The Loan Report remains slightly short of full strength with much of Europe still on winter breaks, but we’ve still got plenty to bring you, beginning with news of a high-profile returnee.
Nathan Aké began the season struggling to get into the Bournemouth team. As 2017 begins, however, he is leaving the South Coast to return to Chelsea having impressed sufficiently during his two-month run in the side for Antonio Conte to recall him to provide depth and cover to a title-chasing squad.
It means his outing at home to Arsenal in midweek was his final outing for the Cherries, and he now comes home to ostensibly cover injuries to Gary Cahill, Marcos Alonso, or any of the central midfielders. His versatility allows him to do what might otherwise require two or three signings, and it’s the first time since Chelsea branched out into this fully-fledged ‘loan army’ operation that someone has been brought back into the fold in-season to play any kind of role whatsoever.
Quite what role remains to be seen, but if his presence means the title returning to SW6, then it’ll be a decision very much vindicated.
Back on the pitch, Kasey Palmer scored the 74th loan goal of the season in helping Huddersfield to a 4-0 win over Port Vale in the FA Cup Third Round. He was joined in Town colours for the first time by Izzy Brown, who jettisoned a Rotherham United side already on course for relegation in favour of a switch across Yorkshire to join David Wagner’s promotion-chasing Terriers.
The past week has also seen Charlie Colkett recalled from Bristol Rovers, likely with a new move lined up for him to play more often than he was for the Gas, whilst both Alex Davey and Mitchell Beeney left Crawley Town at the end of their half-season stays. Joao Rodriguez, meanwhile, has swapped one Colombian team for another as he departs Santa Fe for Cortuluá ahead of the new league season, and Islam Feruz will also be looking for a new club after returning from Mouscron in Belgium with just 209 minutes of playing time to his name in 2016-17.
After spending the first five months of the season on the treatment table, Loic Remy finally made his Crystal Palace debut in the FA Cup on Saturday. He got 45 minutes in a draw at Bolton, with manager Sam Allardyce optimistic that they can nurse the French forward back to being able to play consistent ninety minutes for the remainder of the campaign.
Patrick Bamford didn’t play for Burnley though, and is expected to leave Turf Moor in favour of pastures new, potentially permanently. Christian Atsu was absent for Newcastle having joined up with Ghana ahead of the African Cup of Nations.
Lucas Piazon helped Fulham into Round Four with a 2-1 win at Cardiff, but Tomas Kalas remains out with an injury, whilst Tammy Abraham and Bristol City were frustrated in a goalless draw at home to Fleetwood Town. Jamal Blackman and Wycombe also secured safe passage through courtesy of a late Adebayo Akinfenwa winner in a 2-1 triumph over non-league Stourbridge.
There was also Football League action for those sides already knocked out, beginning on Thursday for Jordan Houghton and Doncaster, who beat Portsmouth 3-1 to put distance between themselves and their defeated foes in the race for automatic promotion. Alex Kiwomya, however, lasted just 45 minutes of Crewe’s 3-0 defeat to Mansfield, a result that signalled the end of manager Steve Davis’ reign in charge. With Kiwomya’s loan at Gresty Road due to end this week, an interesting couple of days lie ahead for him.
Dion Conroy played the full ninety minute as Aldershot beat Southport 2-1 to remain seventh in the National League.
La Liga resumed this weekend with just Jeremie Boga in action (Victorien Angban is on Ivory Coast duty), but it was a game to forget for Granada as they were battered 5-0 away to Real Madrid. Boga lasted an hour and, despite generally looking handy with the little possession he did get, still appears wasted in one of the Liga’s poorest sides.
Mario Pašalić played 79 minutes of Milan’s 1-0 win over Cagliari, whilst Juan Cuadrado got the final twenty minutes of Juventus’ 3-0 win over Bologna.