Skip to main content

14 of the best ever Premier League loan signings

Romelu Lukaku West Brom

There's money being thrown round left, right and centre in the transfer market - but sometimes the best deals cost nothing at all.

Billy Gilmour's move to Norwich City in this window is a notable loan move and one that could make or break the Canaries' survival this season - but Daniel Farke isn't the first to dip into the reserves of bigger clubs to tap up unused talent.

WHAT'S IN A LOAN? Why Steve Cooper's Swansea tenure shows how Championship clubs could be run

Allow us to take a trip down memory lane for some of the best loan moves we've seen in the Prem to date. 

1. Daniel Sturridge, Chelsea to Bolton

Remember when Sturridge used to play week in, week out? The injury-prone centre-forward may be struggling to reignite his Liverpool career at present, but he was a mainstay in Owen Coyle’s Bolton starting XI at the Reebok Arena in 2011. Sturridge bagged eight goals in 12 league encounters – including a last-minute winner on his debut against Wolves – and became only the sixth player to score in each of his first four games for a Premier League club.

His fine form persuaded Chelsea to give him a chance back at Stamford Bridge in 2011/12, but the Blues eventually gave up and sold him to Liverpool in January 2013.

2. Christophe Dugarry, Bordeaux to Birmingham

“We are delighted that he has chosen us,” said Birmingham boss Steve Bruce after the World Cup-winning Dugarry signed in January 2003. “To have someone of his credentials is a massive, massive thing for us. It's the biggest signing this club has ever made.”

The Frenchman didn't disappoint, with five goals and many more wonderful performances playing a big part in Birmingham avoiding the drop, having won five of their last eight matches to survive comfortably.

3. Henrik Larsson, Helsingborgs to Man United

Although Larsson only scored one Premier League goal in his three months at Old Trafford, he was an excellent temporary addition for Manchester United (the Swede also netted in the FA Cup and Champions League).

ONE-ON-ONE Henrik Larsson: "The only regret of my career? Spending just two months at Man United"

“He's been fantastic for us, his professionalism, his attitude, everything he's done has been excellent,” said Sir Alex Ferguson, whose attempts to persuade Larsson to extend his stay until the end of the 2006/07 season proved unsuccessful.

4. Robbie Keane, Inter to Leeds

Keane’s £13m move from Coventry to Inter in July 2000 didn't work out at all well, with the Irishman making just six Serie A appearances before being loaned to Leeds just before Christmas. Keane struck nine times in 14 games as David O’Leary’s men challenged for a Champions League spot, and then signed a five-year deal at Elland Road in May.

5. Amr Zaki, Zamalek to Wigan

According to FIFA’s official player rankings, Zaki was the best striker in the world when Wigan loaned him from Zamalek in July 2008. A blistering start at the JJB Stadium did little to harm his reputation: Zaki led the Premier League goalscoring charts after converting seven in his first eight games, a run that featured a brace against Liverpool at Anfield and the corking overhead kick above.

The move turned sour a few months later, though, with Steve Bruce labelling him the most unprofessional player he'd ever worked with after the striker returned late from international duty with Egypt for the fourth time in April.

6. Loic Remy, QPR to Newcastle

Remy joined Newcastle following QPR’s relegation in 2013, and scored 14 Premier League goals for the Magpies to earn himself a permanent switch to Chelsea the following summer. It's proved a bit of a false dawn, though: Remy has only managed 37 Premier League appearances in the three full seasons since, scoring eight times.  

7. Mikel Arteta, Real Sociedad to Everton

With Everton flying high in fourth when the January window opened in 2005, David Moyes knew that a few astute signings could help his side get over the line in their quest to qualify for the Champions League. James Beattie arrived from Southampton for £6m, but the loan addition of Arteta turned out to be an even better deal for the Toffees, as the Spaniard played a key role in the Merseysiders’ final top-four placing.

Arteta signed permanently that summer and was a huge success, before Arsene Wenger brought him to Arsenal in 2011.

8. George Weah, Milan to Chelsea

Weah may have been 33 when he was loaned from Milan to Chelsea in the second half of the 1999/2000 season, but the legendary Liberian was still good enough to make an impact on English shores. 

A late winner against Tottenham on his debut ensured Weah got off to a perfect start in west London, while his goals in ties against Leicester and Gillingham helped Chelsea to the FA Cup final – which they won by defeating Aston Villa 1-0.

9. Romelu Lukaku, Chelsea to West Brom

Lukaku has established himself as one of the best strikers in the Premier League in recent seasons, helping him earn a £75m move to Manchester United in 2017. 

Back in 2012/13, it was West Brom who benefited from the burly Belgian’s sharpshooting: on loan from Chelsea, Lukaku netted 17 times in 35 games as Steve Clarke’s side secured a top-eight finish.

10. Ryan Bertrand, Chelsea to Southampton

The sales of Adam Lallana, Rickie Lambert, Dejan Lovren, Calum Chambers and Luke Shaw in the summer of 2014 led some (Phil Neville) to predict that Southampton would be relegated in the upcoming season. Instead, Saints finished seventh after signing some astute replacements for their outgoing stars, with Chelsea loanee Bertrand filling Shaw’s shoes at left-back brilliantly.

11. Ivan Campo, Real Madrid to Bolton

Sam Allardyce’s early-2000s Bolton were one of the most intriguing outfits of the Premier League era, with journeyman British pros such as Mike Whitlow, Paul Warhurst and Anthony Barness sharing a dressing room with international stars like Jay-Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff and Ivan Campo.

The latter swapped Real Madrid for the northwest of England in the summer of 2002. The Spaniard excelled in both defence and midfield, before signing a permanent deal 12 months later.

12. Jurgen Klinsmann, Sampdoria to Tottenham

Klinsmann’s first spell at White Hart Lane in 1994/95 was a huge success, with 30 goals in all competitions earning him cult hero status among the Tottenham fanbase. It was a record that also impressed Bayern Munich, who brought him back to the Bundesliga at the end of that campaign.

However, that wasn’t the end of Klinsmann and Tottenham’s love affair: the German returned to north London in the latter half of the 1997/98 season. Nine goals in 15 Premier League games – including four in the 6-2 win over Wimbledon at Selhurst Park – helped save Spurs from what would have been an ignominious relegation.

13. Steven Caulker, Tottenham to Swansea

Caulker’s loan switch to Liverpool in 2015/16 raised more than a few eyebrows, but his reputation was a lot higher after a successful spell at Swansea back in 2011/12. The then 20-year-old cut an assured figure at the heart of the Swans’ backline, with his composure on the ball making him the ideal centre-back for Brendan Rodgers’ possession-based side. 

14. Kevin Campbell, Trabzonspor to Everton

An extraordinary racist attack on Campbell by Trabzonspor chairman Mehmet Ali Yilmaz meant the striker sought a move back to England just months after signing for the Turkish club from Nottingham Forest in 1998.

Everton welcomed him back to the Premier League on loan until the end of the season, and Campbell repaid the club’s faith manifold, scoring nine times in eight matches to lift the Merseysiders away from the relegation zone and into the sanctuary of lower mid-table. He also became the first loanee to win the Premier League Player of the Month award in April 1999.

Subscribe to FourFourTwo today and get a FREE England Euro 96 shirt!

READ NEXT

OLYMPIC FOOTBALL What would a men's Team GB football side look like?

TOKYO 2020 Team GB Olympics 2020 football squad: full women's team

TEAM GB All the fixtures for Team GB's women's football team