Here are the five January transfer window loan deals you must know about.
You’ve probably read a lot of articles about David Beckham to Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan signing Mario Balotelli, Willian’s €35 million to Anzhi Makhachkala or Galatasaray announcing themselves to casual football fans by buying Wesley Sneijder and Didier Drogba.
But, what about loan deals? It’s a topic that isn’t covered enough, so this is the article for you.
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AC Milan Loanee at Fulham
Urby Emanuelson was a left-back in Marcelo's mould—he created excitement by charging forward and joining in on the attack but left big holes at the back.
He developed into Ajax's version of the Swiss Army knife, which is pretty standard in Dutch footballers, as he played at the back, in midfield and as a wide forward.
Positive Spin: What a versatile player.
The Truth: Jack of all trades, master of none.
The move to the Rossoneri was quite ambitious because he should've known he'd be typecasted as a utility player.
Massimiliano Allegri thought Urby would be exposed as a defender, so the manager gave the Dutchman an extended run as the trequartista, which is consistent with Massimiliano's belief of using athletically gifted players in that position. Obviously, Kevin-Prince Boateng is the prime example.
With Allegri giving Emanuelson less leeway, the former Ajax player sent his agent to do the routine "my client is unhappy speech" to the media, which is an ultimatum.
Milan management said thanks and sent Urby to Fulham on loan, where he'd link up with former Ajax manager Martin Jol.
Football Italia writer Alex Mott wasn't complimentary of Emanuelson's tenure with Milan:
Urby Emanuelson couldn’t cut it at the highest level—that much was clear when he signed at the start of the last season from Ajax. So 18 months later, and a half century of appearances down the line, the 26-year-old still isn’t anywhere near good enough. His lack of assurance on the ball, poor delivery and non-existent decision-making made him an accident waiting to happen. Luckily, Allegri has finally seen the light and shipped him off on loan to Fulham.
Urby was never going to show the football acumen of a Zvonimir Boban or could control the game like Clarence Seedorf.
Mott is judging Emanuelson against standards that he was never going to live up to because he was expected to be a squad player, who started here and there.
The move to Fulham is an A+ decision because Urby's up-tempo approach to the game is perfect for the Premier League.
He is technically superb, is tricky and makes direct passes without giving away the ball like Antonio Cassano.
Believe it or not, Emanuelson's incisive passing stats ranked pretty well in the UEFA Champions League this season.
A = assist/s; SCPG = shots created per game; P% = passing percentage
Nancy Loanee at Saint-Etienne
A = assist/s; SCPG = shots created per game; P% = passing percentage; C% = crossing percentage
Mollo fell out with Jean Fernandez at Nancy, which facilitated the loan to Saint-Etienne.
Meanwhile, Fernandez resigned and the club also loss promising left-back Massadio Haidara to Newcastle United.
Yohan is arguably the best crosser in the world and has such a gunslinger mentality in that he creates chance after chance for his teammates.
He does turn the ball over a lot but Mollo's attitude is high risk, high reward.
If he can be more consistent, improve his passing efficiency and be more productive, then he'll be a transfer target for Premier League clubs in the summer.
Scouts will be concentrating on him, Kurt Zouma and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
It will be also interesting to see how Michael Laudrup's son, Andreas, does on loan at ASSE.
Paris Saint-Germain Loanee at Toulouse
Igor Mladenović documented Adrien Rabiot's struggles to find acceptance in England during a short-stay with Manchester City (via In Bed With Maradona):
Adrien Rabiot quickly got noticed for his passing range and composure on the ball and was offered a six-year contract at Manchester City in 2005, another club on the cusp of proceeding to major, Arab-financed overhauls.
But he only stays for six months, leaving England with the feeling of being misunderstood by his team-mates and coaching staff, played in the wrong positions and asked the wrong instructions.
Watching him play, it is easy to understand why he would have failed to impress the English youth coaches. Hardly a physical presence despite his height, Rabiot is not one for adrenaline-filled challenges on the ball when an attacking midfielder comes his way.
His positioning and tactical awareness usually make up for a natural tendency not to enter tackles, one on which he has however put a lot of emphasis in recent months.
Rabiot is graceful and his movement off the ball is exceptional for a 17-year-old, hence why Carlo Ancelotti promoted the teenager into the first team.
Even before the club started negotiating with David Beckham, Adrien was frustrated with his lack of playing—which goes to show how determined he is to make it big.
Most 17-year-olds would be content with a little bit of playing time plus bench warming duties for the first team—not Rabiot.
Adrien won't be displacing Etienne Didot, who played like Xavi in the 4-0 loss to PSG.
Etienne Capoue is the heart and soul of TFC.
Starting for Toulouse is probable for Rabiot because Pantxi Sirieix is a modest footballer and Al-Hilal loanee Adil Hermach is in the same boat as Adrien, on a temporary deal.
Barcelona Loanee at Ajax
The Dutch club have signed Barça players in the past: Oleguer, Gabri García and Danny Muller.
So, it's not incomprehensible that Isaac Cuenca is at Ajax until the end of the season, especially when you factor in the Blaugrana buying Ajax players like Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens, Richard Witschge, the De Boer brothers and Jari Litmanen.
Giving up a bright prospect like Cuenca—albeit temporarily—is an act of good will to Ajax—maybe. It's the start of a partnership where the Barça players that aren't starters are loaned out to Ajax.
In return, Barcelona hope to have access to Ajax players, who have the potential to don the Blaugrana shirt, a la Christian Eriksen, Viktor Fischer and the next generation of Ajax players.
Manager Frank de Boer, who played five seasons with the Catalonian club, may feel compelled to start Isaac.
If this is the case, it shows the club doesn't envision Derk Boerrigter, Jody Lukoki and Tobias Sana being long-term options.
Boerrigter is just an Eredivisie-standard player, nothing special.
Lukoki is pacey but has a habit of making wrong choices in front of the goal.
Sana scored three times and created a goal in his first three games but hasn't done much since.
Surely, there's some kid from Jong Ajax or the A1 setup that has raw potential...right?
If this isn't the case, then it reinforces the notion that Ajax's academy is living on past reputation.
For me, Feyenoord's academy is better than Ajax in recent memory (emphasis on the word recent, not saying historically).
Jordy Clasie (21), Tonny Vilhena (18), Bruno Martins Indi (20), Terence Kongolo (18) and Stefan de Vrij (21) are standouts.
Though I am bit hazy about De Vrij, but Clasie, Vilhena and BMI will be moving onto bigger and better things sooner rather than later.
If Kongolo can recover from his long-term injury, he could be a beast at the back.
The Varkenoord have also lost Kyle Ebecilio (18) to Arsenal, Nathan Aké (17) to Chelsea and Karim Rekik (18) to Manchester City.
Do you know which club Robin van Persie came from? Feyenoord.
Of the Dutch teenagers who dominated the 2011 U-17 Euros, six were with the Feyenoord academy.
UEFA.com's Golden Player Ebecilio was registered as a Gunner, but he's a Feyenoord boy, so technically it's seven Feyenoord talents compared to the two Ajax players (one was a backup keeper and the other a reserve forward).
Perhaps, Barcelona should start building a relationship with Feyenoord.
Real Madrid Loanee at Borussia Dortmund
Since moving back to BVB, Nuri hasn't walked back into the starting XI, playing a combined 19 minutes in wins over Werder Bremen and Nürnberg.
Ilkay Gündogan has improved tenfold and is an important member of Klopp's first team.
Sebastian Kehl and Sven Bender are fighting for that other pivot position.
Then there's also Moritz Leitner waiting in the wings.
You just wonder how much Şahin regrets signing with Real Madrid.
Last month, I made the case that Nuri Şahin overestimated his potential impact at Real Madrid (via B/R):
Şahin was the cog in Jürgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund on route to the manager's first Bundesliga triumph.
By the end of the 2010-11 season, Nuri was WhoScored's highest rated player, kicker's third best Bundesliga footballer and Bild's equal fourth ranked player of the season.
He achieved these accolades whilst missing the last eight Matchdays due to knee ligament damage.
To think this was the same player who was rendered obsolete by former manager Thomas Doll.
In the space of several years, Şahin went from doubting his ability as a BVB player to entertaining the realistic idea of playing for a more prestigious club like Real Madrid.
There's a line Nuri gives to The Sun's Antony Kastrinakis which resonates with the Turk's decision to sign with Real Madrid: "Agents rang up every day and promised to sell me to God and every club in the world."
To put the quote in context, this was prior to him becoming an established star.
As he watched his teammates secure the Bundesliga title, he began to buy the bill of goods sold by people whose interests were in themselves, not Nuri's long-term future.
Şahin had leeway to fail with Dortmund should his knees give way, which they did twice at Real Madrid, but José Mourinho didn't have the same affection for the midfielder as Klopp and Bert van Marwijk did.
Şahin would have been 14 years old when an unhappy Flávio Conceição, the €26 million man from Real Madrid, arrived at the Westfalenstadion on a loan stint.
A decade later, Şahin finds himself in a similar situation to Conceição.