As we head into the final few days of the January transfer window, managers all over Europe will be on the telephone to players agents as they frantically look to add reinforcements to their squads for the second half of the season.
Some would call it “panic buying” – yes Gonzalo Higuain – we’re looking at you, as loan deals are put in place until summer before an option to buy which, in most cases, will be soundly rejected after players fail to impress their prospective new employers.
For every golden nugget there are bad H. Samuel imitations, so join us as we take a look at what we think are five “loan losers”.
1. ABEL TAARABT
Yes, I hear you all scream “but wasn’t he brilliant when he first joined Queens Park Rangers from Spurs in 2009”?
Yes he was, but then the Moroccan midfielder started to lose his way, became fat and seemingly disinterested in displaying his abundant talents any longer after joining The R’s on a permanent deal in 2010.
His salvation looked like being in Italy when AC Milan decided to rescue him from his English nightmare, but the honeymoon period lasted just six months before he was returned to Loftus Road with an even bigger paunch.
For reasons only they can explain, Portuguese giants Benfica decided to take a punt where Taarabt’s appearance column remained blank as he was left to rot in the “stiffs”.
A brief renaissance then happened at Genoa before he returned to Lisbon where at just 29 years of age; he now resides in the Benfica B team.
2. RADAMEL FALCAO
In September 2014, it looked as though Manchester United had pulled off an absolute masterstroke when they convinced Monaco to loan them Colombian goal-scoring machine Radamel Falcao on a season-long deal.
With 14 appearances in the starting XI and just four goals later, the only masterstroke the Red Devils had succeeded in doing was giving their physio more hands on experience as he played a game of real life operation on Falcao, to try to get the player patched up and available for selection.
Only five times during the 2014-15 campaign did Falcao last the 90 minutes, before he was returned to the principality before having another crack at English football with Chelsea, where his appearances in all competitions amounted to 363 minutes and one goal and spent four months sidelined with a groin injury.
3. RAVEL MORRISON
Sir Alex Ferguson once stated that the English midfielder was the “the most skilful young footballer that he’d ever seen.”
Sadly, at the age of just 25, Morrison is currently a free-agent having spent 18 months in Mexico with Club Atlas.
It all started to go wrong for the former England Under-21 star whilst on-loan at Cardiff City from West Ham United, when some well documented off field activities totally derailed his career.
Then Lazio came calling in the summer of 2015; a club with a history of taking a punt on English players with a questionable temperament. You can’t say the club from the Eternal City were not warned and in an initial 18-month spell in Rome, Morrison failed to make a single appearance and his personal demons came back to haunt him when he tried to escape from a club “ritiro”, basically a boot-camp where the squad are punished for poor performances and are not allowed contact with the outside world.
After also being vocal about the lack of tomato ketchup available in the canteen at the club’s Formello training complex, President Claudio Lotito told him to f**k off back to Blighty. So he did; before trying his hand at Mexican club football where, it’s understood, tomato ketchup is far more readily available.
4. DANIEL STURRIDGE
I don’t know about you but if I ever read a host of negative reviews on a certain product, I tend to steer well clear of buying it.
So why, in January of last year, did West Bromwich Albion boss Alan Pardew decide to stake his reputation (and the Baggies Premier League survival) on an England international who could never get through 90 minutes without having to have the next three months off due to injury?
So with that in mind, surely not even Pardew could have been surprised that Sturridge played a total of 116 minutes for the Albion on their way back to the Championship.
The 29-year-old is now back at his parent club Liverpool where once again he is being linked with a possible move away from Merseyside in this window, despite having made 11 appearances this term.
5. MARIO BALOTELLI
“Why always me?” was the slogan Mario Balotelli displayed under his jersey after scoring in Manchester City’s memorable 6-1 derby win at Old Trafford in 2011.
Well Mario, the answer to that question is that because you’re such a loose cannon, no manager is prepared to put up with you on a long-term basis.
After almost burning down his Cheshire mansion by lighting fireworks from a bathroom window, City decided time was up and in January 2013, AC Milan paid them £18M to take the Italian striker back to his homeland.
Of course, this being “Super Mario”, it was only a matter of time before the wheels came off and by the following summer, Balotelli was back in the Premier League at Liverpool.
A year later and he was back in Italy on-loan at wait for it….AC Milan, where he played for 825 minutes in Serie A scoring one league goal.
Balotelli spent three months on the treatment table between October and January, before the Rossoneri said thanks, but no thanks, and returned him to Anfield.
Liverpool took the hit and sent him to Nice on a free transfer and only last week, they dispatched him to Marseille on another free.
Where it all ends is anyone’s guess.