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Five U23 loanees to keep an eye on in the 21/22 season


The 2021 summer transfer window has already seen several interesting loan deals exchanged between clubs for the upcoming season.

Gaining regular game time is important for youngsters to break the ceiling between youth football and senior football. For others, it’s about getting regular minutes away from their parent club. There were a few notable loan spells last term.

Jesse Lingard’s loan spell at West Ham United last year was a success for him, to say the least. The Man Utd midfielder had 9 goals and 4 assists by the time he returned to Old Trafford. Even now, he remains a target for the Hammers for a permanent move.

Similarly, Joe Willock enjoyed great success at Newcastle United which resulted in a permanent move for him away from Arsenal.

Bryan Gil’s loan spell at Eibar drew several plaudits and the Spanish international was quickly snapped by Tottenham from his parent club, Seville.

Ahead of the 21/22 season, FTF takes a look at five U23 players who could be well worth keeping an eye on during their loan spell.

Jens Petter Hauge – Eintracht Frankfurt

Norwegian sensation Jens Petter Hauge had seemingly completed the move of his dreams when he joined AC Milan in January. However, for whatever reason, things did not work out for Hauge at the San Siro. Now, he has a chance for a fresh start on loan in the Bundesliga with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Comfortable playing on either flank and primarily a right-sided forward, the Bundesliga might be the best environment for Hauge’s development.

Given that Eintracht Frankfurt themselves are in a moment of change, it may allow Hauge to cement himself in the first team under Oliver Glasner.

In Eintracht’s usual 3-4-2-1 setup, Hauge could fit in on the right and could operate closer to the half-spaces in the central areas, which is what he enjoys doing.

Hauge’s shot map for Bodo Glimt | Source: Wyscout

Daichi Kamada, Rafael Santos Borre and Jens Petter Hauge could form a new-look fresh Eintracht trio that could light up the German top flight this year.

He was head and shoulders above the best talents in the Eliteserien in the 2020 season. Averaging 0.84 Expected Goals and Assists per90, which was the best for all U23 Eliteserien players. Behind him was Faris Moumbagna playing for Kristiansund with 0.58 xG+xA per90.

Hauge’s shot map clearly shows the Norwegians’ preference to cut in from the left and get shots away with his right foot. What’s also encouraging is that an ample amount of shots came from within the penalty box as well.

Hauge’s Heatmap for Bodo Glimt | Source: Wyscout

Aside from this, Hauge ranks very highly in a number of important ball progression indicators and key offensive metrics. Eintracht will surely benefit from giving him the minutes he deserves.

The club’s track record in developing attackers is outstanding and they will hope that Hauge can be their next big success story.

Taylor Harwood-Bellis – RSC Anderlecht

Manchester City youth prodigy Taylor Harwood-Bellis is highly rated, to say the least. Many in the City camp believe he is future club captain material. Comparisons to Vincent Kompany have been made time and again.

Earlier this year, Harwood-Bellis spent the second half of the 20/21 season on loan at Blackburn Rovers. Accumulating important senior minutes, Harwood-Bellis’ great potential was on display for the Rovers.

When compared with U23 CBs in the Championship, Harwood-Bellis averaged 8.19 PAdj Interceptions per90. He was the sixth-best in the league for this metric.

Harwood-Bellis’ heatmap for Blackburn | Source: Wyscout

Harwood-Bellis showed good composure at the back in his defending. Even though he was not the most aggressive in engaging in defensive duels, his success rate of 78.49% was the best in the league for U23 CBs.

Comfortable playing either on the left side or the right, Harwood-Bellis also deputised at right fullback for Blackburn last season.

Though, there is little doubt that Harwood-Bellis’ future lies at centre back. And who better to learn from than his parent club’s former legend, Vincent Kompany.

The Belgian is currently at the helm on Anderlecht. No doubt the young Englishman will look up to him for guidance. Harwood-Bellis at 19 is the youngest centre back of Anderlecht’s contingent. Wesley Hoedt, the former Lazio and Southampton defender is the oldest at 27.

After doing well in the Championship, it should be interesting to see how Harwood-Bellis’ talents scale in the Belgian first division. Certainly, a player to keep an eye on for now and the future.

Francisco Trincão – Wolverhampton Wanderers

Perhaps one of the more surprising loan moves of the summer window, Francisco Trincão joined Bruno Lage’s Wolves team in the hope of getting more first-team minutes.

With all the issues on and off the pitch for Barcelona, Trincão probably could have played a significant role for Ronald Koeman’s side this season.

Nonetheless, now at the Molineux, Trincão will be hoping to add more strings to his arsenal of skills.

The Portuguese winger has always had technique of very high quality and in some of his best moments for Barcelona, it showed.

Lage has a very strong Portuguese contingent at Wolves, however, in Trincão, Wolves have a player whose technique is of a very high standard.

Cutting infield into more dangerous areas from the right-wing, Trincão’s strengths in possession are immense.


Trincão ticks the boxes for a lot of the things you desire in an exciting winger. The Portuguese international averages 4.62 dribbles per90, boasting an impressive success rate of 61%.

Not only that, Trincão excels in his ability to progress the ball as well. Averaging 9.23 progressive carries per90 and 3.08 progressive passes last year, according to football reference. These numbers put him up there alongside some of La Liga’s most exciting wingers, including Bryan, Javier Ontiveros, Samuel Chukwueze and Ousmane Dembele.

At Wolves, Trincão might not be just another loanee. Given that Pedro Neto will be absent for the foreseeable future due to injury, Trincão can expect to be given significant game time after starting the first game of the season as well.

It will be exciting to see how Trincão fares in the Premier League.

Leo Skiri Østigård – Stoke City

Norway is fast becoming the hotbed for European’s next generation of exciting young footballers. Whilst Erling Haaland and Martin Ødegaard are the poster boys of the current generation, Leo Skiri Østigård might soon follow suit.

After coming through the ranks at Molde, Østigård was scouted by Brighton and Hove Albion in the summer of 2018. Two consecutive loan spells followed for the Norwegian. At FC St.Pauli in 2019 and last year, it was Coventry City in the Championship.

With Ben White’s departure to Arsenal, the pathway to first-team football has become much more clearer for Østigård.

His contract with the Seagulls expires in the summer of 2022 though. If he isn’t able to secure first-team football, he will not be short of suitors.

This excellent graphic underlines from Liam Henshaw highlights Østigård’s development at Coventry City.

Comfortable playing as part of a back four or the centre of a back three, Østigård would fit Brighton’s defence like a glove.

At Stoke, he could not have asked for a better start after scoring against Swansea in a 3-1 victory.

Kristoffer Ajer now plays in the Premier League with Brentford and Østigård may not be far away from doing the same. It is only a matter of when rather than if he makes it to the very top.

Ali Akman – NEC Mijmegen

Ali Akman’s rise has been exciting to follow.

The 18-year-old has been hailed as the Turkish Sergio Aguero and there are similarities there to be seen.

Eintracht Frankfurt were quick to spot his talents in the Turkish second division after he scored 10 goals and made three assists.

This felt like another major coup for Akman given all the rave reviews about his talents.

Former Eintracht sporting director Fredi Bobic said, ” With Ali Akman, we have won one of the greatest talents in Turkish football.”

These are big words of praise and are well-deserved, to say the least.

With Akman’s development in mind and with all the changes this summer at Eintracht, a loan spell away was probably the best for him.

NIC Nijmegen in the Eredivisie was Akman’s destination. And in his full debut for the club, Akman did not disappoint.

Scoring Nijmegen’s quickest goal in their Eredivisie history within the first four minutes against PEC Zwolle. A cool finish with the outside of his right foot to slot it past the helpless keeper.

Ali Akman has big potential in his future. If that goal is a sign of things to come, then Nijmegen fans are going to enjoy a real gem for the rest of the season.

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