While exorbitant transfer fees and deadline day drama have come to represent the transfer window for most soccer fans, it is the often unheralded, unsexy business of loan deals that make up much of a club’s overall business. Everton in particular have been relatively effective in their loan business in recent years, with the 2013-14 season-long loan of a young Romelu Lukaku and this year’s duo of Andre Gomes and Kurt Zouma, from Barcelona and Chelsea, respectively, standing out as successes.
Loans are a two-way street, however, and as much as fans love to see their club bringing players in, temporarily players out to clubs across the continent is equally as important in building towards a long-term model of success. Not all loan players are equal though, as they often fall into three broad categories of why the club wants to to loan them out: clearing wages, seeking experience/playing time, and extraneous circumstances.
In all, Everton are third in the Premier League with 13 players out on loan, two behind city-rivals Liverpool but still less than half as much as the runaway leaders in that category, Chelsea, who have 29 players currently loaned out across Europe. Disregarding Kieran Dowell and Mason Holgate, who were loaned out in the beginning of January to West Brom and Sheffield United, here is a mid-season update on the 11 players Everton sent out on loan over the summer.
Young Experience Seekers
Nikola Vlasic – 21 – CAM: CSKA Moscow – Russian Premier Liga
Shani Tarashaj – 23 – CAM: Grasshoppers – Swiss Super League
Muhamed Besic – 26 – CDM: Middlesbrough – English Championship
Luke Garbutt – 25 – LB: Oxford United – English League One
Matthew Pennington – 24 – CB: Ipswich – English Championship
These five players, ranging from that have been around the first team for years like Garbutt to hyper-talented recent purchases like Vlasic, are all loaned out so they can get some consistent playing time to either prove themselves as worthy for Marco Silva’s first team or for a future permanent transfer.
The unequivocal star of this group has been the Croatian Vlasic, who Ronald Koeman brought in after impressing against Everton for Hajduk Split in the Europa league qualification round in 2017. The subsequent turnover in the manager position led to the youngster falling down the pecking order in the squad, but Vlasic has managed to flip the narrative by excelling for Moscow this season, netting 7 goals and 4 assists across 20 domestic and European appearances for the Russian powerhouse so far.
On the other end of the spectrum, Swiss midfielder Tarashaj, having been loaned out to his boyhood club in Zurich for the second time in three seasons, has amassed just 83 total minutes of playtime and will almost surely be let go when his contract expires in June this year.
Besic, Garbutt, and Pennington round out the youngsters, and they’ve all been steady presences for their lower league sides, with each player making at least 23 appearances for their respective clubs so far this season. The Bosnian Besic has had the most success of the bunch, as he’s added 2 goals and 2 assists to his usual defensive ferocity in the midfield for Middlesbrough, who currently sit in a playoff spot for promotion.
Wage Clearing Veterans
Cuco Martina – 29 – RB/LB: Stoke City – English Championship
Ashley Williams – 34 – CB: Stoke City – English Championship
Yannick Bolasie – 29 – LW/RW: Aston Villa – English Championship
This next group of players have all played important first team roles for Everton in the last few seasons, but due to age and declining form were deemed surplus to requirements by new manager Marco Silva this past summer.
Martina and Williams, both on-loan at Stoke City, have been consistently underwhelming for the Potters this season, with both players combining for 43 appearances for the mid-table outfit while racking up just as many derisory remarks about their bloated contracts and poor performances along the way.
Similarly, Yannick Bolasie, just two years removed from earning a $30 million transfer from Crystal Palace, has been so-so for Villa this season, averaging a goal/assist every 128 minutes across 20 appearances thus far. The Congolese international has been called out by the Birmingham club’s fans for his wasteful dribbling and his poor final ball, both issues that plagued his time at Everton over the last two seasons.
Sandro Ramirez – 23 – FW: Real Sociedad – La Liga
Kevin Mirallas – 31 – RW: Fiorentina – Serie A
Henry Onyekuru – 21 – LW: Galatasaray – Süper Lig
These last three players aren’t exactly youngsters sent out in need of playing time but also aren’t veterans sitting on expensive contracts, and thus they get their own category at the end.
The least successful of this trio has been Sandro Ramirez, who is currently nursing a hamstring injury after sitting on the bench for Sociedad for the majority of the season. The once-promising Spaniard was brought in on the cheap from Malaga to help fill in the Lukaku shaped hole in the number nine position, but struggled to adapt to the physicality of the Premier League and has since been loaned back to Spain twice in an effort to raise his value back.
Over in Italy, Belgian winger Kevin Mirallas has served as an veteran presence for a young Fiorentina side, albeit only scoring 2 goals in 14 appearances for the club thus far. After a fall out with Everton stemming back to a penalty-kick stealing fiasco in 2015, Mirallas reportedly began to fall out of love with football, proclaiming that he didn’t see a future for himself at Everton. (La Gazzetta dello Sport) In turn, Mirallas has since been sent out to Greece and now Florence in search of greener pastures.
Last, but certainly not least, is the young winger Henry Onyekuru, who has yet to make an appearance for Everton since his 2017 transfer due to issues with obtaining a work permit for him to play in England. Due to this, Everton immediately loaned the Nigerian international to Anderlecht, where he scored 10 goals for the Belgian side. After again failing to obtain legal permission to work in England, Everton loaned him out to Galatasaray, where the talented winger has so far bagged 6 goals for the Turkish giants.