13 Premier League loanees who could make spectacular first-team returns in 2017/18Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea (of course) are among the clubs who could win big by bringing back players who have excelled on loan this season
Tammy Abraham (Chelsea)
Chelsea haven’t struggled for goals this season, but the relationship between primary scorer Diego Costa and manager Antonio Conte seems combustible. With Michy Batshuayi failing to make an impact on the first team in his maiden campaign, the highly rated Abraham may soon find himself in a position of greater responsibility.
The 19-year-old striker has scored 22 times in the Championship while on loan at Bristol City this season, and his strength and directness would suit Conte’s tactics.
Kyle Bartley (Swansea)
Leeds’ major strength this season has been solid defending. Garry Monk’s side are cohesive without the ball, hence why they have the best goals conceded record in the Championship outside of the top two, Brighton and Newcastle.
Bartley has been at the centre of this, leading from the back with commanding performances. Swansea have the worst defensive record in the Premier League at present, making their decision to loan out Bartley seem more bizarre by the week. If the Swans don’t cash in on him, the 25-year-old could form a strong partnership with Alfie Mawson upon his return in 2017/18.
Steven Berghuis (Watford)
Watford are set for a comfortable mid-table finish, but the fact that only four Premier League teams have scored fewer goals than the Hornets suggests a need for additional firepower. To that end, Watford could consider giving more chances to Berghuis next season.
The 25-year-old Netherlands international has scored eight goals and set up another five while on loan at Eredivisie leaders Feyenoord, and his incisive inward runs and accurate left foot could combine nicely with Troy Deeney’s hold-up play.
Calum Chambers (Arsenal)
If/when Middlesbrough do eventually suffer relegation and return to the Championship after just one season back in the top tier, it won't be for a lack of defensive organisation. With just 39 goals conceded, they possess a record that wouldn't look out of place in the top six. In fact, they have conceded fewer league goals than Chambers’ parent club Arsenal.
The 22-year-old defender has played an important part in Boro’s solidity and, as a result, he could soon be challenging Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi for a place in his parent club’s starting line-up.
Sam Gallagher (Southampton)
Physically imposing and a genuine aerial threat, Gallagher may not have the refinement often seen in Southampton’s game, but the 21-year-old could nonetheless be utilised as an alternative outlet alongside Manolo Gabbiadini, or an effective Plan B from the substitutes’ bench.
The striker has scored 10 goals while on loan at Blackburn this season, and his assertive style could work well against weaker Premier League defences.
Lazar Markovic (Liverpool)
Markovic has been an important component in Marco Silva’s rejuvenation of Hull. The Serbian winger arrived at the KCOM Stadium on a six-month loan deal in January and has since shown the full extent of his pace and direct running, assets that have been particularly effective in counter-attacking situations.
With a potential return to the Champions League for the Reds on the horizon, Liverpool could benefit from the 23-year-old Markovic’s athleticism and purpose – as well as the added squad depth he’d bring.
Emerson Hyndman (Bournemouth)
The cauldron of Old Firm football isn’t for every player, but Hyndman has adjusted well since agreeing to a temporary spell with Rangers. The American midfielder has showed real composure on the ball and a smooth touch, while also providing a goal threat: he has found the net four times in 11 Scottish Premiership outings.
When Jack Wilshere’s loan deal with Bournemouth comes to an end and he returns to Arsenal, Hyndman may be a contender to challenge for a place in Eddie Howe’s line-up.
Andreas Pereira (Manchester United)
Manchester United aren’t short of attacking midfielders or wingers, but they may be wise to make room for one more in the form of Pereira next term.
The 21-year-old Brazilian has been Granada’s best player while on loan at the relegation-threatened La Liga outfit and, with his quick feet, comfort in tight spaces and eye for a pass, he may be able to provide Jose Mourinho’s side with some necessary extra invention.
Andreas Christensen (Chelsea)
Antonio Conte’s 3-4-2-1 system looks set to stay at Chelsea, having been the catalyst for the team’s rise to first in the Premier League table this season. But their backline hasn’t looked nearly as strong when first-choice players are absent, so it’s an area worth strengthening in the summer.
Considering he has played frequently – and well – within a defensive trident during a two-year spell with Borussia Monchengladbach in the Bundesliga, the 22-year-old Denmark international Christensen deserves a look-in (and may actually get it). With John Terry leaving Stamford Bridge, he's probably the most likely player on this list to advance within his parent club.
Patrick Roberts (Manchester City)
Once touted as one of the country's most exciting young players, Roberts has stalled slightly since joining Manchester City. However, the 20-year-old has recaptured something like his best form while on loan at Celtic over the past two seasons.
Time may be running out on his chances of making it at the Etihad, but with his elegant dribbling and exceptional technique, Pep Guardiola may still be able to turn him into a star.
Mamadou Sakho (Liverpool)
Crystal Palace have been revived in recent weeks, moving away from the Premier League relegation zone to the brink of mid-table, and Sakho has been the central defensive colossus at the heart of their turnaround.
Of the team’s 10 league wins this term, Sakho has been present for five; this is noteworthy because he's only played six league games in all for the club. His off-pitch antics may not have impressed Klopp last summer, but on current form the Frenchman’s role at Liverpool is worth reconsidering. It’ll be intriguing to see if his form for Palace is tempting the Liverpool boss to give him a second chance.
Wojciech Szczesny (Arsenal)
At 34 years of age, Petr Cech has looked decidedly less reliable than in the past, meaning now may be the time for Arsenal to seriously consider potential successors to the Czech shot-stopper. If and when they do, they might look again to Szczesny before entering the transfer market.
The 26-year-old Polish keeper has grown as a player during two years on loan at Roma, maturing into a fine all-round goalkeeper and putting in consistently positive displays.
Enes Unal (Manchester City)
The Guardiola project is under way at Manchester City, and youngsters are playing a huge part. Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus have shown their vast potential at times this term, and they could soon be joined Unal.
After scoring with regularity in the Dutch second tier, the Turkish striker has stepped up a level in 2015/16, hitting an impressive 17 goals in 29 Eredvisie appearances for Twente. At 19, he has shown astute movement in and around the penalty box, as well as a willingness to drive at defenders. If a work permit can be arranged, he would only add to Guardiola’s attacking options.