Sometimes Loans Are Just What The Doctor Ordered

LONDON ENGLAND - JANUARY 15: Michael Essien of Chelsea reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Blackburn Rovers at Stamford Bridge on January 15 2011 in London England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

As a general rule, I'm not a big fan of loans for a club like Aston Villa. For lower division sides, they make a great deal of sense; those teams don't tend to have much money to spend, and the right temporary signing can sometimes be the thing that gets them into the next division. But for a Premier League club with every expectation of staying that way and the ability to spend, they're often a bit of a head-scratcher. Kyle Walker was an excellent play for Villa in 2010-11, but his time in the club came at the expense of Eric Lichaj's development and ultimately it allowed Tottenham to evaluate him extensively at the Premier League level. When it turned out he was more than ready, it ended any chance Villa might have had to sign him on a permanent basis. In most cases, moves like that are self defeating.

But in other cases loan moves make perfect sense, and this year's Aston Villa squad is the perfect example. Paul Lambert has set about stocking the club with young and hungry players from lower leagues, and as a general strategy I'm a big fan of the path he has taken. But with so many holes to fill, there just hasn't been enough money to take care of them all. Two of the most glaring needs that it would appear will go unaddressed are Villa's lack of Premier League experience in the squad and steel in midfield. With the right move, Villa could take care of both without losing more than wages and a nominal fee.

I'll admit, the news that Michael Essien was being made available for loan is the thing that inspired me to write this post. And of course, such a signing would be tremendous. But it's exceedingly unlikely for a variety of reasons. Still, he's far from the only player that would fit the bill that isn't likely to see much of the pitch. Villa doesn't need a world-beater; they just need a guy that can do a job for a season.

To be clear, I don't expect any moves of this type to happen. And if that ends up being the case, it's far from the end of the world. But like most other things, there's no point in being dead-set against loan moves of all stripes without considering context. There has to be a case-by-case evaluation, and in this case there are many reasons to think it would make a lot of sense.

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