When used effectively, the loan market can bring significant benefits to a club. For Liverpool, the aim of the loan market is primarily to give youngsters and squad players the opportunity to play regular first team football and either impress enough to warrant a return to Anfield or appreciate in value so the club can then sell the player on a permanent basis for a decent fee.
There are examples of when the Reds have utilised the loan market wisely.
Although at the time many rightly questioned the decision to loan out Andy Carroll to West Ham United, in hindsight it turned out to be the right move, since Liverpool coped in his absence and his form at the Boleyn Ground was sufficiently impressive to persuade ‘Big Sam’ Allardyce to cough up an extremely generous £15 million to secure the injury-prone Geordie’s services on a permanent basis. In addition, very few supporters now question the wisdom of loaning out fans’ favourite Pepe Reina to Napoli considering the form of his replacement Simon Mignolet.
However, questions have been asked about the other loan deals that the Reds conducted last summer. Specifically, some have argued that the likes of Borini, Assaidi and Suso would have provided better attacking options than the disappointing Victor Moses, and the form of Aly Cissokho has done little to convince Kopites that his future lies at Anfield, although it has arguably improved over recent weeks.
So, the question becomes, should Liverpool recall the players they have loaned out and send their loan signings back to their parent clubs?
Niggling injuries hampered Borini’s form during his sole season at the club following a transfer from AS Roma for roughly £8 million. The 22-year old’s goalscoring rate of one goal in ten matches was far from impressive, and he also seemed to have the knack of squandering unbelievably good goalscoring chances.
With Suarez, Sturridge and Aspas ahead of him in the pecking order, it made sense to loan Borini to Sunderland, where he has netted three times in 18 appearances, which is hardly prolific but it must be remembered that he’s playing in a struggling Sunderland side, who are one of the Premier League’s lowest scoring teams.
He may only have managed to score three goals, but all of them have come at crucial times in big matches.
|Borini scored a late winner vs Newcastle|
Moreover, on Tuesday, Borini converted a spot kick against Manchester United to hand Sunderland a 2-1 win in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final, delighting both Sunderland and Liverpool supporters in the process.
In the long term, Borini might have a future at Anfield, although he’ll have to score more goals at Sunderland to fully convince me he is able to perform for Liverpool. In the short term, however, Borini should remain at the Stadium of Light and continue his development, since the Reds are hardly struggling in the Italian’s absence and he will have far more first team opportunities on Wearside than on Merseyside. If he continues to impress Gus Poyet then Rodgers can either cash him in or call him back to Anfield.
Assaidi arrived from Heerenveen for £2.5 million a complete unknown and remained anonymous throughout the 2012/2013 season, failing to start a single Premier League match and being confined to occasional substitute performances and Europa League matches.
Ironically, he has only really caught the attention of Kopites while on loan at Liverpool’s upcoming opponents Stoke City. Like Borini, Assaidi’s three League goals in the Potters’ red and white stripes have been eye-catching and have come against top teams.
He’d already hit a spectacular long range strike in Stoke’s League Cup tie at Birmingham City; before he grabbed the headlines with a beautiful last gasp winner from the edge of the box in Stoke’s remarkable 3-2 win over Chelsea at the Britannia Stadium.
|Mourinho didn't see that one coming|
Despite the goals he has scored, the 25-year old Assaidi is unlikely to have a future at Anfield and has probably found his level at Stoke City. It would be unwise to recall him since he is not up to the standard of Coutinho and Sterling, who he would be in direct competition for a first team place with.
The best move to take is to let him remain at the Britannia Stadium and hopefully see him appreciate in value to the point where we can sell him to Stoke and at least recoup our initial outlay, if not make a profit.
The decision to loan Suso out to Almeria was severely questioned by many Liverpool supporters. He was arguably one of the club’s most promising youngsters and many thought he deserved the chance to fight for a first team place at Anfield.
From all accounts, the 20-year old attacking midfielder has had a successful loan spell in Spain, scoring twice and providing five assists in 16 Almeria appearances. As a result, some have called for Rodgers to bring him back to Anfield to add depth to our attack and further his development. Sterling is thriving, so why shouldn’t Suso, the argument goes.
|Suso in action for Almeria|
Letting him continue to quietly improve and develop his game away from the spotlight in Spain might be wiser than throwing him into the deep end at Anfield.
Nobody denies that Moses has failed to live up to expectations at Liverpool. In August he was widely welcomed as an exciting arrival and a debut goal against Swansea City was promising. Since then, though, the 23-year old has failed to add to his tally and his performances have been so underwhelming that many have made a cogent case for ending his loan spell early and sending him back to Chelsea.
|Moses was substituted at half time vs Oldham|
With Jose Enrique out with a long-term injury and few other alternatives, Aly Cissokho has started more regularly at left back in Liverpool’s defence in recent weeks and has shown signs of promise, particularly with his penchant for attacking football down the wing.
The Frenchman’s spell at Anfield began in the worst possible manner, as he picked up an ankle injury in his first start against Notts County in the League Cup, which meant he missed almost two months of football. As a consequence, Cissokho struggled to find form and, although he may be improving, there is still a lot of work for him to do if he is to persuade Rodgers to make his move from Valencia a permanent one.
|Cissokho currently has little competition at left back|
In the end, the most important question is not whether or not Liverpool made mistakes when loaning out certain players and signing others on a temporary basis last summer. After all, the very nature of a loan move is that it is reversible, so clubs have the flexibility to bring back players if they change their mind.
The most important question is whether the players in question will contribute to the club in some capacity in the short and long run. The answer differs depending on the player’s form and circumstances.
Moses and Cissokho both perform a short term role at the club, even if it is just stopping Mourinho having another striker at his disposal in the case of the former, although neither appears likely to convince Rodgers to sign them on a permanent basis. Conversely, Borini and Suso may have futures at Anfield, however, for the moment, it’s probably best they remain out on loan. The best course of action regarding Assaidi, meanwhile, is to leave him on loan at Stoke and try to sell him in the summer.
In this crucial January transfer window, which could determine whether or not Liverpool qualify for next season’s Champions League, it would demonstrate a lack of ambition on the part of the owners if, rather than investing in quality new signings who will drive the Reds into the top four and contribute to their long term success, they settle for recalling youngsters and squad players from loans.