Assessing the wisdom of loaning Ousmane Dembele

Is the loan market viable for Liverpool FC? 

This week, rumors have failed to abate regarding Barcelona’s willingness to allow young French forward Ousmane Dembele to leave the club on loan next season.  One of the likely destinations would be Liverpool.  Yesterday though, Spanish Football guru Guillem Balague confirmed that The Catalans were unwilling to sanction a permanent transfer despite their pursuit of Antione Griezemann.  They appear to be keeping their options open for now.

They are still just rumours at this stage, but they are persistent and information from both sides of the potential deal hints that there is something to them.  Jurgen Klopp is thought to be interested in the Frenchman and his talents would be a great boost to our current attacking options.  Origi and Sturridge are likely to be jettisoned this summer, so replacements will be needed. However, it’s worth Liverpool considering the logic of a loan move before we did commit to anything.  Who would really benefit long-term from such a potential move?

Valid Option

Dembele is a player whom pundits are raving about, despite his fractured season in Spain.  His fierce pace and dribbling are well suited to our style of play.  Barcelona were suitably impressed to pay a near world record sum to land him in summer 2017 and the fact he has made the twenty-three-man squad for France’s World Cup squad is very impressive given his injury hit season.

The pressing game adopted by Liverpool needs men who can run that final third with speed and skill, Dembele certainly ticks those boxes.  Klopp is familiar with him and will likely favor a move, but should we be pressing Los Cules for a permanent transfer of the player rather than going down the uncertain path of the temporary market?

Self-serving or damaging?

The fact that Barca are keen only on loaning their player out is evidence of their belief in his potential.  If we were to take a loan option, it would be vital that we did it with a worthy end goal in mind; I.E the player becoming a Red full time.

If we took him for a season and he were to adapt fully to the Premier League and the demands of the high press, he would no doubt improve exponentially.  If that were the case, there is a no chance Barcelona would be happy to lose him.  We would in effect, have served their long-term goals rather than our own and given them back a more seasoned, well rounded player.

Yes Liverpool would have benefited from a top class player for what could be a momentous season, but we risk being made to look like a small fish once again in the shadow of the Camp Nou.  Barcelona undermined Liverpool all summer in their pursuit of Philippe Coutinho, we don’t owe them a free roll of the dice with their players and put ourselves out in the long run.

Strange phenomenon

The loan market was once seen as an emergency option or a chance for a player either too young or not considered, to get some much-needed game time.  However, in recent seasons, some of the larger clubs in Europe have adopted the policy of loaning in talent rather than making a long term investment, with mixed results.

Liverpool employed the services of Victor Moses in what felt like a sticking plaster solution in 2013-14.  The wing-back flattered to deceive despite some encouraging early games, and ultimately returned to Chelsea with both parties frustrated.

Gradually though, the Nigerian has worked his way back first team consideration at Stamford Bridge, culminating in his stand-out season in 2016-17 as Chelsea won the title under Antonio Conte.  How helpful was his spell at Liverpool’s title chasers that season? Ultimately it is hard to quantify, but exposure to the pressures of a title run-in can’t hurt your experiences.

Chelsea and Manchester United have also recently opted for the once stellar name of Radamel Falcao, for a season-long loan.  The Columbian though looked nowhere near fit or in form in either of his temporary moves to England’s elite clubs as the gamble backfired and made for grim viewing for all involved.

It does beg the question as to why a club at the very top would need such a high-profile loan move when they already steeped in plentiful resources.  Could they not give their own talented young players more game time?  Or better still, their scouts could find the next big name before they become inflated super-ego, expensive footballers.

Likely outcome

Liverpool are hoping to use this season as the springboard for a sustained challenge on major honours.  Lending the trimmings from Real Madrid or Barcelona is hardly a move in keeping with our newly elevated ambitions.  Dembele is clearly a talent and the argument is there to put us in the frame for a permanent transfer is loan move is successful.

There is also the concern over the player’s injuries.  Just last week he picked up an ankle injury and earlier on in the season, in his first start for Barcelona he was ruled out for four months with a hamstring injury.  The last thing Liverpool want to be doing is to invest in another injury prone player. Perhaps a loan buys us some time to assess just how worthwhile the investment would be on those fragile ligaments and tendons.

A loan move, with a reasonable transfer fee at the end of it would be a likely outcome at this venture but with the now ruthless atmosphere of European football, there are no guarantees that Barcelona would play ball this time next year if their player is transformed in dizzy world of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.

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