Premier League starlets reap loan benefits


Understandably, yesterday's FA Cup fifth round headlines were taken by Chelsea's disappointing draw against Birmingham and Arsenal's defeat to Sunderland.

With Leicester City also producing a shock at Norwich City, it's not surprising that Bolton's 2-0 win at Millwall went relatively under the radar.

Owen Coyle’s side forgot their Premier League troubles, and booked their place in the sixth round of the competitions with a comfortable win at the Den.

The Trotters were boosted by an early goal, and it came from Japanese sensation Ryo Miyaichi; on loan at the Reebok Stadium from Arsenal.

The teenager made a high-profile move to the Emirates Stadium last January, and was instantly loaned out to Dutch side Feyenoord, where he made a massive impact in the Eredivisie.

On return to the Gunners, manager Arsene Wenger included the former Chūkyōdai Chūkyō High School starlet in his pre-season activities, but in-truth senior chances were never going to come for the 19-year-old, aside from the odd Carling Cup outing of course.

When the January transfer window came around once again last month, interest in the player was unsurprising, and it was Bolton who got the seal of approval from Wenger, and not for the first time.

The Gunners have enjoyed previous success when loaning a player in Lancashire of course, with Jack Wilshere developing his skills during the 2009-10 season. His absence through injury this term has been massively felt in north London.

Wenger currently has 18 players away from the club on loan, with Emmanuel Frimpong, Henri Lansbury, Chuks Aneke, Kyle Bartley and Joel Campbell amongst the younger players benefiting from senior football elsewhere.

Other top clubs have got in on the loan act, with Chelsea also putting their faith in Bolton last season as Daniel Sturridge burst onto the Premier League stage. His performances earned a return to Stamford Bridge in the summer and a regular first team role this season.

Josh McEachran, a player many believe has an international future with England, made the switch to Swansea in January, and Andre Villas-Boas will be hoping he follows in Sturridge’s footsteps under Brendan Rodgers.

Goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois appears destined to become a star in the future too, and has been in inspiring form for Atletico Madrid after joining the Blues during the summer transfer window.

Manchester United aren’t afraid to let players learn their trade away from home either, with two integral first team players – Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley – earning their stripes at Sunderland and Wigan in the last few seasons.

Indeed, Sir Alex Ferguson appears to utilise a policy that sees his young players spend time at lower-league clubs first, and then make the step-up to the Premier League as a finishing school before getting their chance at Old Trafford.

Of the original ‘big four’, it’s Liverpool who appear to use the loan system less for young players and more to balance the books. Joe Cole and Alberto Aquilani are two high-profile players who are currently plying their trade away from Anfield. Both are on sizable wages, and making an impression in France and Italy respectively.

That’s not to say that the Reds aren’t trying though, with Jonjo Shelvey making an impact at Blackpool and then returning to be in the first team fold over a short period of time this season.

Danny Wilson is also impressing with the Tangerines, and big things are expected of the former Rangers starlet after a less than inspiring start to life on Merseyside. A spell in the Championship could be the confidence boost he needs.

The club’s most promising young player, Raheem Sterling, has been shielded from a spell away from the club thus far though, and it remains to be seen if Kenny Dalglish will let any of the talented academy crop earn their stripes elsewhere first.

Tottenham Hotspur have also got senior players, such as Steven Pienaar, playing away from White Hart Lane, but Steven Caulker’s spell at Swansea and Kyle Naughton’s at Norwich are likely to be the most exciting for the club’s fans.

Harry Kane, Tom Carroll, John Bostock, Andros Townsend and Yago Falque are also amongst the players testing their abilities in the Football League, and the future looks very bright under Harry Redknapp – if he can resist the lure of England of course.

And then there is Manchester City, who last week sent Abdul Razak and Gai Assulin to Brighton. Much is expected of both, and Roberto Mancini has also seen an opportunity to use the loan market to his advantage.

All of the Premier League’s big-boys are hoping for the same results that came with Wilshere, Cleverley, Sturridge and Welbeck, and their progression away from parent clubs has also proved a major help to England on the international stage – all four of the aforementioned are in contention for Euro 2012 starts.

McEachran is another who could break onto the senior international stage for the Three Lions, but the most exciting youngster away from his club at the current time has to be Miyaichi.

The young Asian winger will be hoping to prove his worth, and at the same time show that the loan market has plenty of legs for every club.

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