If you are a young player who is not quite ready for senior football, chances are you’ll get a loan out to a supposedly weaker team to help your development. We look at the best player at each Premier League club aged 23 or younger that has left on a temporary basis for the 2021/22 season…
Arsenal – William Saliba (Marseille)
We begin this list with a player who cost their club £27m, which at this point is looking like a colossal waste of money as Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta does not seem to want anything to do with him.
But Jorge Sampaoli does. The Marseille boss was eager to bring Saliba in on loan and is deploying him as a right-sided centre-back in a back three. He is clearly a very talented player who deserves a chance at the Emirates.
The Gunners do have some good young talents out on loan. Miguel Azeez has joined Portsmouth for the season and if this list focused solely on teenagers, he would be a shoo-in for this particular honour. Matteo Guendouzi is also on loan at Marseille but is unlikely to play another game for Arsenal. And Reiss Nelson joined Feyenoord on deadline day.
Aston Villa – Louie Barry (Ipswich Town)
Yes, the lad that signed for FC Barcelona at the age of 16. In 2019, he became the first English player to join Barcelona’s famous youth academy, La Masia. Having played for West Brom for ten years before his move to the Catalan giants, he returned to England in 2020, signing for Aston Villa.
Barry scored on his senior debut during Villa’s 4-1 defeat to Liverpool in last season’s FA Cup. You may remember that the Villans had to field a team of youngsters following a Covid outbreak at their training ground just days before the tie.
Now 18, the future still remains extremely bright for the striker and he should pick up some crucial first-team minutes at Ipswich this season.
Brentford – Halil Dervisoglu (Galatasaray)
A relatively easy choice, Dervisoglu joined Galatasaray in January 2021 for the second half of last campaign and returned to the Turkish club for this season, signing on Wednesday.
Brentford’s co-Director of Football, Phil Giles, said: “Halil had a good period on loan last season, and when Galatasaray expressed an interest to take him back for this season it seemed like a logical progression for Halil to continue to play and develop.”
He operates mainly as a striker but can play on either wing. The 21-year-old played 68 minutes for the Bees as they beat Forest Green Rovers 3-1 in the Carabao Cup this season.
Dervisoglu is a decent prospect and is a full Turkey international, featuring twice at Euro 2020.
Brighton – Moises Caicedo (Beerschot)
A 19-year-old with ten caps for Ecuador already, Caicedo has been loaned out to Beerschot in the Belgian top flight to continue his development. He has one appearance for the Brighton first team, assisting a goal in their 2-0 Carabao Cup win against Cardiff City this season.
The Seagulls have some superb young players out on loan, including Leo Ostigard and Abdallah Sima, who are both at Stoke City in the Championship.
Caicedo seems to have a great future at the south coast club and his regular game time will only enhance his international reputation as he has an even greater chance of being selected for Ecuador while at Beerschot.
Burnley – Bailey Peacock-Farrell* (Sheffield Wednesday)
Okay, there is an asterisk over this one as Peacock-Farrell is, in fact, 24 years old. He makes the cut because goalkeepers tend to retire at an older age than outfielders, so he could be around for as long as Caicedo despite being five years older. Don’t like that logic? That’s unfortunate.
Burnley’s loan list does not contain too many potential world-beaters; the Lancashire club prefers to keep their young talents at the club to develop them internally.
Peacock-Farrell is a decent shot-stopper, signed from Leeds in August 2019 and will spend the season in Yorkshire with League One outfit Sheffield Wednesday.
He has four clean sheets in his first five matches for Wednesday and should really thrive in England’s third tier.
Chelsea – Billy Gilmour (Norwich City)
For Chelsea, it was between Conor Gallagher and Gilmour, but we have opted for the latter, mainly due to the fact he has played in the Blues’ first team.
Signed from Rangers in 2017, he made his senior debut for the Stamford Bridge club in the Premier League during a 2-2 draw against Sheffield United in 19/20. Gilmour made 11 appearances in total that season, which is a great achievement for a teenager at Chelsea (although they were under a transfer embargo at the time).
His fine performances for the Blues earned him a place in Scotland’s Euro 2020 squad, where he put in a man of the match performance in the Tartan Army’s 0-0 win against England.
Now a regular starter for Norwich this term, he fits the style of play that Daniel Farke likes his teams to play. The 20-year-old said it himself after his move was confirmed.
Billy Gilmour is going to be one of the all time Scottish greats. Fact. 👌🏼🏴
— Jordan Young (@joskyn100) September 1, 2021
Crystal Palace – Sion Spence (Bristol Rovers)
Palace lost numerous players for nothing in the summer – ten to be exact – and only sent out two players on loan. Perhaps their business is yet to be concluded on that front.
Spence and Jacob Montes are the guys who have been loaned out. American midfielder Montes joined in May and has been sent to Waasland-Beveren, who play in Belgium’s second tier. His signing seems to be linked to their new US investor John Textor.
Spence, on the other hand, is a promising midfielder who joined the Selhurst Park club on a free transfer in the summer of 2020. He is a Wales under-21 international and made 17 appearances for Palace U23s last term, scoring seven goals and assisting four. He’s perhaps one to watch…
Everton – Niels Nkounkou (Standard Liege)
Another player to ply their trade in Belgium this season, Nkounkou has made seven appearances for the Everton first team, including one this season in the Carabao Cup, helping the Toffees defeat Huddersfield 2-1 in the second round.
The left-back has represented France at U19 and U18 level and made one appearance for his nation at this summer’s Olympics. The only game he played, they won, while the other two were thumping defeats. Makes you think…
Anyway, at only 20 years old he is very raw but has a lot of potential. He offers plenty going forward but is pretty suspect defensively. If he can improve on that aspect of his game at Standard, the Toffees could have a player on their hands.
Leeds United – Ian Poveda (Blackburn Rovers)
Poveda spent time at Chelsea, Arsenal, Brentford, Barcelona and Manchester City at youth level before joining Leeds in January 2020. He will now gain some first-team experience with Blackburn in the Championship.
He has made 20 senior appearances for Leeds but is yet to score his first goal for the Whites. He already has some Premier League experience under Marcelo Bielsa and provided an assist on his Rovers debut against Middlesbrough.
Leeds are renowned for developing young players and their U23 side have developed rapidly under Mark Jackson. But they do prefer to keep young players at the club to develop with the U23s, and Bielsa appreciates having the young players available to implement his famous ‘murder ball’ training sessions.
📺 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐋𝐨𝐰𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐎𝐧 𝐈𝐚𝐧 𝐏𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐝𝐚!
— Rovers Chat (@roverschat_) August 25, 2021
Leicester City – George Hirst (Portsmouth)
Another side that prefers to nurture their players internally, Leicester’s list of loanees leaves a lot to be desired. Dennis Praet has been loaned out, but he is 27.
Hirst joined the Foxes in 2019 from Sheff Wed and has been excellent at youth level, scoring 13 in 21 for Leicester’s U23 side and seven in 13 for England U20s. But at senior level he has struggled. In 32 matches for Rotherham United last season he scored a grand total of zero goals; minutes were hard to come by and Rotherham were relegated.
In terms of the individuals in this list, Leicester would rank quite low. In terms of youngsters currently at the club and how they are developed, the Foxes would be very close to the top.
Liverpool – Leighton Clarkson (Blackburn)
Now, Liverpool have some very decent young players out on loan, but we have thrown you a potential curveball here. Harry Wilson is on loan at Fulham (we think), and is 24 years old. Rhys Williams has joined Swansea City for the season and has first-team experience. And Ben Woodburn is a talented player, but he hasn’t lived up to expectations yet despite only being 21.
Clarkson is a defensive midfielder who has recently been called up for the England U20 squad for the first time in his career. At the age of 19, he has started Blackburn’s last two league matches.
Very highly rated at his parent club, Clarkson is tipped to have a great career.
Manchester City – Taylor Harwood-Bellis (Anderlecht)
Harwood-Bellis will spend the season with Belgian giants Anderlecht. Their head coach: Vincent Kompany. Who better to help the development of one of their best young defenders than their greatest ever defender?
He made his senior debut in the FA Cup against Preston North End in September 2019 and spent the latter half of the 20/21 campaign on loan at Blackburn, making 19 appearances for Tony Mowbray’s side.
Man City have some incredible youth facilities, which unsurprisingly has resulted in an excellent youth team, but this decision was a fairly easy one.
Pedro Porro is on loan at Sporting Lisbon and has been since last August. Sporting’s option to buy – alongside the length of the loan – heavily indicates that he won’t return to Manchester. If that wasn’t the case, he would likely have got the nod over Harwood-Bellis.
Manchester United – Facundo Pellistri (Alaves)
Much like Liverpool, Man Utd have some excellent youngsters out on loan this season. Ethan Laird, Tahith Chong, James Garner, Brandon Williams, Dylan Levitt and Axel Tuanzebe – who is 24 years old – all spring to mind. But Pellistri is the best youngster United have rented out for the year.
The Red Devils signed the winger from Penarol for around £8m and they have high hopes for the 19-year-old.
Still awaiting his first senior appearance for United, he spent the second half of last season at Alaves in La Liga. He featured 12 times in the league before signing on again for 2021/22.
Newcastle United – Matty Longstaff (Aberdeen)
What a monumental rise and fall Longstaff has enjoyed/endured in such a short space of time. He scored the winner against Manchester United on his Premier League debut in October 2019 and actually scored in the return fixture at Old Trafford. We won’t mention that scoreline, though.
Oh well, from one team once managed by Sir Alex Ferguson to another. Matty – younger brother of Newcastle teammate Sean – has made the move up north for the season and will now learn from the likes of Scott Brown at Aberdeen. He should be careful though; if he listens to Brown too much he might never leave Scotland.
There isn’t a great deal of competition for the best youngster loaned out by Newcastle, but Longstaff is one of the better players on this list.
Norwich City – Sam McCallum (Queens Park Rangers)
A promising left-back, Norwich spent close to £4m to sign McCallum from Coventry City in January 2020. He was instantly loaned back to Coventry for the rest of the 19/20 season before joining again for the entirety of 20/21.
He joins QPR for the season as one of the best young players at the Norfolk club. It is worth mentioning that the Rs had a tremendous transfer window, also bringing in Andre Gray, Charlie Austin and Stefan Johansen.
An honourable mention is Sebastian Soto who is currently with FC Porto, primarily to represent their B team. Soto is an American international with two goals in as many matches. It’s pretty even between him and McCallum for this illustrious honour.
Southampton – Dan N’Lundulu (Lincoln City)
Southampton are one of the best teams in England at developing young players, and selling them to Liverpool. Is that joke still relevant or even the teensiest funny?
N’Lundulu is a promising striker who made 13 Premier League appearances last season. He scored in an FA Cup victory against Shrewsbury Town and was an unused substitute in their semi-final defeat to George Hirst’s Leicester City.
Lincoln will struggle in League One this season and will rely on the 22-year-old to supply the goals when called upon, which will be tricky, but a good learning curve for the former England U16 player.
An honourable mention would go to Jake Vokins, who is on loan at Ross County.
Tottenham – Pape Matar Sarr (FC Metz)
It is perhaps harsh to put Sarr on this list as he signed for Spurs in August with a loan back to Metz being part of the deal. However, here we are.
Troy Parrott has been loaned out to MK Dons and has bags of potential and would have been the choice had Sarr moved to north London without returning to France.
Spurs have an excellent youth team and they will hope their current crop won’t require quite as many loans as Harry Kane before becoming a superstar.
Sarr attracted interest from the likes of Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea before signing for Spurs. He has an incredible future ahead of him if he is to fulfil his potential.
Watford – Tom Dele-Bashiru (Reading)
Watford’s loanees are not great, to put it bluntly. Domingos Quina would have likely been chosen, but his contract expires next summer and Fulham have the option to make his move permanent.
It was between Dele-Bashiru and Mattie Pollock, who is currently on loan at Cheltenham Town.
The midfielder will spend the season at Reading in the Championship and has made three appearances in the league, all of which ended in defeat.
Watford signed him from Man City in 2019 after spending 14 years with the Premier League champions.
West Ham – Conor Coventry (Peterborough)
The 21-year-old moves to Peterborough to gain some vital first-team experience. He is also the current captain of the Republic of Ireland U23s.
He was an unused substitute in West Ham’s opening three Premier League matches and made his senior debut in an 8-0 win against Macclesfield in 2018.
A player with plenty of promise, Coventry could perhaps have a good future with the Hammers, but will struggle to get in the team over Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek, who have been excellent under David Moyes. Plenty of youngsters could feature for the first team this season with West Ham competing in the Europa League, but Coventry will not be one of them.
Wolves – Morgan Gibbs-White (Sheffield United)
A player who seems to come off the bench every time I watch a Wolves match, Gibbs-White will get some regular playing time in the second tier with recently relegated Sheffield United after moving on deadline day.
He joined Swansea City on loan last season but returned to Wolves in January after only making six appearances for the Swans due to a long-term foot injury.
An England U21 international, Gibbs-White is a lovely player and an easy choice when looking at the Molineux club’s loanees.
The Blades have had a difficult start to the season, so they will be hoping the 21-year-old can live up to the hype and help turn their fortunes around.