Over the years, football’s transfer market has never failed to flabbergast fans with some extremely unconventional signings. Right from Luis Figo’s controversial move from Barcelona to Real Madrid, to Thomas Gravesen’s dazzling switch to the Galacticos from Everton, fans have been bystanders to some of the most astounding decisions ever made.
Speaking of transfers, now that the global pandemic is likely to affect the business side of football, it is expected that the clubs will look to bring players on loan rather than splashing bucketloads of cash.
Then again, bringing in quality on loan has not always been a fruitful decision at the first time of asking, and having said that, we look at five top players who were involved in failed loan deals in the past.
Radamel Falcao (From Monaco to Manchester United in 2014/15 and Chelsea in 2015/16)
Louis van Gaal’s arrival in Manchester United brought several changes in the first team. As he was keen on removing the deadwood, the signings he made were top-notch, to say the least. And amongst the lot was a certain Radamel Falcao, who arrived on the back of scoring 15 goals in 33 league appearances for Monaco in Ligue 1.
Given that United were yearning for a 20-goal-a-season striker, Falcao made headlines. The signing not only made him a high-profile arrival but also made him one of the highest earners at the club, pocketing a reported £265,000 a week.
For United, it was always going to be a gamble given that he was recovering from a severe anterior cruciate ligament injury which led to him missing the 2014 FIFA World Cup. By the end of the campaign, Falcao had just four goals in 29 games under his belt, and thus, United opted against making his move permanent.
Despite his failures in the league though, Chelsea decided to bring him on at Stamford Bridge (on loan) for the 2015/16 season. But consistent injuries limited him to just 10 league appearances, and a solitary goal to his name was enough to send him back to Monaco in 2016.
Gonzalo Higuain (From Juventus to AC Milan in 2018/19)
When Cristiano Ronaldo made his famed move to Juventus in 2018, The Old Lady decided to send their star striker, Gonzalo Higuain on loan to AC Milan. And although the deal was for the entirety of the season, it was cut short in January after he had scored just six times in the league in 15 appearances.
A veteran of Serie A was thus sent to England in January that season, where he joined forces with his former manager Maurizio Sarri at Chelsea on loan. And once again, he only managed a handful of goals before returning to Juventus when Sarri took over.
Tiemoue Bakayoko (From Chelsea to AC Milan in 2018/19)
After impressing one and all with his exemplary display in Monaco’s title-winning season, midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko moved to Chelsea in 2017, becoming their second-most expensive signing at the time. In his very first season in England though, he failed to impress the fans as well as the manager after putting in inconsistent displays.
Eventually, in August 2018, he was shipped to Italy to join AC Milan on loan. Playing under Gennaro Gattuso, the midfielder continued his poor run of form, prompting the club legend to voice his frustration out in the open.
"Bakayoko has to learn how to get the ball," Gattuso said. "We must work correctly. It will not be easy."
"One week is not enough to remove the defects of a player. I would have preferred to be managing older, more experienced club players."
His tenure was not only marred by poor performances but he was also subjected to racial abuse by the Lazio fans. By the end of the 2018/19 season, the midfielder moved back to Monaco on loan after making 31 league appearances and with a solitary goal to his name.
Denis Suarez (From Barcelona to Arsenal)
Once tipped for greatness, former Manchester City prodigy Denis Suarez made serious headlines following his loan move to Arsenal from Barcelona in January 2019. The Gunners, who were in dire need of some creative outlay, signed him for six months despite his fitness issues.
Given his limitations, he never made any sort of impact and moved back to Barcelona after playing just six times and failing to score for Arsenal. Recalling his time with the London club, Suarez said:
“At the end of the game (against FC BATE Borisov) I thought that I had torn my groin and they did a scan and saw that I had oedema [a buildup of fluid] on the bone in my pelvis,” he said.
“I thought I had torn something; I was in a lot of pain. And from then on I carried on training with medication and putting up with it as best I could but I didn’t feel right and [Unai] Emery didn’t think I was right. I wasn’t comfortable. I don’t think I was even at 50 percent. After 15 days of being at Arsenal, I wasn’t right. From the 16th, I wasn’t even at 50 percent.”
Renato Sanches (From Bayern Munich to Swansea City in 2017/18)
After being named as the Golden Boy in 2016, Portugal’s Renato Sanches began to attract heavy interest from the likes of Manchester United, but the then young prodigy decided to move to Bayern Munich instead.
After a subpar 2016/17 Bundesliga season, Sanches was shipped to Swansea City on loan to revive his career. Sanches, right from his first game of the Premier League, failed to impress the fans. He went on to make 15 appearances in all competitions for the club, starting just nine games and playing the full 90 minutes on only four occasions. During his time, he was involved in a solitary goal and an assist in a 2-0 win over Reading in the League Cup.
“It was not my choice to go to Swansea. I was forced to go there,” he told L’Équipe about his time in the league.
“I didn’t want to go. I have respect for the club, the players, all the people I met there. I appreciated their humility.”
He moved back to Munich in the subsequent season and now finds himself playing for Lille in Ligue 1.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Oli Scarff, Geoff Caddick
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