In a year ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic, loan deals have been the flavour of the season. Premier League clubs as well as others in the continent have favoured loan deals instead of direct player purchases to better balance their books as cash has been in short supply.
It's been a surreal Premier League season, with most top clubs looking off the pace. The congested schedule has meant that many clubs, which have been stretched to their limits, could need urgent replenishments in the January transfer window.
However, the upcoming window could also see players who have been deemed surplus to requirements or ones who have not managed enough game-time departing clubs. With January usually being an awkward time for clubs to conduct 'business', loan deals could be the way out for these players.
5 Premier League players who could leave on loan in January
Two major tournaments - the European Championships and the Copa America - are scheduled next summer.
With an eye on the two marquee events, the upcoming transfer window could see fringe players in Premier League clubs jumping ship to another club where they could get regular game-time.
On that note, let us have a look at five such Premier League players, in no particular order, who could leave on loan in January.
#5 Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur)
After flourishing under previous Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino, a combination of injuries and subsequent loss of form has seen Dele Alli spectacularly slide down the pecking order at Spurs.
The player was all set to leave the Premier League club in the summer. However, interest from several clubs, one of them reportedly being Real Madrid, did not result in a move for the player, and Alli stayed put at Spurs.
The 24-year-old attacking midfielder has scored just once in six appearances (two of them being in the Premier League) in all competitions this season.
He is not an automatic starter under Jose Mourinho and has mostly squandered the few opportunities he has received this season. The likes of the returning Gareth Bale, Tanguy Ndombele, Steven Bergwijn, Lucas Moura and Erik Lamela are all ahead of Alli at the moment. That makes him unlikely to break into the Spurs first team any time soon.
Talks about the player's decline appear exaggerated as Dele Alli recently scored his 50th Premier League goal for Spurs. However, he does need a fresh start at a different club as he has age on his side.
Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid were linked with loan deals for the player in the summer but it remains to be seen if any of them could renew their interest in the player in January.
With regular first-team football, Alli could rediscover his mojo and also hope to break into Gareth Southgate's England squad for the European Championships.
#4 William Saliba (Arsenal)
After being signed up by Arsenal last summer, the then-18-year-old William Saliba was sent back out on loan to St. Etienne, where he managed only 12 appearances during a truncated Ligue 1 season owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Back at Arsenal after the end of his loan spell this summer, the centre-back has apparently not adapted to his new surroundings to the extent that the club's manager Mikel Arteta would have liked.
Arsenal have had injury issues in their defence this season but Saliba is far from a fixture at the club. In fact, the player is yet to appear for the club and could be away on another loan spell to gain some first-team experience.
Arteta said in this regard:
“I explained that he needed that transition year when we decided to buy him and send him on loan to Saint-Etienne, for many reasons that didn’t happen, he didn’t have that transition year, and he needs to go through that. At the moment, with the amount of central defenders that we have in the team, we had to leave him out of the squad, which is painful, because we have some injuries, and we could have used him, but it’s part of this profession."
A loan move to his former club St. Etienne in January appears to be the most plausible outcome for William Saliba.