Arsene Wenger, Everton, and the Loan System: What’s the real problem here?

Arsene Wenger, Everton, and the Loan System: What’s the real problem here?


If you put every Premier League manager in the same room and asked for a show of hands to see which of them was an advocate for the current player loan system, you can almost guarantee that Roberto Martinez would have both palms reaching for the ceiling.

It is also of a high probability that Arsene Wenger would not only keep his extremities firmly by his sides but also head straight for the door, slamming it firmly behind him.


The Arsenal manager’s disdain for the current loan system stretches back a few seasons to when Adebayor, on-loan from Manchester City at the time, was helping Tottenham leapfrog Arsenal into a Champions League spot. Fortunately for Wenger, it just so transpired that Tottenham and Arsenal both qualified for Europe’s most prestigious tournament that season and, for Wenger, the natural order of football was maintained.

It is Deja vu for the Frenchman this season though as Everton have been hot on Arsenal’s heels since the New Year in pursuit of the final Champions League qualifying position, and once again Wenger has decided to ignite a debate about the fairness of the loan system.


Wenger’s main sticking point is the fact that loan players are not allowed, under the current system, to play against their parent club. This has been the case a few times this season with the likes of Everton’s Romelu Lukaku and Gareth Barry being ineligible to play against title contenders Chelsea and Manchester City respectively.

Earlier this month Wenger was quoted as saying, “I believe that if you want to keep the system we have to keep them available against the teams that loaned them out – or the system is not defensible.”

He then went on to state, “It is just a protection of the clubs that loaned the players out to hurt their opponents, when they have no risk at all.”

Would the Arsenal manager have batted an eyelid had loan signings, such as Everton’s, not performed so well and hadn’t made Everton such a threat to the Gunner’s Champions League qualification hopes this season? The answer is, of course, a resounding no.


It is true that the current stipulations preventing players from appearing against their parent clubs is a contentious one.

However, as the rule is universal, Wenger has every right to take advantage of it if he decided to. What’s more, the rule eradicates any moral dilemmas that could arise if the recipient club had to choose whether they should field the player or not.

A hypothetical example of this would be if Lukaku was forced to play against his parent club, Chelsea. The player may feel like he shouldn’t play to the best of his abilities due to his loyalties and future aspirations with the club.

Lukaku then runs the risk of coming under severe scrutiny from his loan club and the media, subsequently bringing his integrity into question. This is an intense amount of pressure for a person to bare, especially for someone who is just twenty years old.

Maybe Wenger’s gripe is purely over the banning of loan players turning out against their parent club’s, but it seems all too coincidental that he recurrently sparks the debate at a time when Arsenal’s Champions League qualification chances are being threatened by another club.


Rather than scrutinizing the loan system, maybe the Arsenal coach should question why there are so many loan signings happening in the first place. If he were to do this then he would quickly realize that a swell in squad sizes is the real issue. The wealthier clubs swallow up the young emerging talent to prevent their rivals from doing the same.

These players are then sent out on loan to gain top flight experience and to avoid stagnating in the reserves. Loaning out players also means that bigger clubs are compliant with the 25 man squad rule.

This would have a huge effect on a team like Chelsea who, in order to obey the squad limit rule, they have had to send twelve players out on loan, three of which to Premier League opposition.

Instead of setting a limit on squad numbers maybe there should be a cap on players registered to the club. Less players affiliated with the club would mean less loan signings. This would then force clubs to choose more wisely about who they sign and how they are utilized.


The loan system really isn’t the problem here. This season has shown, more than any other that has preceded it, that the loan system is a fantastic way for smaller less financially affluent clubs to not only push for Premier League survival but also apply pressure to the bigger teams.

The real issue is that Arsene Wenger feels threatened by Everton and so, instead of concentrating on his own management, he creates a debate about loan signings that shouldn’t exist.

¬†What do you think? Get involved in the comments below…

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  1. What utter nonsense you do talk. If a player can’t play against his parent club then that club gains an advantage; the rich clubs can effectively use this as another way to ‘play’ against their rivals. It is a ‘loan’ to win the prize; morally it is nor comparable with those who use their own money and players.

  2. Interesting that Mr. Powell leaves out the fact that UEFA has ruled that the policy of not playing against your parent club is un-enforceable and not legal. Note both goalkeepers on the pitch in the Chelsea / Athletico UCL tie last week belonged to Chelsea.
    Its a bad policy and unfairly favors the teams with the biggest budgets. They can afford to sign top prospects and then rather than risk playing them for their own team, loan them out to see how they do. No risk, plenty of reward.

  3. I don’t think Wenger is thinking tactically with his objections, and I don’t think he is worried about any clubs who gain players, I think he is worried about the teams that do the loaning out.

    I think he feels that not only do they buy the best team available, but, using the current loan system they can use their unlimited billions to stack the opposition against their rivals as well.

    The clue that gives it away is that he doesn’t say that they should stop loaning players out, just that they should be allowed to play against their club.

    Is that really unreasonable or unfair?

  4. The problem is that this has become a strategy Of some Of the bigger clubs. What’s stopping an immensely rich club from buying all the top players and then loaning them to wherever they see fit? not financial fair play apparently, as it’s been confirmed that that won’t result in any bans from european competition. So why chastise one Of the most successful Managers, and the most experienced manager in the Premier League for having an intelligent and informed opinion on the matter? soccer lens? Should’ve gone to specsavers!

  5. my opinion is scrap loaning of players between clubs that face each other. ie premier league players can only go on loan to championship or below and not against teams they could face in europe

    • I think I would agree with your solution. if loan players are confined to the leagues below then that solves 90% of the problem. Its interesting to note that Chelsea, one of the clubs to loan out players to Everton FC also loaned players to Liverpool and others but refused to do so to Arsenal and Spurs. so if the goal was simply to make them gain experience why block other clubs completely yet allow others the same benefit. It shows there are ulterior motives at play. Chelsea do have that History especially under Mourinho. in his first incarnation they bought key players from any (particularly smaller) clubs which gave his team problems on the pitch and thats how the likes of Shawn Wright Phillips, Scot Parke, Ashley Cole came in. most of these players virtually spend the best years of their careers warming the bench with no prospect of making the first team yet Chelsea were quite happy to keep them!

  6. Wenger is wrong…. That is absolute rubbish. The FA & Premier League are basically allowing wealth to win trophies. The sport has become superfluous to the business.
    1. Loans must not be allowed to the league in which the loaning club belongs.
    2, Loanees must be allowed to play against parent clubs in all other competitions.
    3. Clubs must have a limitation of players in each age (under 16, 18, 21) group to ensure fair competition.
    4. Each loan player can only be loaned for one season (unless there are visa issues) and then must be included in squad or sold.

  7. Mr Writer pls do research nd bring fact ok. Wenger has said nd discuss this issue off loan signing very long long time ago. He was asked the same question when Arsenal was to loan Aliadere 2 a premiership team back then and he said he will not stop the team 4rm playing Him against Arsenal. Why pay #20m for lukaku, stopping Arsenal from buying Him only to loan him out for the 3yrs what’s the gain, nd funny enough will end up selling him @ the End for less than d value paid for. I concur wit the motion of u only loaning ur players outside ur league or lower division nt buying talent nd bench warming then, only to loan them to teams nd use them to fight ur other league opponents.

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