Top 10: Potential Loan Signings

Earlier this year, we had a look at some of the free agents who may have been available for Plymouth Argyle to sign during this transfer window. Now most of them have found their respective clubs, and some have indeed settled at Home Park. But the transfer window still has a little way to run yet.

With most squads nearly finalised, it’s likely that clubs will be looking at players available on loan to fit the final piece of the jigsaw. We’ve looked at ten who could prove to be a good fit for the Greens.

Daniel Barlaser

Club: Newcastle United
Age: 23
Position: Central midfield

Do Argyle need another central midfielder? Possibly not but with Ben Reeves slow to return to fitness and Pantuche Camara a little hot and cold, one more couldn’t hurt if the budget was available. Daniel Barlaser is a player who would definitely add something to the Greens: a natural right footer, on his natural side. Danny Mayor has a wand of a right foot, of course, but he mostly uses it to cut in from the left, rather than play like a conventional playmaker.

There was a time where Barlaser was seen the promising young future of the North East, making his debut for Newcastle in 2017. Since then, it would be fair to say his career hasn’t pushed on quite how he’d like. That’s not to say his loan spells haven’t been successful – they have. But, at 24 in January, the chances of him becoming a Newcastle regular now look slender.

Still, as a regular for Accrington in their first season back in League One, he impressed and earned a better move to Rotherham the next season. He impressed there too, with Millers manager Paul Warne hoping to win him back. Whether Argyle can compete with a Championship side is…doubtful if we’re honest but you never know. Maybe Hallett’s £3.5m investment stretches further than we first thought.

 

Callum Connolly

Club: Everton
Age: 23
Position: Defensive midfield

With the obvious connection to the Scouse outfit of Everton, Callum Connolly is certainly a plausible option. The heavily versatile individual spent last season on loan in League One at Fleetwood Town where he featured a total of 24 times in the league. Despite being a relatively tender 23 years of age, Connolly comes equipped with plenty of experience under his belt after spells with both Wigan and Ipswich saw him play frequently. The utility man has amassed a total of 84 appearances in the Championship.

You may have noticed I have failed to mention Connolly’s position in this summary and there is a reason for that. Whilst he’s listed as a defensive midfielder, Connolly is the definition of a utility man; he has more tricks up his sleeve than your local plumber. Therefore, it is very difficult to pin him down to one position.

During his career Connolly has operated as both fullbacks, a centre half as well a defensive midfielder. Primarily it seems that he is deployed within either a defensive midfielder role or centrally in the back line, although he is certainly adept within the wide areas of the back line, particularly in Argyle’s system.

 

Jack Diamond

Club: Sunderland
Age: 20
Position: Winger

Sunderland’s Jack Diamond has been one of few shining lights for Sunderland’s U23 side in recent seasons which has generally struggled in Premier League 2.

The wide player also impressed last season on loan at Harrogate Town in the National League and helped the Sulphurites into the football league.

While more at home on the wing, rather than wing-back, he has featured at wing-back for both Sunderland and Sunderland’s U23 side since returning in the summer, and before his loan spell last season.

As Diamond is contracted to another League One club, you could argue that if he was good enough for League One he’d be playing for Sunderland, but he is on the fringes of the first team on Wearside this season and could play more regularly and make a bigger impact at another League One club.

Whether Sunderland would allow Diamond to go out on loan is another matter, Harrogate were keen to bring Diamond back for another spell this season, but Sunderland kept him at the club. For now.

 

Stephen Walker

Club: Middlesbrough
Age: 19
Position: Attacking midfielder/winger

In comparison to other players on this list Stephen Walker comes with fair bit less in terms of first team. Brief spells at Milton Keynes and Crewe have seen him amass a total of 13 appearances whilst also featuring 10 times for Middlesbrough. That may look like a decent spell at Boro, but the winger has only accumulated a total of 134 minutes of League action for the Teeside outfit.

Despite this criticism maybe we should give Walker some credit as he is, after all, only 19 years of age. He can operate as a pacey wide man or an effective second striker, and he demonstrates an excellent turn of pace aligned with some neat dribbling.

Walker would most likely come in as back up to both wide positions and certainly fits the mould of the “George Cooper transformation” model: naturally a more attacking minded player who could have the potentially to be converted to a member of the back line. Although Walker is deployable as a second striker the large amount of depth in that position would indicate that the youngster would be used as a wing back.

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Ryan East

Club: Reading
Age: 22
Position: Defensive midfield

Reading’s Ryan East is a player not likely to be familiar to many, having very little experience of league football for a 22-year-old.

The defensive midfielder has just 63 minutes of Championship football to his name, having started for Reading against Leeds United in March 2019, but has played many times for, and captained on occasion, Reading U23s in Premier League 2 Division 2.

East is a very similar player to David Fox. His strengths are in his passing, and his range of passing, but he is also good at winning back possession.

The midfielder’s contract at Reading expires in the summer meaning this could be East’s last chance to impress the Royals if he is to earn a new deal, and he is more likely to achieve that in League One rather than playing Under 23 football.

While defensive midfield may not be Argyle’s most important position to strengthen, if Edwards is being used at wing-back that leaves little in the way of cover or competition for Lewis MacLeod, which is something East could come in and provide.

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Elliot Anderson

Club: Newcastle United
Age: 17
Position: Central midfield/winger

How about this one for a bolt from the blue? At 17, he’s by far the least experienced player on this list, let alone on the market as a whole. He has made precisely 0 professional league appearances, either in the Football League or indeed the Premier League, where his current club resides for now at least. But don’t be fooled by any of that: the Toon Army rate this one highly.

Anderson is building a reputation as a goalscoring midfielder on Tyneside. He notched 3 in 9 Premier League 2 games last season, and most notably got his first goal in professional football in an EFL Trophy game for the Magpies’ youngsters against Port Vale. That goal came while he was playing on the left of midfield, pointing to a versatility that could be quite the asset for Lowe’s Argyle.

Anderson isn’t the finished article – talk about him in five years’ time and he still won’t be the finished article. But he’s a very exciting young prospect, and there’s every chance Newcastle will want him to be playing regularly. Lowe’s style could make Argyle an attractive destination should Newcastle put him in the shop window.

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Timmy Abraham

Club: Fulham
Age: 19
Position: Striker

The idea is fool-proof: we’ll take Fulham’s exciting young striker Timmy Abraham on loan. We’ll pretend we’ve nabbed his older brother Tammy from Chelsea and scare all opposition defences to death. We’ll win every game and gain promotion to the Championship.

Ok, maybe not. But there’s still a lot of potential benefit to signing Timmy Abraham aside from the potential of mixing him up with his 4-time England international sibling. First of all, he will surely be available – he made four appearances on loan at Bristol Rovers last season, familiarising him with the Westcountry as well as League One football. And if Fulham loaned him out because he was unlikely to get games in the Championship, surely the prospect of games following the Cottagers has diminished yet further following their promotion to the Premier League? I know their start to this season has been terrible, but come on…

Then there’s the benefit he could bring to the squad. Do Argyle need another striker? With four good options there at the moment, perhaps not. But then again, Ryan Lowe always seems to want another striker, and should injury or bad form hit the current crop, Abraham would suddenly look a very shrewd addition indeed.

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Scott Wharton

Club: Blackburn Rovers
Age: 22
Position: Centre back

Scott Wharton may only be a 22-year-old but he already boasts the impressive accomplishment of three promotion medals in a short career so far. He made 11 appearances in the league for Lincoln in the 2018/19 season on loan from Blackburn Rovers and got largely good reviews, however his loan was not extended beyond January of that season. That was mainly due to strong performances from other players meaning it was tough for him to break into the side.

He then went to (where else but) Ryan Lowe’s Bury, who offered him far more regular first team football. The loanee was a crucial part of seeing The Shakers over the line to a promotion that they sadly never saw the fruits of. He’s proved he can play in a three at the back, high intensity attacking system, alongside Will Aimson no less.

Last season, he had a season long loan and another promotion, this time at Northampton. He even did as well as to win the League Two Player of the Month for November.

Wharton made a point in pre-season of saying that he wanted to be considered for selection in Tony Mowbray’s side, but Blackburn’s good start to the season has thus far prevented opportunities. Argyle have six centre-backs already but with Sawyer out for months and the situation unknown with Will Aimson, perhaps another loanee to bolster the ranks may be of use.

 

Steven Benda

Club: Swansea City
Age: 21
Position: Goalkeeper

German ‘keeper Steven Benda may have a name that lends itself to sophomoric humour, but he is a mature player for his age.

Exactly a year and a week older than our current number one, Michael Cooper, Benda joined Swansea City from 1860 Munich in 2017, while the Welsh outfit were a Premier League club. Those weren’t his only admirers at the highest level – Liverpool and Aston Villa were both said to be interested in the Stuttgart-born stopper.

He spent last year on loan at Swindon, where he was backed up by Luke McCormick. He was popular among Robins fans, who sung about their “Big F*cking German” in the net – one of the users of Swindon Town’s forum described him as the best goalkeeper since they were in League One with Wes Foderingham.

Benda is a tall goalkeeper, who collects crosses and commands his area adeptly. This distinguishes him from Cooper, who might be tall compared to the average person but is on the shorter side for a professional goalkeeper.

It is, however, hard to foresee Lowe taking the gloves from Cooper so soon. While Cooper’s performances have been patchy so far, it would be a knock to the confidence of such a young player. If Cooper was to be replaced, it would likely be with an experienced ‘keeper, something which the 21-year-old Benda cannot count among his many skills.

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Scott Banks

Club: Crystal Palace
Age: 19
Position: Attacking midfielder/winger

I’ll forgive you for thinking we’ve gone back in time and Derek Adams is the man responsible for sorting transfers at Plymouth Argyle. Scott Banks is a player who has only just turned 19, and his only professional appearances have come north of the border at Clyde and Alloa. A diamond to be found in the Scottish rough certainly does sound familiar.

Banks started his career at Dundee United, before being picked up permanently by Crystal Palace in January – the second of his two loan spells last season came after he moved to Selhurst Park. Thus, there’s every chance he’ll be available before the window slams shut this autumn.

He’s be a surprise signing to say the least. With no disrespect intended, the respective levels of Clyde and Alloa hardly scream League One quality. However, it’s important to note that the player was only 18 a week ago, and has plenty of development and climbing of the pyramid to follow. Lowe’s coaching methods could be ideal for the player and both clubs. It can hardly be claimed he isn’t in form – just ten days ago he scored twice and claimed an assist against West Bromwich Albion in Premier League 2.

Ultimately, this is a fairly low-risk move that may just pay off handsomely. If it does work, Argyle would probably have found somebody to nail down the spot on the right side of midfield that has been rotated in recent weeks.

 


Top 10: Free Agents – Strikers

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Sam Down

Sam is the lead editor for Argyle Life's opinion articles as well as writing match and analysis pieces. He also features on our weekly Green & White podcast. View all posts by Sam Down