Ranking the 7 most legendary EFL loan moves
With on-loan Swindon striker Eoin Doyle netting his 17th goal in 16 apperances last weekend, we look at the best ever borrowed players in the EFL.
7 – Eoin Doyle (Swindon)
Having inspired this list with his ridiculous goalscoring form at Swindon, the man who has been nicknamed ‘Ginger Pele’ is worthy of his place.
But, given that he is just three months into a season-long deal, it’s difficult to put him any higher than this.
Doyle was relegated from League One with Bradford City last season and, as one of the club’s top earners, they wanted him out.
He joined Swindon midway through August and, after his match-winning strike against Mansfield last weekend, has now bagged 17 league goals in 16 appearances.
That makes him the top scorer in England’s top four divisions, with more goals this season than Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo combined.
His latest strike helped to maintain Swindon’s position at the top of League Two, while his parent club are six points behind and still paying a portion of his wages.
That’s got to sting.
6 – Wojciech Szczesny (Brentford)
These days, Szczesny is challenging Gianluigi Buffon for the No. 1 jersey at Juventus but, 10 years ago, he was making his first steps in football at Brentford.
The Polish goalkeeper joined the Bees aged just 19 in November 2009, having never made a senior appearance.
It was only supposed to be a month-long loan deal, but his performances soon convinced the club to keep him for the rest of the season.
“It has reached a stage where when he lets in a goal, we wonder why he hasn’t saved it,” said manager Andy Scott of him after impressing in a goalless draw with Bristol Rovers in April 2010.
Such was the impression he made during his stint at Griffin Park, Szczesny was named in Brentford’s Team of the Decade in 2015, despite making just 28 appearances for the club.
5 – Paul Gallagher (Preston)
Tea and biscuits, chips and gravy and Paul Gallagher and Preston. Some things are just made for each other.
Gallagher initially joined Preston on loan in the 2007/08, having struggled for game time at Premier League side Blackburn.
He played 19 times and scored once during that spell, but it wasn’t until six years on that relationship between club and player really blossomed.
The Scot rejoined North End in 2013/14 after their relegation to League One and stayed on loan until the end of the following season, which culminated with Preston winning promotion.
He finally made his move permanent the summer after they went back up to the Championship, having already made 113 appearances.
Quite the engagement.
4 – Matej Vydra (Watford)
When Vydra arrived on the same day as four other season-long loans from Udinese and Granada – the other two clubs owned by the Pozzo family, who had recently taken over at Watford – few knew what to make of it.
The 19-year-old had only played three senior games outside the Czech Republic and had scored seven career goals at the start of 2012/13.
But Hornets fans were in for a treat.
Vydra top-scored for Watford with 22 goals in 37 appearances in all competitions, helping them reach a play-off final against Crystal Palace.
They were beaten by an extra-time penalty, but Vydra was still named the Championship Player of the Season.
3 – Tammy Abraham (Aston Villa)
He came, he scored, he won promotion.
Abraham arrived at Aston Villa for the 2018/19 season with previous, having netted 26 goals while on loan at Bristol City two seasons before.
And, while he could only match that total, his season in Birmingham was even more impressive.
Abraham didn’t play a first-team game for Villa until midway through September but was still able to reach 26 goals in just 40 matches – eight fewer than it took with Bristol City.
During his time with the club, Abraham became the first Villa player to score 25 goals in a season since Andy Gray in 1977, and was also named in the PFA Championship Team of the Year.
He capped the season off by winning promotion back to the top flight at Wembley after helping the club beat Derby 2-1.
2 – Jimmy Glass (Carlisle)
Picture the scene.
League Two Carlisle are drawing 1-1 at home to Plymouth in the final game of the 1998/99 season – a match they need to win to avoid relegation to non-league.
There’s a minute to go and, after a long punt upfield, the hosts have a corner.
On-loan goalkeeper Glass is making just his third appearance for the club, having joined from Swindon late in the season after they lost No. 1 Richard Knight to injury.
Along with the rest of the Carlisle team, he makes his way into the box. It’s now or never.
After striker Scott Dobie’s initial header from the corner is parried, the ball falls to Glass.
He volleys into the bottom-left corner. Carlisle survive. Pandemonium.
The goal came seventh in The Times’ ‘50 Most Important Goals in Football History’, while it was also listed among Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Ever Sporting Moments.
Glass has since said it’s a moment that ‘belongs to football’, and its impact is enough to earn him second place on this list.
1 – Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham)
It’s not often an against-the-clock deadline-day signing has much of an impact at the club he joins.
Rushed decisions and a lack of due diligence can often mean they make little to no impression.
But Mitrovic bucked that trend.
The striker joined Fulham on loan from Newcastle in February 2018 after a Snapchat conversation with Slavisa Jokanovic and fired them to the Premier League.
He had been in discussions with Bordeaux, Middlesbrough and Anderlecht throughout deadline day before Jokanovic sent a sneaky message to Mitrovic, saying that he was waiting for the striker’s potential moves to collapse.
“It’s your lucky day,” was the response he received, and the deal to join Fulham was done by 23:45.
He ended up netting 12 goals in 20 appearances for the Cottagers, helping them to win the play-offs after beating Villa 1-0 at Wembley.
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