AS the 2021-22 season hurtles towards its conclusion, we are just a few weeks from a long-established pattern kicking in all over again: the campaign’s winners and losers will be lauded and lambasted, then, almost immediately, talk will turn to the transfer market and who the summer’s big-money signings will be.
There are several players already on the books of the Premier League’s biggest clubs who could have the feel of new signings for 2022-23, however.
Here, we’ve picked out five players currently on loan from Big Six sides who could make an impact upon returning to their parent clubs next season.
Conor Gallagher – Chelsea (on loan at Crystal Palace)
One of the breakout stars of the Premier League this term, Conor Gallagher has so impressed on loan at Crystal Palace that the 22-year-old has become a full England international before even having played a senior game for parent club Chelsea.
The all-action midfielder has been instrumental in Patrick Vieira’s young side achieving what is shaping up to be a very comfortable mid-table league finish and a run to the semi-finals of the FA Cup – where they will meet Chelsea.
Gallagher spent last season on loan in the top flight with West Bromwich Albion, but he has made huge developmental strides at Selhurst Park, returning a career-high tally of eight league goals and consistently showing the capabilities to compete for a place within Chelsea’s midfield should he get the chance in 2022-23.
🗣 "I can't stop him and I don't want to stop him."
Patrick Vieira on Conor Gallagher's energy that drives the team and fans on at Crystal Palace pic.twitter.com/0uG6NVx9YU
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) March 15, 2022
James Garner – Manchester United (on loan at Nottingham Forest)
The centre of Manchester United’s midfield has been a problem area for the 20-time champions for a number of years. At great expense, many players have been tried in the position and few have looked the part.
That is why 21-year-old James Garner, who has impressed on loan in the Championship with Nottingham Forest this season, should at least be considered for a run in the Old Trafford first team.
The England youth international has been key to the East Midlands side’s rise to play-off contention this season, providing two goals and five assists in his last 10 games, while also standing out in last weekend’s FA Cup quarter-final defeat to Liverpool.
William Saliba – Arsenal (on loan at Marseille)
Twenty-year-old centre-back William Saliba has been an Arsenal player for almost three years, signed from Saint-Etienne for £27m in the summer of 2019, but he is yet to make a single appearance for the Gunners’ first team.
After being loaned back to Saint-Etienne for the 2019-20 campaign, he spent last term with Nice before heading to Marseille for the current season, and the gifted young defender has shone in Ligue 1, recently earning his first senior France call-up.
Only Nice have conceded fewer goals in the French top flight in 2021-22 than Marseille, and Saliba has been a linchpin at the back as l’OM have risen to second in the table. His form should earn him consideration for a place alongside Ben White in Mikel Arteta’s backline next season.
Billy Gilmour – Chelsea (on loan at Norwich City)
It’s fair to say Billy Gilmour’s loan switch to Norwich hasn’t quite lived up to expectations for any party thus far.
Gilmour thrives when able to dictate possession and probe from the middle of the park, touching the ball often and making decisive and incisive contributions. That has been difficult within a Norwich side who have struggled at the bottom of the Premier League table all season, overrun by higher-calibre opposition.
But the Scottish midfielder’s gifts are beyond doubt. He has already proven he can shine at first-team level for his parent club, having made 22 senior appearances across the previous two seasons. Perhaps a return to Stamford Bridge could bring the best out of the 20-year-old playmaker once more.
Billy Gilmour has been called up for Scotland for 2 friendlies during the international break. ✅👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/zhY0fUofJ0
— Chelsea Loan Army (@ChelseaLoanArmy) March 15, 2022
Julian Alvarez – Manchester City (on loan at River Plate)
Even as City cling to their slender one-point advantage in the Premier League title race, there is already speculation over their summer business.
The reigning champions attempted to spend big on a striker last summer but failed in their efforts to land Harry Kane from Tottenham. This year, they are being linked with a blockbuster move for Borussia Dortmund superstar Erling Haaland.
But City’s lack of a prolific goal-scorer might already have been addressed through the £14m January purchase from River Plate of Julian Alvarez, who has been loaned back to the Argentinian club until July.
The versatile 22-year-old forward can play across the front line of attack but has become increasingly proficient as an out-and-out goal-scorer over the last 18 months. He finished as the Primera Division’s top scorer as River claimed the Argentinian title in 2021, netting 20 goals in 35 games, and was named South American Player of the Year.
Although diminutive at 5ft 7ins, Alvarez’s pace, movement and deadly finishing make him an exciting prospect for Pep Guardiola’s side.