villa in November, opportunities to do so at the AmEx could be scarce. That being true, with two years left on his contract, it could be time to sell up and let Molumby try his hand elsewhere.


Burnley – Lukas Jensen
With Ben Gibson being Burnley’s only senior player out on loan and Sean Dyche delighted to see the back of the £15million defender, it gives the Clarets few dilemmas for the summer. Jensen’s progress has to be considered, though. The 21-year-old Danish keeper was sent to Bolton in January but he is yet to make his Trotters debut in League Two, with veteran Matt Gilks preferred instead. Jensen was back at Burnley this month to play for the Under-23s just to keep his eye in. The keeper is out of contract this summer but Burnley have the option to extend for another year.

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Chelsea – Ross Barkley
Among the half a million players Chelsea have farmed out this season, the biggest decision perhaps surrounds Barkley’s future. Ruben Loftus-Cheek will presumably return to have a shot at impressing Thomas Tuchel, but Barkley may feel his prospects are better away from Stamford Bridge. The midfielder, with two years left on his Chelsea deal, was hugely impressive on loan at Aston Villa before injuries hampered his momentum. Dean Smith left Barkley on the bench for the last four games before the international break, even in Jack Grealish’s absence and the former Everton star needs a strong finish to the season to provide himself with options next season and a market for Chelsea to sell in.


Crystal Palace – Sam Woods
The centre-back was on the bench for Palace on the opening day of the season but January brought a loan move to Plymouth which was seen as something of a make-or-break opportunity However, for Argyle the 22-year-old has made only one start which saw him sent off late on. Woods is out of contract this summer and his fortunes at Home Park look set to make Palace’s decision for them.


Everton – Moise Kean
The Italy striker couldn’t get in Everton’s side but he has had fewer problems playing for PSG. Kean has scored 17 goals in 33 games and Mauricio Pochettino fancies the forward on a permanent deal. But PSG won’t pay Everton’s demand for £43million. The Toffees must either lower the fee – they paid Juventus £27.5million in 2019 – or bring him back to Goodison and give him an opportunity.


Fulham – Steven Sessegnon 
A hamstring injury kept the 20-year-old on the sidelines for much of his loan spell with Bristol City prior to regaining fitness last month. Sessegnon’s return coincided with a shortage at left-back, so Sessegnon moved from his usual role on the right and his form saw him called up by Aidy Boothroyd for England Under-21s. His longer term future remains unclear, with Sessegnon entering the final year of his contract. If Fulham don’t see a role for him next season, whichever division they are playing in, then it makes sense to sell.

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Leeds – Robbie Gotts
The youngster’s contract status gives Leeds a decision to make. Gotts is thriving on loan at Salford after struggling to force his way into Lincoln’s XI through the first half of the season. With Salford, the 21-year-old is playing in a more advanced midfield role, scoring twice and offering an assist. Will it be enough to sell Marcelo Bielsa on keeping him around next season? The Leeds boss struggled to give him a first-team debut, keeping him on the bench for 35 games before finally giving him a game. With Gotts approaching the final year of his contract, Leeds have to think long-term over whether he can make the breakthrough in the Premier League.


Leicester – Rachid Ghezzal 
With Matty James’ contract finally winding down and Filip Benkovic struggling to get a game anywhere Leicester send him, the Foxes’ biggest decision surrounds Ghezzal, the question being: how much would they accept to sell the winger currently on loan at Besiktas? He has a year left on his contract and the Turkish side seem to be reluctant Leicester’s initial demand for between £6million and £7million.

Liverpool – Harry Wilson
The Wales international is performing well in his latest loan spell, offering Cardiff four goals and 10 assists. His goal for Wales in their defeat at Belgium keeps him in Jurgen Klopp’s thinking but it seems doubtful that Wilson will get a chance to establish himself in Liverpool’s midfield and if the Reds want to raise funds, then selling the 24-year-old would bring in some cash though not the £20million they wanted last summer.


Manchester City – Jack Harrison
Leeds have the option of signing Harrison for £10million but after his form this season, there should be a scramble for the winger.

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Manchester United – Jesse Lingard
United weren’t expecting to have a decision to make over the England attacker. So this is an unexpected development.

Newcastle – Freddie Woodman
It all depends on which division Newcastle are playing next season. Should they be relegated to the Championship, Martin Dubravka will be one of their most sellable assets, while Karl Darlow is already fuming at his treatment at St James’ Park. So finally there could be a role for Woodman – but a back-up job won’t appeal to the 24-year-old who has spent the season playing in Swansea’s sticks.


Southampton – Mohamed Elyounoussi
“You can be sure that we have a few players in our mind, yes.” said Ralph Hasenhuttl when asked if any of Saints out on loan had furthered their prospects of role at St Mary’s next season. Elyounoussi is likely to be one of them. The 24-year-old has 14 goals and six assists for Celtic this season. If Hasenhuttl doesn’t want him, then Celtic would likely take the Norwegian at the right price.


Sheffield United – Michael Verrips
Verrips case is a strange one. United couldn’t involve the keeper upon signing him in 2019 because of a legal wrangle with his former club Mechelen. He was promised all the domestic cup games while serving as Dean Henderson’s back up but all he saw was 41 minutes of action in an FA Cup defeat to Fylde. This season, he was allowed to join FC Emmen on loan, where he was sure to be busier with the Dutch club at the foot of the Eredivisie. But Verrips has played a role in helping them to reignite their survival hopes. Whether he returns to Bramall Lane may depend upon Aaron Ramsdale’s future upon the Blades’ relegation.


Tottenham – Ryan Sessegnon 
Selling Sessegnon seems unlikely – Jose Mourinho must decide whether he intends to use the left-sider next season, or allow him to flourish once more on loan. Because the former Fulham youngster has enjoyed a fruitful season at Hoffenheim. But Sergio Reguillon’s form complicates Sessegnon’s situation further still.


West Brom – Alex Palmer
The Baggies sent Charlie Austin and Sam Field to QPR and neither are likely to return to The Hawthorns. Cedric Kipre is having a ‘mare at Charleroi while Rakeem Harper has been inconsistent at Lincoln. Goalkeeper Palmer is the loanee giving West Brom most to think about. The 24-year-old has had a very solid season as Lincoln’s No.1 during the Imps’ promotion push in League One. Palmer has two years left on his contract and should Sam Johnstone be off in the summer, there could be a role for him.


West Ham – Felipe Anderson
It was hoped that Anderson would go to Porto and put himself in the shop window. Instead, the Brazilian has managed just one start all season and hasn’t even made the bench for the last four games. It was reported that the Hammers would accept half of the £34million they paid for Anderson but they won’t find any takers this summer at that price. With only a year remaining on his contract, do they take whatever they can get, or risk losing their one-time record signing as a free agent?


Wolves – Rafa Mir 
The Spaniard struggled to make an impact after joining Wolves and he toiled on loan at Forest. But Mir is coming to the end of a successful 18-month loan with Huesca, for whom he has scored eight La Liga goals this season. Huesca would love to keep the 23-year-old but their option to buy at £10million probably prices them out of the market. With a year to go on his Wolves deal, does Nuno give him another crack, or sell to the highest bidder?