When did that happen?!
Loan spells are a big part of modern-day football, with Premier League clubs regularly lending lower-league sides their youngsters in what are often mutually beneficial arrangements. Top-flight outfits occasionally borrow players themselves, with Ivan Campo, Henrik Larsson and Christophe Dugarry among those who have excelled during temporary stays in the divison.
In this slideshow, we pick out 12 loan signings you've probably forgotten...
Jordan Henderson to Coventry
The Liverpool captain has played almost 300 games for the Reds since his move from Sunderland in 2011, but those aren’t the only two clubs he’s represented as a professional. The England international has also pulled on the sky blue shirt of Coventry City, making 13 appearances for the Midlands outfit in 2008/09.
Henderson had only played twice for parent club Sunderland before his temporary move, but the experience he picked up in the Championship stood him in good stead: by the start of the following campaign, the midfielder was a first-team fixture.
Wojciech Szczesny to Brentford
Gianluigi Buffon’s move to Paris Saint-Germain has cleared the path for Szczesny to assume the role of Juventus’ first-choice net-minder this season. Many Arsenal fans were disappointed to see Arsene Wenger let the goalkeeper go on a permanent basis in 2017, two years after he joined Roma on loan.
Szczesny benefited from another temporary spell of employment away from the Emirates earlier in his career, with Brentford borrowing the youngster in 2009/10. The Pole was superb for the Bees during their League One campaign, so much so that he was later voted the club’s goalkeeper of the decade by supporters.
Adam Lallana to Bournemouth
Lallana is synonymous with one Premier League club from the south coast, having made 265 appearances for Southampton before his 2014 switch to Liverpool. Saints aren’t the only the side he’s represented in that part of the UK, though: the midfielder once spent a month on loan at Bournemouth during his teenage years.
The England international played four games for the Cherries during that time, briefly returning to the club where it all began for him before a move to Southampton at the age of 12.
James Milner to Swindon
A precocious talent, Milner made his Leeds debut in November 2002 at the tender age of 16 years and 309 days, becoming the second-youngest player in Premier League history. A further 21 appearances followed before the end of that season, with the midfielder then sent out on loan to Swindon at the start of the subsequent campaign.
Milner played just six times for the third-tier team, returning to Elland Road after a month away and almost immediately becoming a first-team regular.
Andy Kellett to Man United
There will be many Manchester United supporters who have no recollection of Kellett (left) – and with good reason. The Bolton youth product had recently played 12 matches on loan at League Two Plymouth when the Red Devils made their interest known in January 2015, with Trotters manager Neil Lennon conceding he thought someone was “winding him up” when United made an offer to borrow Kellett for the remainder of the campaign.
The youngster played 10 games for United’s Under-23s but, unsurprisingly, never came close to breaking into the first team under Louis van Gaal.
Ashley Cole to Crystal Palace
Arsenal and Chelsea aren’t the only London sides Cole has represented. The left-back made his debut for the former as an 18-year-old in November 1999, but by the end of that season he’d played more games for Crystal Palace than his parent club.
The defender moved to Selhurst Park midway through the campaign and played 14 games for Steve Coppell’s side, who finished 15th in the second tier. According to Ray Parlour, Cole – who still had time to make his Premier League debut for Arsenal before the 1999/00 season was out – came close to joining the Eagles on a permanent basis.
Aaron Ramsey to Nottingham Forest
Ramsey briefly returned to boyhood club Cardiff in January 2011, 11 months after he suffered a horrific leg break against Stoke in the Premier League. Before that more memorable move, the Welshman spent six weeks at the City Ground, joining Nottingham Forest on a short-term loan as he sought to build up his match fitness.
That was the intention, at least; as it turned out, Ramsey made just a single Championship start for Billy Davies’ men, playing 60 minutes of Forest’s 5-2 victory over neighbours and rivals Derby.
Jonjo Shelvey to Blackpool
A string of excellent displays for Charlton in the second and third tiers convinced Liverpool to spend £1.7m on Shelvey in May 2010. The midfielder played 21 times for the Reds in his debut campaign at the club, before embarking on a loan spell at Blackpool in autumn 2011.
The youngster performed brilliantly at Bloomfield Road, scoring six goals in 10 Championship games for Ian Holloway’s charges – including a hat-trick in a 5-0 vanquishing of Leeds. The deal was cut short after two months, however, as the Reds recalled Shelvey due to an injury crisis on Merseyside.
Ross Barkley to Leeds
Barkley’s Everton debut was delayed after he broke his leg while on international duty with England’s Under-19s in October 2010. His first-team bow eventually arrived at the start of 2011/12, but the midfielder was soon sent out on loan to Sheffield Wednesday, for whom he scored four goals in 13 Championship appearances.
Barkley also spent time at Leeds that campaign, although his stint at Elland Road was more forgettable: the now-Chelsea man failed to find the net and played the full 90 minutes on just two occasions.
Mart Poom to Arsenal
As well as sending youngsters out to cut their teeth in the lower leagues, top Premier League clubs have made several forgettable loan signings of their own.
Chief among them is Arsenal's capture of Mart Poom in 2005. Seeking cover for goalkeepers Jens Lehmann and Manuel Almunia, Arsene Wenger borrowed the Sunderland glovesman for three months, before converting the temporary arrangement into a permanent transfer in the January window – despite the fact Poom had yet to make his debut for the Gunners.
Kazuyuki Toda to Tottenham
One of the strangest signings Spurs have ever made, Toda moved to north London on loan from Shimizu S-Pulse in 2003. The Japanese played all four of the co-hosts’ matches at the 2002 World Cup, and Spurs fought off competition from Sunderland to land the 25-year-old on a 12-month loan from Shimizu S-Pulse.
Manager Glenn Hoddle called his new recruit an “immensely impressive midfielder” upon his arrival at White Hart Lane, but Toda played only four top-flight games before signing for Den Haag in 2004.
Kyle Walker to Northampton
Walker, who grew up a stone’s throw from Bramall Lane, joined Sheffield United at the age of seven and made his maiden first-team outing as an 18-year-old in January 2009. Before that, though, the right-back spent two months on loan at Northampton, who handed him his professional debut and eight further appearance in League One.
“Some of those [Northampton] players depend[ed] on winning games. That can pay their mortgage so it was a fantastic opportunity for me and a really massive learning curve to go down there,” Walker said before the 2018 World Cup.
Brad Friedel to Newcastle
Friedel racked up 450 appearances during his time in the Premier League, representing Liverpool, Blackburn, Aston Villa and Tottenham over the course of an 18-year stay in English football. The American was once on the books of Newcastle too, but he didn’t play a single game during a forgotten loan spell in the mid-1990s.
After being denied a work permit to join Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest, Friedel was snapped up by the Magpies on what was technically a loan deal from the United States Soccer Federation. He again failed to secure a work permit, however, but was allowed to train with Kevin Keegan’s side before his move to Brondby in 1995.
Danny Welbeck to Preston
Many will recall Welbeck’s temporary switch to Sunderland in 2010/11, but that wasn’t the first time the forward spent time away from Old Trafford while contracted to Manchester United. At the start of 2010 the 19-year-old became Darren Ferguson’s first signing as Preston boss, joining North End until the end of the season.
A knee injury limited Welbeck to just eight appearances for the Championship side, in which time he scored twice as Preston successfully avoided relegation to League One.
Wayne Bridge to Sunderland
Having joined Manchester City in 2009, Bridge fell down the pecking order as Sheikh Mansour’s billions began to have an effect. The left-back played 18 matches during a temporary stint at West Ham in 2010/11, before moving north to Sunderland for another loan spell the following season.
Bridge’s debut came as an 82nd-minute substitute in a 3-0 victory over Norwich, and the remainder of his employment in the northeast was similarly low-key. The former England international played eight Premier League games in total, helping the Black Cats to a 13th-place finish under Martin O’Neill.
Andy Goram to Manchester United
Goram won five Scottish Premier Division titles and three Scottish Cups during his time at Rangers, but the Glasgow giants reasoned the goalkeeper was past his best in 1998 and duly sold him to Motherwell.
It came as a major surprise, then, when Manchester United took the Scot on loan a full three years later. The 36-year-old played just two league games for the Red Devils as he provided emergency cover for Fabien Barthez and Raimond van der Gouw, before moving permanently to Hamilton Academical at the end of the season.
Ignacio Gonzalez to Newcastle
Gonzalez will be remembered by some Newcastle fans, but not for anything he did on the pitch. The Uruguayan moved from Danubio to Valencia in summer 2008, before immediately swapping the Mestalla for St James’ Park and a season-long loan in England.
The problem was that Magpies manager Kevin Keegan had no knowledge of the deal, alleging that Gonzalez was signed by executive director Dennis Wise on the basis of a YouTube video. The Premier League backed Keegan’s claims and ruled that the club owed compensation to the former England boss for breach of contract. Gonzalez, meanwhile, played just twice in the top flight before returning to Valencia.
Grant Holt to Aston Villa
After working his way up through the lower divisions, Holt made his Premier League debut for Paul Lambert’s Norwich at the age of 30 in 2011. Fifteen goals followed in his debut season at the top table, but the striker was sold to Championship side Wigan after scoring just eight times the following campaign.
That wasn’t the end of Holt’s Premier League career, though: in January 2014, the former Nottingham Forest centre-forward was reunited with Lambert at Aston Villa. But Holt struggled to make a positive impression in the West Midlands, scoring just one goal in 10 appearances.
Stipe Pletikosa to Tottenham
Having fallen out of favour at CSKA Moscow, Pletikosa was granted a loan move away from the Russian capital in 2010. The goalkeeper presumably didn’t expect to end up at a Tottenham side that had finished fourth in the Premier League the previous season, but Harry Redknapp snapped him up on a season-long loan deal as cover for Heurelho Gomes and Carlo Cudicini.
Pletikosa made just one appearance for Spurs, which ended in a 4-1 defeat by local rivals Arsenal in the League Cup. He remained at White Hart Lane until the end of the campaign but was quickly forgotten by fans of the Lilywhites.
Louis Saha to Newcastle
Saha is the only man to have played in Manchester, Merseyside, north London and Tyne-Wear derbies in the Premier League. His experience of the latter rivalry came during a spell at Sunderland in 2012/13, but it’s often forgotten that the Frenchman also represented Newcastle much earlier in his career.
Signed on loan from Metz in 1999, the then-20-year-old scored two goals in 12 games for Ruud Gullit’s outfit during a half-season stint at St James’ Park. He was back in England 18 months later, joining second-tier side Fulham on a permanent deal and immediately helping them into the top flight.
Lists, Premier League, Aaron Ramsey, Jonjo Shelvey, Kyle Walker, Ross Barkley, Danny Welbeck, Wojciech Szczesny, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Adam Lallana, Manchester United, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, AFC Bournemouth, Swindon Town, Coventry City, Brentford, Preston North End, Leeds United, Blackpool, Northampton Town, Nottingham Forest, Crystal Palace, Newcastle United, Aston Villa, Sunderland, Louis Saha, Wayne Bridge, Ashley Cole, Grant Holt, Brad Friedel, Ignacio González Gatti