We’ve all been there. You wake up in the morning to exciting news that your club just signed an 18-year-old wonderkid! You desperately spend the day watching highlights on YouTube and tell all your friends how you’ve always rated him.
Then, all of a sudden, the club decided to let him go out on loan to an obscure third division Dutch team…
Each team has a different philosophy when it comes to loaning out players, however; there are two dominant reasons. First, the team might want the player to gain experience by sending the player to a team who can afford to offer him consistent minutes. Secondly, the team might simply be looking to make a profit from the player’s development over the loan period.
Now this begs some questions – which players actually benefited the most from a loan move? Which players were hurt the most? Did they end up back at their home team after loan spell or did they sell him for a profit?
In order to answer those, we can look at the biggest hits and misses in the English Premier League over the past few years. Since what constitutes a “hit” or a “miss” is different for each position and player, we will be using one simple metric to evaluate the effectiveness of the loan: the change in market value for a player before and after the loan.
Click on the image to go interactive
Let’s take a look at which players in the EPL had the highest increases in market value from the beginning of the loan to end of the loan. Above is a chart I made which helps visualize this data. Click the image to go interactive, and hover over each player to look at clubs, dates, and market values of each player. The size of the bubbles represent the increase in market value (ending market value – starting market value) in millions of Euros.
Looking at this data, we can see a few players that stand out. Thibaut Courtois stands out as the player with the highest increase in value after his three-year loan spell from Chelsea to Atlético Madrid. Arriving at Chelsea in 2011, Courtois was sent out on loan within weeks. At Madrid, he was given the number 13 shirt – which had previously been worn by the now departed David De Gea. After four consecutive clean sheets, Courtois was made the starting goal keeper and never looked back. According to transfermarkt, Courtois’s market value went from €4 million to a stunning €25 million, resulting in a €21 million increase in market value.
Other notable players are Carlos Tevez and Andres Christensen, who all saw a large increase in market value from their loan spells. After the transfer saga of 2007 with West Ham, Carlos Tevez went on a two-year loan to Manchester United where he netted 19 goals in 63 appearances. Andres Christensen, a bright spot in Chelsea’s 37 man loan army, saw a huge increase due to impressive debut season and was awarded Bourussia Mönchengladbach’s 2015 Player of the Season award over captain Granit Xhaka.
So, a lot of players in the EPL definitely benefited from a loan move…but what about the flops?
Click on the image to go interactive
Here we have a chart of EPL player loan moves that were the worst in terms of market value development. Click the image to interact with the data and hover over each player for more information.
From this data, we can see a few players that stand out – Michael Essien, Lukas Podolski, and Falcao to name a few.
It pains me to label Essien as a flop. Growing up, he was one of my favorite players to watch. However, according to transfermarkt data – Essien’s season long loan move from Chelsea to Real Madrid, where he was reunited with former manager Jose Mourinho, saw a decline in market value from €25 million to just €10 million. Essien’s value continued to decline as one year later he signed for Milan. Does this mean Essien is a failed player? Absolutely not – age is a variable not accounted for in this data. This data visualization is aimed at younger players who went out on loan to prove themselves – Michael Essien is an outlier.
Lukas Podolski’s situation is similar to Essien. Podolski, a World Cup winner in 2015, was upset with is lack of playing time at Arsenal in the 2014-15 season. He joined Inter on loan in January, but there he was met with the same problem. After losing out on a roster spot for the Europa League (Mancini stating he preferred Shaqiri over Podolski), he later signed for Galatasaray that summer where he has scored an impressive 16 goals in 29 appearances.
Lastly, we need to talk about Falcao. Falcao was one of the most promising talents in the world, scoring an unreal 52 goals in 68 appearances at Atlético before moving to Monaco and continuing his impressive form. On September 1st, 2014, Falcao signed with Manchester United on loan for one of the worst loan spells in recent history. Whether it was his agent Jorge Mendes making controversial statements or Falcao being publicly demoted to the U21 team – Falcao only managed to score 4 goals in 29 appearances. United decided to not renew his contract, which saw the Colombian go out on loan to Chelsea where the problems continued. This whole period saw Falcao’s market value drop from €55 million to €45 million.
However, it’s not all gloom for Falcao. After returning to Monaco this season, Falcao recently scored a hat-trick in a 4-0 win against Bordeaux . This improved his record to 10 goals in just 579 minutes of play, giving him a solid average of 58 minutes per league goal.
TL;DR: it depends
Harry Truman once said, “My favorite type of economists are one-handed economists” since economists love to say “it depends” or “on one hand…on the other hand…” This case is similar.
Each player’s situation is unique. The charts help visualize the data in an attractive, pleasing manner as opposed to random numbers on an excel sheet.
One fascinating find from this visualization is that Emmanuel Adebayor in on both charts! His situation could be described as a zero-sum game – both moves cancel each other out. According to transfermarkt data, his loan move from Man City to Real Madrid in January 2011 saw his value drop from €23 million to €17 million, and his loan move from Man City to Spurs in Summer 2011 saw the value go back up to €23 million following an impressive 17 goals in the 2011-12 season – which earned him a permanent move to Spurs.
I hope the data visualizations helped illustrate the impact of a loan move on recent EPL players’ market value. This is my first time writing and using the data software, so I hope to create much more intricate and detailed visualizations in the future. The goal of this blog is not to be a statistician with overly complicated models and graphs – the goal is to use simple visualization to present already existing data in an easy and interactive manner.