Big-money moves always steal the headlines in the transfer window, and we can all list off the most expensive, disastrous and quite frankly outrageous permanent signings from yesteryear.
But what about the quirky loan moves? A selection of players have journeyed down the footballing pyramid or overseas as youngsters prior to hitting the big time, leaving some unorthodox entries in their illustrious career histories.
Let’s take a look at the most rogue, obscure and easily forgotten about loan moves.
With 146 goals to his name, Teddy Sheringham is one of the finest goalscorers in Premier League history. He’s a treble winner with Manchester United, a former Premier League golden boot recipient and he has been capped 51 times for England.
However, the forward’s first piece of silverware was the Division 2 Norra title (the Swedish fourth tier) in 1985.
Sheringham began his senior career with Millwall, but before he nailed down a starting berth with the then-third-tier outfit he was loaned out twice as a teenager – first to Aldershot, and then to Djurgardens. He would score 13 goals in 21 appearances for the Swedish side en route to their league title triumph.
Les Ferdinand famously had a convoluted journey to the top, starting off in non-league before catching the eye of QPR and going on to net 149 Premier League goals across spells with the likes of Newcastle and Tottenham.
Despite such a prolific career in front of goal, Ferdinand would hang up his boots with just two winners’ medals – the first of which came during a loan spell with Turkish giants Besiktas as a 21-year-old.
The forward joined the club temporarily from QPR. He netted 14 goals in 24 league games and was part of the Besiktas side who won the 1988 Turkish Cup.
Frank Lampard is the top-scoring midfielder in Premier League history and one of Chelsea‘s most iconic players. But before soaring to success with the Blues, and before he’d even made his senior debut for boyhood club West Ham, 17-year-old Lampard spent four months at Swansea. Worst gap year ever.
This wasn’t Roberto Martinez or Brendan Rodgers’ sexy Swansea either. This was 1995. The Swans were embroiled in a relegation battle in the third tier and playing at their former, less glamorous Vetch Field home.
Lampard made nine appearances for Swansea, netted his maiden senior goal, and departed in January prior to the Welsh side suffering the drop. He didn’t let the scars of their relegation have too much of a detrimental effect on his career.
Early-noughties Peter Crouch is the king of the rogue loan moves. During his time at Tottenham as a teenager, he had a brief stint at Swedish third tier outfit IFK Hassleholm, but this is bettered by his loan spell before that; six appearances for London’s most hipster football club, Dulwich Hamlet, in the seventh tier of English football.
Dulwich Hamlet have gained a cult following thanks to their left-wing, craft beer loving, activist fanbase. They have had a real popularity boom over the last seven years, becoming one of the best supported sides in non-league.
Crouch netted once for the then Isthmian League Premier Division club when he played for them over two decades ago – before Dulwich Hamlet were cool, some may say. Can’t get more hipster than that.
Chelsea legend John Terry is famously a one-club man – apart from that final season he had with Aston Villa and the loan spell he enjoyed at Nottingham Forest as a 19-year-old.
With Frank Leboeuf and Marcel Desailly ahead of him in the Stamford Bridge pecking order, Terry joined second-tier Forest in 2000 and made six appearances for club – who remained undefeated with the future England skipper at the back.
Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli was reportedly prepared to sell Terry that summer, and Forest were an interested party following his impressive loan spell. But the centre-back was determined to remain at Stamford Bridge and the following season he broke into the Chelsea first team and was named the club’s player of the year.
It is weird to imagine Ryan Shawcross being anything other than a Stoke City centre-half. Can you visualise him as a child? No, you can only ever picture Ryan Shawcross in red and white stripes at the Bet365 Stadium defending a corner.
Miraculously, the centre-back has represented other teams. He came through the Manchester United youth side, and as a youngster at Old Trafford he was loaned out to Belgian outfit Royal Antwerp for half a season.
A beautiful city sitting on the river Scheldt and steeped in history and culture, it’s not the first destination you’d pick for the no-nonsense defender. Shawcross scored three goals for Antwerp and helped them reach the Belgian Second Division playoffs.
Kyle Walker has been sent out on loan on four occasions in his career, and each move was gradually more ordinary.
Fortunately, he kicked off with absolute cracker, as 18-year-old Walker and his afterburners headed to League One outfit Northampton Town prior to breaking into the Sheffield United first team.
The full-back featured nine times for the Cobblers – more first-team appearances than he had made for Sheffield United when he earned his move to Tottenham in 2009.
A footballer who would ultimately spend the best years of his career in the MLS being shipped out on loan to the Championship as an out-of-favour youngster at Tottenham isn’t that rogue.
But in May 2008, Giovani dos Santos scored a hat-trick for Barcelona in a 5-3 win over Real Marcia, lining up alongside Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry, Xavi and Samuel Eto’o. Ten months later, he was plying his trade with Alex Bruce, Ben Thatcher and Alan Quinn at Portman Road for Ipswich in the Old Farm derby.
The 19-year-old shone in Suffolk, netting four goals in eight games and unsurprisingly looking an absolute class apart.
A decade before Jordan Henderson captained Liverpool to Champions League glory, he was yet to nail down a starting berth at Sunderland and was sent out to Championship outfit Coventry, aged 19.
Henderson made ten appearances for the Sky Blues and scored his first senior goal, in addition to earning his maiden call up to the England youth setup.
The midfielder also wrote a piece for Coventry Live during his time with the Midlands outfit, detailing how he was settling in. It’s very endearing, but does read a little bit like a GCSE French assessment.
“My dad is called Brian and my mam is called Liz and they both support Sunderland,” is our favourite line.
Is it common knowledge that England international Eric Dier had a loan spell with Everton as a teenager?
The defender spent 18 months on Merseyside between the ages of 17 and 18 and featured for their Under-18 side without making a senior appearance.
However, Dier admitted that he found making the adjustment from life in Lisbon to life in Liverpool difficult. He broke into the Sporting CP first team shortly after returning to Portugal.
18-year-old Jack Grealish and his big old calves spent the 2013/14 season on loan at League One outfit Notts County from Aston Villa.
He chipped in with five goals and seven assists as he helped the Magpies pull off a remarkable survival job in the dying weeks of the season – and then-County boss Shaun Derry was full of praise for Grealish and fellow loanee Callum McGregor for the roles they played.
“Some guys go out on loan and they’re not too bothered about what happens to their new club because they know they’ll be going back to their old one,” Derry told the Nottingham Post. “However, Callum and Jack weren’t like that. We’d never have stayed up without them.”
Harry Maguire’s first shot at the Premier League was a very unglamorous affair; he made three appearances and was sent out on loan to Championship outfit Wigan for the second half of the campaign as Hull were relegated. And Wigan were relegated too.
A successful season all round.
Just three years later, Maguire was one of the unconventional heroes of England’s 2018 World Cup semi-final squad, before earning a blockbuster move to Manchester United the following summer.