5 Premier League loanees who could shine in 2018
The loan system has become something which a lot of the big teams have adopted wholeheartedly. Chelsea, with over 30 players currently out on loan, is one side that has converted the business into an effective cash cow to fund future transfers and improve finances too.
With the Premier League becoming increasingly tough as clubs persist in their search for ever-improving progression, top teams cannot afford to take any chances with less experienced players, meaning it'd be beneficial that their development is not stalled and instead they're given chances elsewhere.
Young players coming through from the academy have seemingly little chance of making their mark on the big stage. The loan system helps clubs to retain their top talents whilst giving the youngsters and other fringe players much-needed first-team minutes, where they can track statistics and performances to gauge whether or not their full potential will be reached.
The best case scenario for clubs is that players loaned out develop well and prove they're good enough to be slotted into the first-team with no issues. If an academy player is able to do this, they'd save plenty of money on potential transfers as a result.
In a transfer market as inflated as it currently is, getting a fantastic youngster for free is a huge bonus. Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford and Andreas Christensen are just three more recent instances where top clubs have benefited from a youngster's ability coming through from their respective academies.
With that in mind, here is a list of players from the Premier League's top sides who have been loaned out in 2017/18 and have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to their sides going forward in 2018.
#5 Kurt Zouma (Stoke, on-loan from Chelsea)
Chelsea have struggled defensively recently and are in desperate need of a reliable centre-back. John Terry's departure last season, though inevitable, has left a gaping hole in terms of leadership while Gary Cahill's faltering form continues to haunt the Englishman's displays at the back.
David Luiz's long-term future is not certain in west London either, with Cesar Azpilicueta the only reliable and consistent figure at the heart of Chelsea's defence in recent seasons.
In comes Zouma. Very impressive during the 2015/16 campaign, he helped the team to keep eight clean sheets in 23 league fixtures before sustaining a lengthy injury during their 1-1 draw against Manchester United.
Rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament, he was sidelined for nine months and only just returned to full fitness on the eve of 2017.
He signed a long-term contract with the Blues until 2023 just before signing a season-long loan deal at Stoke last summer, meaning they believe he does have a long future at the club.
The Potters have had a rough campaign thus far and even still, Zouma's presence has helped them to keep four clean sheets. Arguably their best defender, the Frenchman has played in all but three of their league fixtures this term to date - they conceded 12 in that time.