The Most Important Loan Deals of Summer 2023

Josip Brajkovic
Josip Brajkovic
Published: 29.9.2023.

Zeros. Lots of them. That’s what gets the top headlines in the transfers cycle of sports news. Yet loans can impact the teams in an equally impactful way to full-fledged moves. A great season can make or break the next three or four. So loans are definitely potent as much as transfers that come with five-year contracts. But what are the most important loan deals of summer 2023?

Which loanees can shape the stories of the 2023/2024 season and onward?

Without transfer fees involved, the players are usually under less pressure to perform. While released from the situation they were unhappy within their own clubs, eager to prove, loanees can be that spark that ignites the whole team.

Biggest loan deals of Summer 2023

In a year where we had multiple transfers above €100,000,000, the loan moves of some of these players are getting more looks and headlines than the bank-breaking ones. With the possibility of these loans turning into full-fledged deals as soon as the market opens, of course.

#10 loanee: Sofyan Amrabat - Fiorentina to Manchester United

Sofyan Amrabat

One of the stars of the 2022 World Cup was seen as the hot commodity on the market for both the summer and winter transfer markets of 2023. Yet, only late in September of 2023 did Manchester United get to sign the defensive midfielder as a loanee with an option to buy. Giving €10,000,000 outright for the lone season, with another €24,680,000 coming Viola's way if the Moroccan impresses at Old Trafford.

Seemingly, United overpaid a bit for the 27-year-old whose deal with Fiorentina expires in 2025, yet that was due to the late nature of the transfer which left Italians with little time to replace him.

#9 loanee: Hakim Ziyech - Chelsea to Galatasaray

Hakim Ziyech

For Hakim Ziyech not to be one of the players who have packed their bags for Saudi Arabia this summer, Galatasaray's project must've been something special. Considering that the clubs communicated that Ziyech will become a full-fledged Galatasaray player. The Turkish giant announced that for the 2023/2024 season, Ziyech will get a wage of €3,500,000 net in year, and somewhat under three million for each of the next two years.

Considering Ziyech was paid €40,000,000 in 2020, and is still just 30, Chelsea's transfer politic is under scrutiny again. As neither the loan nor the subsequent transfer will bring ANY money to Stamford Bridge!

#8 loanee: Ansu Fati - Barcelona to Brighton & Hove Albion

Ansu Fati

Showcasing the brittle nature of football, Ansu Fati was the IT boy on every list just two seasons ago. He was breaking records, touted as the next you guess who, only to see him get loaned out from the backdoor almost in the dying days of the transfer window, on September 1st. Injuries have hampered the youngster who will turn 21 in 2023, but for Barca get rid of him in seemingly - a rush, well it raises questions, to say the least.

Now Fati's future looks closer to that of Bojan Krkic, then the man whose youth-related records he broke - Leo Messi. Of course, FCB is still holding the cards as there is no option to buy Fati for Brighton. Yet the issue of moving to a league and country so different to La Liga and Spain, might prove pivotal. As Fati will have to adjust to a lot, perhaps losing time and space to grow.

#7 loanee: Nicolo Zaniolo - to Aston Villa

Nicolo Zaniolo

Touted as the most talented Italian player of his generation, Nicolo Zaniolo battled injuries, while his managers battled his personality. He signed a massive deal with Galatasaray, lasting until 2027, yet he moved away from Turkey after playing only 12 games. The key figure in this move was Aston Villa's sporting director Monchi, who brought the talented player to Roma in 2018.

Although there are no official options for Zaniolo's loan to become permanent, if all goes well and Zaniolo continues to start for Villans, they will bring out the chequebook.

#6 Goncalo Ramos - Benfica to Paris Saint-Germain

Goncalo Ramos

Paris Saint-Germain is in such a struggle with the financial fair-play rules, that it's used to getting their key players on loans. Of course, usually with an option to buy. That's why they are always included in the most important loan deals lists. Although some reports state that Benfica ensured the sale of the striker Goncalo Ramos and for a sum of €65,000,000. With another €15,000,000 in bonuses.

The 22-year-old arrives with 41 goals scored for Benfica in 106 games, alongside 16 matches. While also having a great return for Portugal, of six goals in eight matches for the A national team.

#5 Romelu Lukaku - Chelsea to Roma

Romelu Lukaku

An unwanted man for a long stretch in the summer, yet considering the destination of his arrival, Romelu Lukaku had to be listed as one of the most important loan deals of summer 2023. Even though he didn't have the best return under Jose Mourinho, Big Rom realized that the Special One likes physical players and that his role would be a valuable one.

Alongside Paulo Dybala, these big-club rejects can make an old-school duo with legitimate title aspirations. Roma paid €9,300,000 for the year, while they'll be able to sign Romelu for €42,600,000 as the Belgium international requested a new deal from Chelsea in order to agree to a loan. With it, his release clause was set at the mentioned price.

#4 loanee: David Raya - Brentford to Arsenal

David Raya

Even though the title challengers of the last Premier League season seemingly had the goalkeeping position secured with the arrival of Aaron Ramsdale, Mikel Arteta decided he wasn't enough. Although the Spaniard is crouching behind the statement that he wants two players for each position, outfield or not, it's clear even early on, that the Brentford addition is the new primary keeper.

Arsenal paid €3,500,000 for the loan deal with an option to buy Raya for an additional sum of €31,140,000. A deal that will seemingly be made, judging by how quickly Ramsdale stepped away for the Spaniard.

#3 loanee: Kepa Arrizabalaga - Chelsea to Real Madrid

Kepa Arrizabalaga

One of the most important loan deals of summer 2023 and certainly the most surprising one. As Kepa - still the world's most expensive goalkeeper - just started settling back into the number one position between the Chelsea goalposts. He was one of the few remaining natives of Stamford Bridge, amongst a sea of new faces, and yet he was remorsefully loaned out as the season started.

Robert Sanchez and Djordje Petrovic were brought in as his replacement at CFC. While Real needed Kepa because of the heavy injury sustained by their first keeper Thibault Courtois. Late in the summer, faced with a crisis, Real welcomed the gift from the Blues with a grin.

#2 loanee: Joao Cancelo - Manchester City to Barcelona

Joao Cancelo

The two most important loan deals of summer 2023 have a joint destination. Joao Cancelo's career was full of ups and downs. During his time in Italy, he was arguably the best full back on both sides of the pitch. A move to Manchester City made all the sense in the world, seemingly it worked well at first but relations broke down. A loan to Bayern Munich didn't work out even though it seemed like another great fit for the attacking Portuguese.

Well, Catalonia quickly proved itself as the perfect place for the right-back who could play like a number 10 if he wanted. They appreciate those type of players at Nou Camp, even though Cancelo will play his first season on the Monjuic stadium. Yet it's hard to imagine Cancelo playing anywhere else but for Barca come the 2024/2025 season.

#1 loanee: Joao Felix - Atletico Madrid to Barcelona

Joao Felix

Solidifying this move as the most important loan deal of summer 2023 was the moment before Felix even wore the maroon and blue shirt on match day. It was his tears on presentation day as the magically able technician was finally in a place where his skills reign supreme.

Joao Felix already slipped into the starting eleven and started providing assists, so seemingly Barca's transfer business for the next summer happened in 2023.

Honourable mentions go to the loan deals for David Frattesi from Sassuolo to Inter and former Arsenal captain Kieran Tierney, who went to the ambitious Real Sociedad. Xavi Simmons moving to RB Leipzig on a leave from PSG, and Rasmus Kristensen reinforcing Roma from the Championship side Leeds United.


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