5 Manchester United players enjoying life on loan this season

Danny Welbeck, Jesse Lingard, Dean Henderson, and David Beckham. What’s common among these except the fact that they’re all academy graduates who became first-team players? It is the step between those two stages.

All these players had fruitful loan spells which enabled them to transition to senior football. Some went on to flourish at United, while others went on to have respectable careers in top-level football.

Loans are not always easy. To a certain extent, the player is beyond the club’s control. Various factors go into making a loan a successful one. Playing time, club culture, performance in that playing time, personal development, and much more.

Manchester United have 19 players out on loan this season. These range from players in the Premier League, all the way down to non-league. Some will be successful, some won’t.

Here are 5 of the successful ones, the players who are enjoying life outside the glitz of Old Trafford.

Amad Diallo – Sunderland

Amad Diallo was dangerously close to being written off as a Manchester United player at the start of the season. Intermittent first-team appearances had followed a failed loan spell at Rangers last season. With Erik ten Hag signing Antony for the right-wing spot and Facundo Pellistri hovering around the edges of the first team, things were bleak for Amad. What has followed is an ideal loan move.

Sunderland sealed a loan deal for the tricky Ivorian till the end of the season. The club had just been promoted from League One. They were expected to struggle in the Championship. For Amad, this was going to be a baptism of fire.

After a slow start when he was in and out of the team, Amad has exploded, and so have Sunderland’s fortune. Tony Mowbray (Sunderland manager) has handled his development masterfully. Combining with former Manchester City player Patrick Roberts down the right, Amad has injected new life into his career.

Nine goals and two assists in 29 league appearances speak of a player who is ever-growing in confidence. He has become a crucial player for a squad defying expectations, sitting just seven points off playoff spots.

Amad has been given ample freedom to do his magic in the final third and has almost converted to a nifty, left-footed No 10 more than a conventional inside forward on the right. With Bruno Fernandes running on fumes this season, Amad’s development couldn’t have come at a better time for United.

Look for Amad to remain in and around the Man Utd first team next season as he takes his first steps towards fulfilling his vast potential. In the unlikely event that Sunderland gain promotion, the club would likely extend his loan in a deal that would suit everyone.

Alvaro Fernandez – Preston North End

Another Championship loan that has gone right. Although Fernandez is further away from first-team competition than Amad, he has firmly established himself as a prospect to keep an eye on during a fruitful loan spell at Preston.

Fernandez has played 61% of all available minutes for Preston this season. He has become an archetypal modern LB, in the sense that he likes to bomb forward at every opportunity. He has great recovery speed that enables him to contribute in both attack and defence. Fernandez’s highlight reel at Preston contains plenty of mazy dribbles, aggressive tackling and increasing tactical nous.

When you’re teammates jokingly warn you that they need you at the club again next season, you must have done something right!

Look for Fernandez to extend his loan spell at Preston next season unless a Premier League team offers regular first-team football.

Hannibal Mejbri – Birmingham

Championship loan success stories continue. Hannibal has had the fans and coaches at Man Utd giddy since he signed for the club in a deal worth up to €10 million. After bossing the U23s level as a 17-year-old and sniffing a first-team place, this season has been Mejbri’s first experience of regular first-team football. He has justified the excitement around him with assured performances.

While he hasn’t set the world alight like Amad, Hannibal has acquitted himself well at the level. A goal and five assists in 32 league appearances from midfield speak of a player who is a growing threat. His aggression has thrown him into trouble a bit this season, receiving nine yellow cards, a trait that has carried from age-group football.

Most importantly, he has played regularly for a club that has struggled to get going. Placed 17th, every game has been a battle of attrition for Birmingham. Coming through such an experience can be life-changing for a young player on loan if taken well. There are high expectations around what Mejbri could be for Man Utd in the future and the first steps towards that are promising.

Look for Hannibal to have another loan spell in the Championship or at a club at the lower end of a top-5 league that would offer him regular football.

Dean Henderson – Nottingham Forest

Can a player who called out his parent club for lying to him, and is currently injured really be pegged as “loving life”? In this case, yes. For United fans, Henderson mainly made the news for his bombshell interview earlier in the season where he said that he didn’t even want to meet Erik ten Hag to discuss his future after the club lied to him about assurances regarding becoming a first-choice goalkeeper.

Consequently, Henderson was loaned to Premier League newcomers Nottingham Forest. Sure enough, Henderson started with his trademark confidence, quickly becoming a fan-favourite for his brash playing style, saving penalties and being an all-around presence for a team that was leaking chances.

An injury stopped another sparkling campaign in its tracks and Forest signed Keylor Navas. It would be interesting to see if Henderson comes straight back in as the first choice.

Either way, this loan spell has been fruitful. Henderson has left no doubts about his status as a Premier League-level goalkeeper/ Even if United’s doors remain closed due to frosty relations, it is almost certain that Henderson will remain in the Premier League. Chelsea and Tottenham have been credited with an interest.

Henderson’s value as an asset has risen and United can take advantage of it. Henderson can stay in the Premier League and prove himself at a bigger club. Certainly not a failed loan spell then!

Ethan Laird – Queens Park Rangers

Of all the prospects on this list, Laird arguably has the best chance of cracking United’s first-team due to the position he plays. A flying right-back in the modern English mould of Reece James, Kyle Walker, and Trent Alexander-Arnold, Laird has been a name that has excited coaches at the club for a while. Injuries have hampered his progress a great deal in his career. There have been multiple false dawns during multiple loan spells where he looked like breaking out before injuries forced the club and player to shift course.

This spell at QPR appears to have broken the curse. Laird has made 26 appearances, playing 68% of available minutes in the league. Fortunately for the player and club, he hasn’t lost his trademark dynamism despite injuries. Laird regularly flies forward to join the attack and has even been deployed as a right-midfielder at times.

With Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka both impressing in fits and starts, there is an opportunity to be had at Manchester United for Laird if he impresses in the pre-season next year. However, it is more likely that United make him available for a better Championship team, or a PL team at the lower end of the table. Still, barring United buying a right-back (there are more pressing needs as things currently stand), Laird has a good chance of making his career at Manchester United if he stays injury free.

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More Stories Alvaro Fernandez Amad Diallo Dean Henderson Ethan Laird Hannibal Mejbri Manchester United