There seems to be a perception in North America that when a player is loaned out to another team, it is comparable to an exile and that the player is no longer in the plans of the original team. While this may be the case some of the time, it is not the case in many situations.
Beginning last season, the Vancouver Whitecaps began to employ the strategy of loaning out young, developing, players to teams outside of North America. In some instances, those loans were short-term or were simply for training opportunities. In other instances, such as that of Erik Hurtado, the loan is for the remainder of the season.
After finding limited playing time last season, and seeming to not desire playing for Whitecaps FC 2, Erik Hurtado was loaned to Norwegian side Mjondalen IF. We did not hear much from him during that loan and it was believed that it was the next step in removing Hurtado from the Whitecaps senior roster. However, Hurtado came back from Norway and has played an important role this season. Moreover, he appears to have found some maturity and drive that was missing prior to his loan. While viewed somewhat negatively by fans prior to his loan, Hurtado has seemed to garner positive feedback from media and fans this season; especially for his work ethic. In fact, many have stated that he provides the same as Rivero without the big paycheck.
After a brief training stint last off-season in England, and failing to overtake Jordan Harvey as the starting left back, Sam Adekugbe was loaned to English Championship (just below the Premier League) side Brighton & Hove Albion FC, until June 2017. It seemed that Sam had plateau with the Whitecaps, unable to get over the hump that many fans had been hoping/predicting. While away, Sam has been playing well and it is possible that the change of scenery could prove beneficial.
Finally, after starting the 2016 season strong, Kianz Froese seemed to fall out of favour with manager Carl Robinson. He was exiled to the bench and then out of the 18. Once again, many fans saw this as the end of Froese run with the Whitecaps. This belief was furthered when there was a need to clear up a roster spot for David Edgar and Marcel de Jong. Froese was loaned/trained with German squad FC Kaiserslautern, but came back at the start of September and joined Whitecaps FC 2 for their playoff run. Since his return, Froese has looked excellent and has been a key contributor to the ThunderCaps reaching the Western Final this Saturday. Once again, it could easily be argued that the time away from the Whitecaps was a positive for Froese development.
While not all loans work out, it is time that Whitecaps fans stop looking at a loan as a bad thing. When you have played your entire career in the friendly confines of the Whitecaps Residency (or other North American programs), going away to another team for a brief period is not a bad thing. In fact, it can only be seen as good, as it provides the player a different perspective that they may not be accustom. Although we would love to see all of the young players in the Whitecaps program succeed with the senior team, especially the Canadian ones, that is not always possible. Moreover, that success may require some experience playing abroad.
What are your thoughts on loans? Let us know.