When you sign young players on loan, particularly from higher level clubs, it’s usually with a view to creating a mutually beneficial partnership.
For the player, they need game time and the chance to improve their all-round game and prove themselves to their parent club. For the parent club, they get a player out of the door who isn’t going to feature in their first team plans just yet, but with the added benefit that the club you’re sending them to can give them everything they need in terms of minutes on the pitch - with the end goal that the player returns more well-rounded and ready to contribute. And for the recipient club, in this instance Sunderland, you receive a talented player who you wouldn’t otherwise have been able to attain for a variety of reasons.
Of course, these loans don’t always work out, and that’s where the loan agreement can benefit a club like ourselves, because we simply hand the player back without any ties. If the player hasn’t improved then the parent club can either sell them or send them out on loan again, and for the player it at least establishes what stage they’re at in their career.
Down the years Sunderland have had a pretty poor record of loaning players in, in truth - barring a handful of exceptions I can’t recall too many players who came to our club and did a brilliant job as a loanee. Danny Rose, Marcos Alonso, Yann M’Vila... that’s about it off the top of my head, though I’m sure you guys reading this can think of a few more.
Times have changed though, and under the current regime some serious legwork has gone into the loaning process, and we’re now signing players from Premier League clubs (or in the case of Edouard Michut, from the French top flight) that are more than good enough to contribute.
Ellis Simms and Amad Diallo signed for Sunderland in the summer with the aim to impress, improve and do a good job. We can probably leave the discussion around Simms for another day, but what I will say is that the move worked out as everyone expected - he came, scored goals and went back to Everton as a more complete player, forming part of their first team squad. The sadness of that particular situation is that his time here was cut short, and anyone with half a brain can see he would have been better off left here playing and scoring regularly than going back to Merseyside early to warm a seat on the bench.
What it did remind us of is that these loans are only temporary, these are not our players, and their clubs hold all the cards. If they want them back then they can take them, and we haven’t got a say in it.
The impact that Amad Diallo has had on the Championship has been massive and in the wake of the Simms situation, it became a concern to us all that it might be viewed by Manchester United that given how well Amad has done, he might be better off returning to Old Trafford for the second half of the season.
Thankfully, Erik Ten Hag has quelled those fears and has admitted that the best place for Amad right now is exactly where he is - so we can enjoy his talents in a Sunderland shirt until at least the summer, which is a huge relief to everyone given how pivotal he’s become to the success of Tony Mowbray’s team this season.
As reported by the Manchester Evening News, the Dutchman said:
We consider everything but I have a little bit of reservation about [recalling Amad] because I don’t want to stop the process.
He has made really good progress there so I’m happy with that.
But young players need experiences and when we decide for him to come back, he has to be a player who can compete for the starting XI or minimum to come on for a lot of games and make an impact.
Because in that moment I didn’t see him in the starting XI or a player who had already had an impact, but I see and value and his potential and capabilities.
What I saw is that he needs experience in men’s football, senior football. I think there are many aspects of football to get strong physically and mentally, and also skills-wise, to improve and develop that so he can have value for us.
Ten Hag’s approach is sensible - it’s just a shame that Frank Lampard doesn’t feel quite as patient... but I digress. The Amad situation has some clarity now at least, and we can at least remove the fear that he might be snatched away from us just as we were starting to really enjoy watching him for the time being.
We’ve been inundated by keen Manchester United supporters on social media who want to know more about how Amad has been doing - understandable really, given the amount of money he cost them. There was a lot of hype around this lad when he signed for United in 2021 and after a disappointing loan with Rangers, many weren’t sure what to expect when he signed for us.
Rest assured, lads and lasses - he’s doing just fine with us and whilst I have no doubt that he could play right now for Manchester United and be an effective player, the reason he’s playing with such confidence and has been able to do as well as he has done is because he’s playing regular football in a team that allows him to flourish, for a manager that cares about him, and in front of a fanbase that adore him.
Removing any player from that situation earlier than expected would be pure lunacy on the part of their parent club - Amad is a superstar but all of the momentum he’s been able to build up would be crushed in an instant if, like with Simms and Everton, he’s taken away from that environment to just be another player lost in the shuffle, sat on the bench getting a few minutes here and there.
I keep saying this, but Sunderland fans just need to enjoy him while he’s here, because his career trajectory will see him hits heights we’re unlikely to ever see, unfortunately. I see trophies, Champions League football and more for this lad in a Manchester United shirt and to have played a part in that particular journey should make Sunderland AFC very proud - hopefully by the time he leaves us we’re in a far better position than the one we started in.