I bet there must be tonnes of guides and references on grooming players by loaning them out and I should know since I have probably read most of them during my time with CM/FM series. However, I have never touched it in more detail myself. I think I have mentioned my loan strategies here and there, but maybe this time I try to put all the eggs in the same basket and see how it comes together. With this piece, I seek to narrow down the philosophy I use while I am loaning young players out.
I feel that there is quite a lot of virtual managers that overlook the use of loaning out players as a tool to groom yourself an asset and in this case, by asset I mean a player that is either going to be a member of your first team or a money option. One might wonder the reasons why this is overlooked, but I think one of the most common ones is the losing of control over the player’s development on a daily basis. People usually like to keep the golden eggs close and hatch them with love and care every day until the golden Cristiano Ronaldo pops out or in some more unfortunate cases, it proves out to be the bronze one with the weird face.
While it might be entertaining for me to keep typing metaphorical nonsense here, I think that this space is best served by laying out the strategy how I loan players out or how I even come to the conclusion that somebody is best to be shipped somewhere else. Also, this is a perfect time to mention that I mostly engage these things while managing bigger clubs. On the smaller ones, I am usually the one that is loaning people to keep my nose above the water level.
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How, when and why??
The issue with managing a bigger club is usually that the expectations are also bigger, the board is a way shorter tempered, and in general, you can´t get away with things that easily. In other words, the game is harder, and you don´t necessarily have time or opportunities to slowly introduce your youth to the first team without risking your place as a manager in the long run. You have to have your players in place for your A-game at all times. So knowing this you start to wonder if your youth could already carry somewhere on the lower levels of competitive football and by that could grow to bigger duties and responsibilities on a pace that is suited for them and for the most part this is the question I am wondering on my youth players because I rarely get the gems that are easier for you to decide what to do. Also, you have to remember that youth football will only get you to the point where you can look at your prospects and decide if you are going to have any use for them in the long run at all. The most important thing for youth players is the first team exposure. You can have the greatest facilities and the most prestigious youth coaching but without first team exposure that is mostly in vain. I personally feel that loaning out a careful selection of youth prospects usually turns out with good results and I prefer doing it instead of rotating a youth player on my first team. Sometimes I get my hands on such a beast that their rotation minutes can be ramped up and loaning out is not needed for the exposure.
As I am sure that Guido has covered the art of growing your youth and what you need for it with multiple posts here already, I just jump straight to the moment when I start considering if a player should go out on loan and what are we looking for with loaning him out. For the most part, my loanees are 18 or older, I rarely loan out younger players, but there are occasions that it has happened, but usually, I keep them in for tutoring and PPMs before loaning them out. Good time to start moving these players is when you feel that you can use them in some role, no matter how small in your first team. This is usually the cue for me to start looking for teams.
The are two reasons I have for loaning out youth players:
- The player has substantial potential to be in the first team for the long term but is not ready for carrying duty yet and needs to have that sort of experience on a level that is suitable.
- The player lacks the potential to be in the long term plans for the first team, or I can´t use them for any purposes regarding my tactics or philosophy. However, they still have the potential to be a major league player somewhere else and therefore can be used as an investment.
For the youth that I consider to be potentially useful for my plans, I have sketched out a path to follow. Usually, this means that player is loaned out to a lower league or a foreign league with less prestige than the one I am playing. For Example Italy ->Switzerland. The things I am looking for is First Team playing role, which is preferably a role I am planning on for the player on my team, good training facilities and if possible decent coaching team. Naturally, I try to find a club in their native country which is the best option but not always available to us. I drop in fees to be paid if the player is unused which usually encourages the loaning teams to use the player to full advantage.
For the piggy bank option, I also try to find them a team that plays them the first team, plays their preferred role, has certain levels of facilities and coaches and is also interested in acquiring the player for themselves after loan. This sometimes works, but usually, I get better fees selling these players when they return to my club. Native country, forcing fees to play the player of course if possible.
Now that I have outlined my strategies at some level it is time to meet the contestants for this experiment I guess. First one is considered as a future first team player and actually played in a rotational role in the first team last season. Due to some changes in tactics and my roles, he was better off to go and play a key role on another team. Meet Gerson as he is shown here at the start of my save before the limited first season action.
As you can see while he is useful in a limited role, there are issues with the mental side of things here. Concentration, Determination and Positioning are his weak points. Now, if we were a team playing with a high octane kegelpressing tactics, he would be listed out pretty soon. He still might be even with my current philosophies but this was his starting point in the summer of 2016.
After spending the initial first season with us and in Braga Portugal, he was loaned out to his native Fluminese in 2017 which offered us a key player role, preferred position (MC) and a decent amount of salary covered. Around 880k of the 1.47 m, he was due. I really wanted him to go to FLU so I dropped extra fees since he was labelled as a key player anyway.
More of a reasonable money option for starters was Marco Tumminello, an aggressive striker with already decent pressing stats at the age of 17. As he turned 18, he was going to go for a loan being pretty low on the ladder in my strike-force.
While not considered to be in the first team at first glance, these guys can creep on you and surprise. So a good way to go is to put them on loan in a bigger role to see what they got. What we found for Marco was Charleroi from the bottom of Belgium´s Jupiler Pro League. A key role promise and preferred position (STR) was a good deal for us so we chose not to deplete their short funds with any extra fees about appearances.
I would figure that both of these players will spend maybe a couple of seasons on loan after we get back to the final and decisive judgment. I´ll get back to you when that time is due.