Everton FC: 5 Toffees in Need of a Loan Move
With the transfer market in full swing, the majority of Everton supporters are focused on whether or not any new players will be brought in before the end of the month.
The Toffees are well-placed to challenge for a Champions League berth, and a fresh addition could prove crucial in installing extra impetus and momentum to prolong their challenge.
Gossip columns are crammed full of speculation surrounding key players; however, little attention is given to those on the fringes of selection itching to gain experience via a loan move.
Here's a look at five Everton players who would benefit from some first-team football at a lower level.
The Value of a Loan Move
So why is this at all important?
Everton are blessed with one of the most respected production lines of academy players in the country.
Their youth-team conveyor belt continually churns out exciting products which is vital for the Toffees' future and in helping the club maintain its financial stability.
However, for the considerable talent waiting in the wings at Goodison Park, Everton have never been prolific at loaning their products out. Certainly not to the extent as positional rivals such as Arsenal or Tottenham.
In fairness this is generally due to the club's sparse first-team roster, but even a month on loan for one or two peripheral players could prove hugely beneficial.
Playing football in a competitive environment, in front of passionate crowds with jobs and reputations on the line is hugely contrasting to the often mundane settings of the reserve and academy-team game.
Victor Anichebe is a prime example of a player who could perhaps be two or three years further along in his development had he been given an opportunity on loan. The Nigerian's certainly had his fair share of injuries, but he's still managed 150 appearances for Everton, with over 90 coming from the bench.
Jose Baxter is another player who perhaps could have been loaned out a bit more to better evaluate his potential and give him a greater chance to impress.
Seamus Coleman is an example of how a quick loan can have such a positive effect on a young player, and Everton will be hoping Ross Barkley will soon become another.
While the Toffees could not afford to lose all five of these players at once, were they to alternate a couple of short loans, they would surely reap the rewards.
Shane Duffy currently holds the position of Everton's fourth-choice centre-back.
At 21, he's been on the fringes of the Irish senior squad and has already gained loan experience at League One level, as well as one appearance for Burnley in the Championship.
After making his Everton debut in the Europa League in 2009, an injury crisis at centre-back finally gave him a first-team chance last season, where he looked solid enough.
He has since been on the bench for much of this current season, getting a few minutes on the pitch against West Ham; however, he's unlikely to usurp any of Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin or Johnny Heitinga.
Having made his first-team breakthrough, to keep his momentum going and his game fresh and developing, a quick month in the Championship would be a smart move.
Even when two of his three established centre-backs were injured last year, Moyes still opted for an out-of-position Tony Hibbert at centre-back, suggesting he's yet to be entirely convinced of Duffy's credentials.
If he goes and impresses at Championship level, Moyes won't need to be splashing out on many new defenders in the near future.
At the other end of the spectrum from Duffy is John Lundstram, Everton's former academy captain and the current skipper of England U-19s.
While he's still just 18 and at the delicate stages of his development, he's now graduated from Everton's U-18s and is a member of the U-21s.
This is fine for the moment, but given his potential, a taste of a competitive environment and a passionate crowd could drastically enhance his game.
It can be all too easy to drift along through second-string football. It's certainly far harder to impress, there's a lack of team unity with such an alternating side and the schedule is far more relaxed than in domestic football.
Perhaps for now he's best served learning from the more experienced members of the U-21 setup; although a quick spell at a League Two side could really accelerate his growth.
Magaye Gueye is officially a fringe player at Everton.
Having arrived at the club two-and-a-half years ago, he's had several opportunities to stake a claim in the first-team—37 appearances in all—but has yet to prove he's cut out for the English game.
Unlike the other players on this list, it's nearing the stage where it's loan or bust for Gueye.
Contracted until 2015, there seems to be little reason for Everton to extend that deal; so loaning him out would not only give him a chance to improve his game, but could also create some demand for his services.
Even if Moyes didn't deem him worthy of a squad place, a loan could allow him to command a far higher fee and eventually take some valuable income from his sale.
What may stop any potential loan is his continual presence as a substitute—despite the fact he's yet to provide anything meaningful to influence a result coming off the bench.
Scooped up by Everton the moment he was released from Manchester City's academy, Francisco Junior is a player Moyes appears to have high hopes for.
Signing on last February, he featured in several preseason friendlies over the summer and made his first-team debut in the Carling Cup defeat against Leeds.
The Portuguese U-21 international also made the bench for the Premier League match at Reading and seems one for the future.
At 20, now would be the perfect time to assess his pedigree with a short spell in League One, or even the Championship.
If Everton do strengthen this January, central midfield seems the most likely area for Moyes to target. With so many options ahead of Junior, alternating a month or so away from the club with Lundstram would be a sensible move to keep the youngsters progressing.
Vellios is a player who could possibly do with a loan spell more than any of these five players, but he's probably the least likely to have a move granted.
Everton's continual lack of attacking options mean the Greek U-21 international is a valuable squad member, despite his considerable inexperience.
Last year, he was a frequent presence coming off the bench. He scored three goals and even managed to start a couple of Premier League games in place of Louis Saha, after some impressive form.
This season he's again been featuring from the bench, but does not seem to have progressed especially and needs a chance of some extended run-outs.
Were he given a starting role for a few weeks—given the responsibility of leading a line and finding the net regularly—it would surely do wonders for his all-round game.
A few goals would give Everton a far more confident, hungry addition from the bench; although getting that opportunity with so few forwards at the club will remain a challenge.