Transfer deadline day on Thursday saw the arrival of three new loan signings to supplement the three already at the club. Some have commented that we should be looking to buy players rather than loan them but, in my opinion, using the loan market is the right strategy given Albion’s current position.
Irrespective of whether you believe the club’s owner, Guochuan Lai, would be prepared to fund purchases or not (OK, we all know that he’s not), the fact is that loan signings are a better option from both a financial and footballing point of view.
Firstly, it is well understood that the value isn’t really there in the January window, and we all remember how our previous chairman, Jeremy Peace, would eschew any sort of spending in the winter window.
Secondly, even if the club was prepared to shell out some cash, we should only be buying players that improve our squad. To bring in any player on a permanent deal, you need to factor in not only the transfer fee, but also the wages over the term of the contract – as there is no guarantee of promotion, you need to take into account the reducing parachute payments over the next few years, and that means the package Albion could offer is unlikely to attract the right quality of player.
With a loan signing, you can pay higher wages as you know it is for a short term period, so you can get a much higher quality of player, such as the ones Albion signed on Thursday. And that is why it also makes sense from a footballing point of view.
With higher wages, you get better players and, therefore, a better chance of winning promotion. If it works, we’re back in the Premier League, we’re in a different financial position and shopping in a different market. If it doesn’t, we don’t have an expensively paid player on the books.
Obviously, loan signings will return to their parent clubs, but if it is a successful spell, you have a better chance of being able to persuade them to join permanently, assuming it works for all parties. If the parent club want to keep them, obviously that is out of Albion’s hands but, in those cases, we would have always been unlikely to get the player on a permanent deal in the first place.
In my opinion, it’s definitely the right way to go and I don’t believe that the club could have got any of the four players brought in this January on a permanent basis at this time.
One thing to note is that Albion now have six loan signings, only five of which can be used in any match day squad, so one of them is going to be out of the 18 every week.
Overall, the signings of Holgate, Murphy, Montero and Johansen have significantly strengthened the squad and the Baggies are now in a great position to push for a top two spot.