Why do football players go on loan? | All you need to know.


As a football fan, have you been wondering why football players go on loan? Football players can go out on loan to other clubs for several reasons. The system of loaning football players is an aspect on its own in transfer market. It has lot of advantages to all the parties involved including the club loaning out a player, the player himself and the receiving club who are receiving the player on loan. 

Sometimes the reason why players go on loan to another team is to find more playing time, it could also be to gain experience and many other reasons.

Why do football players go on loan? In summary football clubs loan out players to gain more experience, especially the young players because of low opportunity for them to feature in the first team starting XI. Clubs loan out the young prospects away to another team where they can probably have enough game time and gain experience. Senior players are also loaned out of the club in order to reduce the overall wage costs spent by the club.


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There are lots of reasons why football (soccer) players go on loan. And there are also alot of rules guiding it. In this article, I will explain everything in bits. I would suggest you sit down, grab a coffee or soft drink and read on.

What does loan mean in football?


As far as football is concerned to loan a player in football is a temporary contract that involves the transfer of a football player from one club [the parent club] to another club [the loaning club] for an agreed and specified period of time even while such player is still under contract at the parent club.

It may be within the same league or even outside in a different league based in another country. The period of a loan usually varies, it depends on the agreement between the two club (the parent club and the loaning club).


Why do football players go on loan?


There are bunch of different reasons and motives why a football club could decide to let out one or more players on loan. When looking at the motives and reasons why players go out on loan, we have to take note of what all parties would benefit from the loan deal. Here are the reasons for why football players go on loan.

  1. To gain more experience
  2. To get more game time
  3. Player not in Coach's plan
  4. To have fresh start
  5. To allow parent club reduce their wage bills

1. To gain more experience

Football players go on loan to actually gain more experience. This is the motive in most cases for youth players, though the senior players may go out on loan to gain experience too. When a youth player first get promoted to the first team they are mostly used as substitute. 


Sometimes they would be in the bench for multiple games without being subbed in not to talk of having their names in the starting XI. How would they get more experience without enough playing time? It’s always best for them to go on loan to gain experience which would later help them in the course of their career. 

Most clubs after after letting their youngsters go on loan on their return, they do consider them and give them a place in the first team. It always turns out good for the player in terms of getting offers from other clubs. To become a regular player in the first team, experience is key.

Infact experience is one of the major factors Coaches use in determining the squad they would pick and work on. You can't expect any young player to bench Luka Modric in the Real Madrid team even if he's painted with skills and techniques. The experience Modric has would always have him as a first choice.

Young players that are products of the academies of biggest clubs in Europe can find it difficult to make it to the first team. It’s possible the club sends such player on loan this is probably because the club might have discovered that the player is promising but not good enough.

In order not to lose the player completely the player would be placed on loan to gain the much needed experience for a year or two. When the loan time is due,  the player would be back to his parent club and ready for some first team shots.

2. To get more game time


In the world of football, game time is very important for every player in the game both the youth and the senior players inclusive. A player would never feel happy if threre are little or no playing time for him. 

The game time a football player gets in their club is one of the factors used by national team managers to pick the team that would represent their country in international competitions.

If a player has little to no game time, it is always difficult for the national team managers to decide on whether they should be included in their squad.

An example of a loan deal which helps the player get a call up to the national team is Jesse Lingard loan move to WestHam United. Actually the move benefitted all parties as the player performed greatly beyond expectations. He got called up to his country's national team and he pulled up a great performance. 

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Manchester United on the other hand benefitted as the player's transfer price begin to rise and many other clubs begin to drive interest in him. If Jesse Lingard had stayed in Manchester United it his certainly he wouldn't be call up to the national team.

Going on loan to another club is actually the best chance for players who are suffering from low game time to get game time, especially if they are loaned to clubs in need of players who plays in their position.

3. Player not in Coach's plan

When football players fall out of plan of a new Coach his chances of featuring in the first team under such coach would become slim. Players in this situation would try hard to impress the coach, that's even if he's given little playing time to do so. 

But once the position he plays in is full of competition such player would suffer low game time. He may end up spending the whole 90 minutes on the bench in each matches.

For this players to have chance to prove themselves they would go on loan. Sometimes with an option to buy in the loan deal, if such player fortunately performed well in the loaning club a permanent transfer  could be done. 

He may also gain back the trust of the manager at the parent club thereby making such player wanted back by all means.

In short, when a coach feels a player doesn't fit in his game plan such player would need a move out of the club and if that wasn't met, such player will have to settle for a loan transfer. The loan transfer at times could get such a player a new club entirely.


4. To have a fresh start

One of the important reasons why footballers go on loan is to actually freshen up their mind and definitely have a fresh start after they had gone through a rough season at the parent club. It is common in football clubs atleast one or few players are going to have a hard time struggling for game time in the club.

Such players would outrightly get frustrated at sitting on the bench in all or most matches. When there is a situation like this a loan transfer is one of the way out. Players who suffer low game time might get frustrated with their role in the team and they might start behaving negatively in the team.

Infact they might miss trainings and end up having personal issues like getting drunk or some sorts. The player does actually need a new club where he would be given enough game time to freshen up their mind and eventually have a fresh start. The best way for a player to pull up a fresh start is to go on loan to a team that are ready to give them the much needed game time.

Once this is done the player would come back to a fresh and normal level where he would be able to free up his mind and perform at his best, looking at the loan move as a medium to get back on his feet and prove why he needs to start in games.

5. To allow parent clubs reduce their wage bills

Football players go on loan to another club to give their parents club chance to reduce their wages bill probably if the club are on the edge of going down financially. Players with huge salary and less role in the club are sent out on loan with an agreement between the parent club and the loaning club.

The two clubs will have to settle on an agreement about how the players wage is going to be payed and who is paying. They can decide to split the players wage into percentage. Doing this would reduce the heavy wage bill on the neck on the parent club.

A case is when Real Madrid sent Gareth Bale on loan to former club Tottenham Hotspur and according to rumours they were responsible for the payment of half of 27 million pounds yearly salary.

Why do clubs sign players on loan?

There are actually 2 major reasons why a club might decide to sign a player on loan. 

1. To increase the depth of their Squad

A loan just like normal transfer can increase the depth of a team by providing back-up to the position in which the team have shortage of players. 

Sometimes top teams play an average of over 50 games in a season and it’s almost impossible for a player to feature in all games thereby making signing of players on loan a benefit and a solution to lack of back-up in the team.

2. To fill some certain voids in the squad

A key player might be ruled out for months over the course of a season, a loan is a great option for such club to find a temporary replacement for the injured player. The loan can be cut-off once the injured player is back from injury and ready to take back his slot.

Who pays the salary of players on loan?

About who pays the salary or wages of players on loan, it actually depends on the deal. A club that agrees and sign a player on loan always pay the player's salary.

But in situations where the parent club are desperate to offload a player so as to give or create a spot for a special player, they may end up out of desperation decide to continue paying the players salary even while he's on loan. 

To cap it all both clubs (the parent club and the loaning club) may decide to split the salary into half or certain percentage.

Are loan players allowed to play against their parent club?

It completely depends on the rules guiding the competition, in premier league loan players are not allowed to play against their parent club while they are on loan. But in Domestic Cup it is allowed provided that the loan player have not featured for the parent side in the competition before joining the loaning club (tie).

Can a player on loan play against their parent club in Champions league?

Yes, players on loan are allowed to play against their parent club under the UEFA rule. As long as the loaning club has requested and received permission from the parent club to allow them to use their player which is on loan to play against them.

What is meant by the term "a player is on loan" at a club in football?

A player is on loan at a football club simply means that the player got transferred temporarily to another club whereby the club receiving a loan player may pay or may not pay a loan fee. It all depends on the agreement they had with the parent club.

Loan period is usually one season, but it can be more or less than one season. 3 months and 6 months loan are common to youth players. Clauses and agreements are usually concluded between the two clubs, clauses like payment of 100%, 70% or 50% wage to be paid by the club which the player is being loaned to.

Can a football player refuse to go on loan?

Yes, a football player may refuse to go on loan if he doesn't like the loaning club but he should be prepared for low or even no game time. Although the loan is the best option for him to get game time but once he refuses to go on loan he might not be opportuned to feature in any match for the rest of the season.

Closing thoughts on why players go on loan

There are many reasons why football players go on loan. The reasons are based on two parties the club and the player himself. A club may decide to send a player on loan to reduce their wage bills or in attempt to get rid of unwanted players. 

On the side of the player, he might accept to go on loan to gain more experience, have enough playing time or to have a fresh start. But all this can only happen with the awareness of the parent club as a player himself can not pull a loan move.

That's all about why football players go on loan, don't forget to check out other articles. Sharing is caring please do share..


Image CC: (the images used in this article are for illustrative purposes and not for any commercial purpose) 

Opeyemi Odenusi

Hi, I'm Opeyemi, a fitness pro and a sport reseacher. I'm here to enlighten and share with you tips and hacks on how to improve your fitness and wellness and also to provide for you relevant informations on sport with a touch of fitness activities that can improve your well-being.

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