All clubs loan players in and out, lower league clubs tend to go for bigger clubs youngsters, Championship clubs dream of getting a Premiership star who is not getting a game at his parent club but even the biggest clubs opt for a short term soloution, examples of this are Henrik Larssons spell at Manchester United and David Beckhams loan spells at AC Milan and possibly (at the time of writing) Tottenham.
But are loan signings a good thing for everyone ? In the main yes they are because the system is used to up and coming youngsters gain valuable experience, John Terry (At Nottingham Forest), Jermaine Defoe (at Bournemouth) and David Beckham (at Preston) are just some of todays stars that have reaped the benefits of a loan spell in a lower division. The recent loan of Yakubu to Leicester is a good example of a big name Premiership player who is out of favour using the loan system to get games under his belt and Aaron Ramsey and Giovani Dos Santos are two Premiership stars that have used loan spells in the Championship to get valuable competitive game time to help their recovery from injury.
It doesn't only help the players, the smaller clubs benefit because they are getting quality players in without spending huge transfer fees that in todays game may be beyond them and in some cases, like in the Craig Bellamy loan switch from Man City to Cardiff the parent club will also foot the vast majority of the players wages. On the other hand they may simply want cover for injuries and suspensions.
But whats in it for the parent club ? it varies. Some want the player in question to play games, they may want, as is suspected in the Bellamy case,what they feel is a disruptive influence out of the way, they may hope a successful loan spell will lead to a permanent transfer, they may want a player who is currently out of favour to stay match fit rather than rotting in the reserves.
I think many will agree that loan signings benefit all parties, so when do they become a bad thing ? In my opinion it's when you have too many at one time, recent examples of this come from East Anglia where Ipswich Town recently parted company with Roy Keane. Many of the fans believe that he relied too heavily on the loan market, at one point having 6 loanees in his squad, Down the road Norwich City supporters feel one of the main contributing factors to their relegation to League 1 in 2009 was manager Glenn Roeders heavy reliance of loan signings having as many as 8 at one point.It has also been argued by fans on more than one occasion that loan players do not care as much as a permanent member of the squad.
When used properly though, the right loan signing at the right time can be season defining and earn the player in question hero status amongst the supporters.