x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Managers must handle young talents with care when considering loan deals

Managers need to take special care when deciding whether to send budding young prospects out on loan.

Manchester United's Chilean striker Angelo Henriquez is an example of how young players can flourish when they are sent out on loan to find first-team football. Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP
Manchester United's Chilean striker Angelo Henriquez is an example of how young players can flourish when they are sent out on loan to find first-team football. Jonathan Nackstrand / AFP

When should a football club loan out an emerging player not quite ready for first-team duty but in desperate need of minutes on the pitch to further develop?

Players think they are ready for the first team from a young age, the manager usually does not. The player needs games, but if he cannot get them at a level which will improve him as a player there is a danger he will go backwards.

Paul Pogba was not loaned out by Manchester United, nor did he receive the first-team chances which he felt he deserved.

In hindsight, he was right to want more game-time at Old Trafford and he is now showing off his talents with Juventus.

Tom Cleverely thought he was ready for the first team at United. Former manager Sir Alex Ferguson disagreed. Cleverley went to Wigan Athletic, where he realised that Ferguson was right. He learnt a lot on loan.

Deciding when a player is ready for first-team duty at a major club like United is difficult. Without experience they are a risk to play, yet they do not get experience unless they play.

New Manchester United manager David Moyes made decisions about three youngsters in August. He decided to keep and play Adnan Januzaj. That decision so far has been vindicated.

Moyes made a different call over Chilean forward Angelo Henriquez and English striker Jesse Lingard. He was right about both.

Lingard recently scored a 14-minute hat-trick for Birmingham City in England’s second-tier Championship while Henriquez has netted four in the last three games for Real Zaragoza in Spain’s second tier.

Gerard Pique, another former United player now a mainstay in the Barcelona defence, had such a successful loan spell at Zaragoza in the 2006/07 season that they offered to buy him for €10 million (Dh49.6m).

Zaragoza could not afford to pay that for a player now, but they can afford to play Henriquez and give him valuable experience – and he is thriving.

United signed Henriquez from Universidad de Chile in July 2012 for £3 million (Dh17.5m). He was loaned to Wigan in January, where he impressed everyone with his attitude and professionalism on the pitch less than a year after moving to the other side of the world.

A striker who plays off the shoulder like Javier Hernandez, he made a goalscoring Premier League debut when he was just 18.

Coaches at Wigan noted that such was his maturity, he played like someone five years older.

Small details matter. He would knock on the kitman’s door and ask politely for socks. He spoke almost flawless English. Regular gym sessions helped build up his core strength.

Henriquez is a bright prospect who can play anywhere across the front three, but he is best deployed as a centre-forward. Remember his name.

sports@thenational.ae