Why Do Players Go On Loan In Football? (4 Reasons)

Last updated on August 2nd, 2022

In football, most teams make use of loan players. Many clubs and players alike opt for loan transfers during the transfer window.

You may have noticed loan players on your team’s roster. There are multiple reasons that can lead to such circumstances. 

Here’s what you need to know about why football players on loan:

Why do football players go on loan?

Every transfer window includes the transfer of several players. However, the player & club may not permanently part ways just yet, so the player may opt for a loan.

Many factors influence such loan transfers, these include:

#1 Player Development

Many players, especially from the youth academy, do not get enough playtime at their parent club. Thus, they will get loaned out to develop their game and get adequate opportunities

Many youngsters are considered too raw and unprepared to shoulder the club’s demands in contrast to more established players. Thus, it’s either they patiently wait for chances or leave the club on a temporary basis.

At the end of their loan spell, they will return to their parent club. From that point, the player and club will make evaluations on whether to stay at the club, go on another loan or permanently transfer to another club .

Tammy Abraham is an example of a player who left his club on loan for consistent playtime. The Englishman emerged from Chelsea’s youth academy in 2016 before going on loan to Bristol City in the Championship.  

This was the first of three consecutive loan spells that Tammy went on. He featured for Premier League side, Swansea City, in 2017/18 and helped Aston Villa gain Premier League promotion in 2018/19.

Upon his return from his final loan spell at Aston Villa, Tammy Abraham fit into a Chelsea side coached by Frank Lampard and helped them to a top four finish

This was partly because Chelsea was hit with a transfer ban which prevented them from getting desired players. As such, the club turned to its youth product for the season.

#2 Personal Issues

Along with their quests for glory and greener pastures, footballers are also considerate of their personal life. Thus, players make loan transfers due to the situations in their private lives.

Such situations could be due to family matters and personal sentiments. As such, these players move to put themselves and their families in a more comfortable position.

The nature of loan transfer allows the player to return to his parent club after settling his environment. 

Radja Nainggolan is an example of a player compelled to move due to personal/family issues. The Belgian has shone for both club and country at different levels.

Over the years, Naingolan cemented his status as one of the best midfielders in Italy’s Serie A. However, his flight at the top was cut short as he had to re-sign for his former club, Cagliari, due to his wife’s battle with cancer.

The Inter coach at the time, Antonio Conte, informed Nainggolan that he was not part of his plans for the season. He then made a loan switch to Cagliari to play the season and be closer to his wife.

Naingolan’s wife, Claudia Lai, lived in Cagliari, and he left Inter to be with her during the precarious period of her sickness. His former club was more than delighted to have the midfield maestro back.

#3 Dispute with Manager

Managers play a huge role in the squad planning of their teams. Thus, a conflict between the manager and player will usually lead to an unfavourable fallout for the player.

Such a player will likely be sidelined and starved of playtime. Lack of playtime often prompts players to leave the club for more suitable conditions. 

Due to this, the player may decide to leave the club temporarily to prove his worth to his club and manager. After the loan, he may decide to permanently leave the club or stay depending on the manager.

Gareth Bale is regarded by many as one of the greatest British footballers ever. The Welshman seized the football world by storm after an astonishing transformation at Tottenham into one of the most dangerous attackers.

On the back of an excellent season, Bale made a world record transfer to Real Madrid.  He helped Los Blancos secure the fabled La Decima, and an incredible consecutive Champions League three-peat, among several other achievements.

However, the fairytale took an unfortunate turn when he fell out with Real Madrid manager, Zinedine Zidane. The Frenchman had disputes with Bale over his attitude to the team and poor fitness record.

Bale’s playtime took a significant hit and he consequently made a loan switch back to Tottenham. During this period, he raked up almost 20 goal contributions for the season and once again basked in the limelight of White Hart Lane.

#4 Poor form

On many occasions, a player may fall short of his club’s expectations. Thus, the club may decide to loan the player out in order to regain his form with improved rhythm and a favourable environment

The player’s temporary departure will also make way for new arrivals to the club. Younger players are usually the subject of such loan transfers. 

Alvaro Morata is an example of a player who was loaned out due to poor form. Presently, Morata plays for Serie A giants Juventus on loan from Atletico Madrid.

The Spaniard emerged from the ranks of Real Madrid as a promising youngster and even played his part in the historic La Decima campaign. Thereafter, he made a permanent transfer to Juventus where he helped the Bianconeri continue their domestic dominance.

Real Madrid purchased him back in the summer of 2016, and he impressed with Los Blancos winning the Champions League and La Liga double in that season. Morata was then sold to Chelsea the following season.

However, Morata would fail to reach the levels expected for him at Stamford Bridge. The player made a loan move to Atletico Madrid in December 2019, and a permanent deal the following summer.

At Atletico, Morata also fell below expectations and was loaned to Juventus on a second stint where he will remain until June 2022. 

Why do football clubs loan players?

Clubs are known to make several loan offers for willing players. Loaning players is considered a cheaper alternative compared with buying them

Furthermore, the temporary structure of the loan transfer relieves the club from the burden of acquiring unproven players. Here are some reasons why clubs take players on loan:

#1 Strengthening the squad

Many clubs, especially those of small stature, may lack quality players but also lack the proper tools to purchase the footballers they want. 

Thus, they may opt for players of similar profile to fit that position on a temporary basis.

Amad Diallo played the 2021/22 season for scottish giants, Rangers, on loan from Manchester United. The Ivorian attacker was signed on a temporary basis to bolster the attacking options of Rangers in defence of their league title.

By the season’s end, Diallo scored only 3 goals for Rangers after they failed to defend the title. However, the youngster won the Scottish Cup and will return to Manchester United next season.

#2 Morale & Image

Clubs may look to strengthen their overall image with a particular signing. They may use a loan move to pull this off.

It is quite likely the player may be a club legend beloved by the fans. Although the player may not undertake major contributions on the pitch, he will be a major boost to the morale of both the fans and players.  

Thiery Henry is regarded as the best Arsenal player of all time. Henry helped the club to its most historic feats during his 8–year stint at North London, including the fanatical Invincible Premier League Season

He also won two premier league titles with Arsenal, and reached the 2006 Champions League final. The Gunners have not managed to equal any of these achievements since his departure.

In the summer of 2007, Henry permanently transferred to Barcelona ending his brilliant spell at North London. He achieved many great things with the Blaugrana, and later moved to Red Bulls New York in 2010.

However, Arsenal brought Henry back on a loan move for two months in 2012. The Frenchman was available during the MLS off-season and opted to shortly join his beloved club while covering for the Arsenal attackers participating in the January AFCON.

During this stint, the legend managed only two goals but lifted the spirits of fans for his time there. Henry also rounded off his total career goals with an astounding 228 goals as the club record.

#3 Financial Distress

When a club’s financial state is in distress, they may resort to loaning players to avoid full transfer costs

Thus, the club may strengthen their squad with temporary solutions until they can afford their desired players. 

Adama Traore was brought to Barcelona on loan during the 2022 winter transfer window. The Spaniard played for Wolverhampton Wanderers until the transfer move was finalised.

Barcelona were in a tight situation due to their finances, and faltered in performances. Before the winter transfer window, they had dropped into the Europa League and were outside the top four on the LaLiga table.

Thus, the club made several winter transfers, in addition to Traore, including:

However, Traore was the only loan transfer. The former Wolves man contributed 2 assists to help Barcelona to a second-place La Liga finish, and is unlikely to remain with the Blaugrana.

#4 Coach’s pull

The manager is very involved in the squad planning process. Hence, he may request specific players to be transferred.

Youngsters are usually the subject of such transfers. This would usually occur if the manager worked in another club’s youth setup and developed a good relationship with the player.

Mason Mount is one of Chelsea’s biggest stars. Before the Englishman starred for the blues, he spent two seasons on loan with Vitesse & Derby County.

However, it was former Chelsea Legend, Frank Lampard, that facilitated Mount’s loan move to Derby County. Mount repaid the boss’s faith by contributing 11 goals and 6 assists to the team.

In fact, after Mount’s impressive season, he returned to Chelsea with Lampard, who became the new Blues manager. Lampard fully implemented him as an important player in the team and the rest is history.

Why do football clubs loan out players?

Here are some reasons why a club may loan out their players as well:

#1 Squad Regulations 

Squad regulations are placed to keep squad rosters to a reasonable amount. In fact, all leagues have rules regarding the number of players permitted on the squad roster.

Sometimes the club’s roster may be full to the brim and the management will be compelled to cut down the excess. Thus, the club may loan fringe players to comply with squad regulations.

Takefusa Kubo plays for Mallorca on loan from Real Madrid. The Japanese youngster arrived in Los Blancos’ camp in the 2019 summer transfer window. 

However, Kubo has spent the entirety of his Real Madrid career on loan. This is because La Liga regulations restrict the number of non-EU players to three(3) in a matchday squad. 

Real Madrid currently has three players in those spots including Rodrygo, Eder Militao, and Vinicius Jr. Thus, Kubo has been on loan to three different teams since his arrival, including:

  • Mallorca
  • Getafe
  • Villareal 

Kubo just completed another season on loan at Mallorca, the youngster will return to Real Madrid and may finally get his chance for Los Blancos or embark on another loan.

#2 Transfer agreement

Transfer moves are usually far from a simple affair. Clubs may not be able to directly purchase desired players due to several reasons.

Thus, both clubs can decide on a loan transfer and include purchase options in the deal. Clubs have increasingly favoured this transfer strategy in recent years.

Federico Chiesa currently plays for Juventus. The Italian attacker emerged as a blazing youngster at Fiorentina, and caught the interest of several top clubs.

Juventus made a transfer deal with Fiorentina to acquire Chiesa’s services. Part of this agreement included a loan deal from 2020 – 2022 and a buy option which was recently activated

#3 Wage bill

Several teams have incorporated the strategy of loaning out undesired but highly paid players to lighten their wage bill. League regulations may also implement a salary cap which requires the club to loan out such players to avoid violation.

In such arrangements, the club where the player is loaned to will usually pay part of the player’s wages and thus lighten the parent’s club initial financial burden.

Antoine Griezmann became one of the best players during his 5-year stint with Atletico Madrid. The Frenchman attained new heights, and achieved many feats across club, international, and personal levels during this period.

On the back of his phenomenal success, Griezmann joined another spanish giant side, Barcelona, in 2019. However, the striker’s Blaugrana journey did not go as hoped

In light of his poor performances, Griezmann’s enormous wages became strenuous to a struggling Barcelona. Thus, the player was returned to Atletico Madrid on loan to lighten Barcelona’s wage bill and avoid a violation of the salary cap regulations.

#4 Business Structure

In recent times, football clubs have been acquired by group investments. This business model features a conglomerate of clubs which are linked to each other.

There are several football groups which follow this model, including:

  • Red Bull Football
  • City Group Football
  • Coca-Cola Football Group
  • Anschutz Entertainment Group
  • Kroenke Sports & Entertainment

Such ownership groups have created their private ecosystem where players can be easily exchanged. On many occasions, the clubs acquire players from this ecosystem on loan and even full transfer with no hassle.

Frank Lampard is one of football’s best midfielders ever. After ending a legendary career with Chelsea, the Englishman made a permanent switch to New York City FC. 

However, to the shock of many, Lampard joined Chelse’s rivals, Manchester City on a loan deal. This happened because Manchester City and New York City are owned by the City Football Group amongst others, including:

  • Manchester City
  • New York City FC
  • Estac Troyes
  • Girona
  • Melbourne City FC
  • Lommel SK
  • Sichuan Jiunu
  • Montevideo City Torque
  • Mumbai City FC

Lampard signed for Manchester City since the MLS season had not yet resumed. The transfer deal was initially a 6-month loan but was eventually extended for the entire 2014-15 season

Frank Lampard resumed to MLS, for the next season, as a New York City FC player until he retired the following year.


Loans are just one way that a footballer can change their club, and you can read more about the reasons why here.

Many clubs make use of the loan deal to sign players on a temporary basis. However, such loans depend on several circumstances

After the loan deal, players return to their club and reevaluate their future. Depending on the arrived decision, they may be sold, loaned again, or finally stay at the club.

You can find out more about loans in football here.

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