Match experience increases a player's current ability and is a vital component of player development. Without sufficient experience a player is unlikely to come close to reaching his potential ability.
Two factors affect how useful a player's match experience is and therefore how much it will allow him to improve. These are:
How much match experience is gained - the more experience he gains the more his current ability will improve.
The quality of the match experience that is gained - this is determined by the level of the league division or cup competition that he plays in. The higher the level the more his current ability will improve. In addition, the higher his current ability is the higher the level he will need to play at in order for it to increase significantly further. A player will gain experience playing for your youth and reserve squads, but will gain better experience from playing for your senior squad or for other clubs on loan, depending on the level that the clubs compete at.
It can be risky to regularly feature developing players in competitive first team matches that your team needs to win. Instead, you may only be able to give a player first team match experience occasionally, generally in matches against poorer opposition. For example, you might start one or two developing players in a league match against a weaker team near the bottom of the division, or several developing players in a cup match against lower division opposition or in an insignificant league match near the end of the season. Similarly, you might bring a developing player on as a substitute if you are winning a match comfortably.
Therefore, to give a developing player sufficient match experience it will often be necessary to send him out on loan to another club.
1. Using the Loan System Effectively
For a loan move to be beneficial to a developing player, the loaning club will need to be competing in a league division that provides him with a challenge, while at the same time he will need to be good enough to be a regular starter at the club.
It is also advisable to keep a player at your own club until he is good enough to secure a loan move to a club that plays at a reasonably high league level relative to his potential ability. For your best prospects who are expected to become good enough to be regular first team players at your club this should ideally be a level similar to that of your club, for example, the same division or the division below. For your lesser prospects it is likely to be a level further down the league system. However, the experience that they gain there can still benefit them and allow you to sell them for a higher price later.
While a player is developing at your club before going out on loan he can benefit from:
Training - this is likely to be far better than what he would receive elsewhere since you would be able to optimise training and tailor it to shape his development as appropriate, while your coaches and facilities are likely to be better than he would experience on loan.
Tutoring - in particular, personality improvements from tutoring will help him to improve more quickly in training, which can make his training more effective at the loaning club if and when he does go out on loan.
Loaning out a player too soon could actually have a negative impact on his development, because although it would allow him to gain more competitive match experience, this experience is likely to be at a less beneficial level and he would also miss out on the training and tutoring that you can provide at your club. On the other hand, however, not loaning out a player soon enough can stall his improvement if you are not able to give him enough match experience in your first team. Therefore, you will need to find the right balance.
If you are able to feature a developing player in your first team matches fairly regularly, say in one in every three matches, including substitute appearances, then keeping him at your club can be the best option for his development, even if he is already good enough to secure a decent loan. You may want to take this approach for a younger developing player while a slightly older developing player in the same position is out on loan.
1.1. Monitoring Loans
You should keep a close eye on the developing players who you have out on loan and consider recalling any who are not playing regularly.
You can view a list of players on loan on the Loans tab of the Transfers screen, while you can ask one of your scouts to provide match reports on a player you have loaned out by selecting Get Match Reports from the player's Reports drop-down.
1.2. Players Returning From Loan
When a player comes back from loan he may be good enough to earn a place in your senior squad. If not, and if he has not yet reached his potential ability, then to develop him further you can either loan him out again or give him another spell of training and possibly tutoring at your club which could potentially allow him to attract a loan offer from a better club than he was at previously.
If a player appears to have reached or almost reached his potential ability but is not good enough for your senior squad then you should consider selling him before his contract nears expiry.
The Player Wages guide explains how to manage player contracts. In particular, renewing the contracts of developing players before they get to within two years of expiry will help you to sell the players you have developed at higher prices, as well as helping you to secure those players who you want to keep. You do not need to wait until a player has returned from loan before offering him a new contract.
2. How to Loan Out Players
A player can be loaned out by either offering him to clubs for loan or sending him to an affiliated club. Both methods are explained below.
2.1. Offering Players for Loan
You can offer a player for loan from the Offer to Clubs section of his Transfer tab by selecting Loan Offer from the drop-down in the top-left corner.
The terms you choose on this screen will form your offer and be the starting point for negotiations with any bidding clubs. A bidding club may respond by offering different terms, although you can make any term non-negotiable using the padlock icon next to the term, or the entire offer non-negotiable by using the padlock icon at the bottom of the screen. However, a bidding club may accept your terms and make their own offer non-negotiable, meaning that it is important to make sure that you set terms that you are happy with.
In general, when selling or loaning out a player it is advisable to offer terms that allow you room to negotiate lower. If no clubs make a bid then you can try again by offering lower terms. This can help you to avoid undervaluing a player. However, when loaning out a developing player in particular, it can be beneficial to encourage more clubs to bid so that you will have more choice as to where the player goes. Therefore, you may want to offer terms that are more favourable to bidding clubs. Advice on setting each term is given below.
Any offers that are made for your player will be received in your inbox. From here you can accept the offer, modify the terms (where made negotiable by both you and the bidding club) and suggest your new terms, or reject the offer. You can also click View Offer to see the terms of the offer in a full screen view, along with related information, on the player's Transfer Offer screen. In addition, you can manage multiple offers on the Transfer Centre tab of the Transfers screen.
Monthly Fee - This is an amount that the loaning club will pay your club each month during the loan. For a developing player it is generally best not to request a fee because the player may be unproven and you want to encourage more offers to be made.
Wages - This is the percentage of the player's wages that the loaning club will pay during the loan. For a developing player it is advisable to request a low enough wages percentage to be affordable to clubs at the league level that you want to loan him to. You may want to check the general wages for players at this level before setting the percentage. Alternatively, you may want to set 0% in order to increase the number of offers you receive.
Duration - This is the amount of time that the loan will last for if you do not recall the player earlier. You may want to set the duration so that the loan ends during a transfer window, as this will allow you to loan out the player again on his return if you wish. Transfer window dates are shown on the Rules section of the Overview tab for each league division.
If you are offering a more established player for loan, perhaps in order to try to temporarily remove him from your wage bill or give him playing time that he will not get at your club due to competition for places, then you may want to request a monthly fee and a higher wages percentage.
Future Fee - This is an amount that the loaning club will be able to offer as a transfer fee for the player during the loan without requiring you to accept the offer. They would still need to successfully agree a contract with the player in order to sign him. You should only set a future fee if you are happy to sell the player at a certain price. This can be useful, for example, if you do not expect a player to be good enough for your senior squad at any point, especially if you are struggling to sell him.
Future Buy Back Fee - This is a future fee that your club will be able to utilise in the same way as the future fee clause if the loaning club go on to buy the player using the future fee clause. It can be useful if you believe that there is a chance you will want to sign the player back, especially if he is still developing and may improve further after being bought by the loaning club. However, the use of this clause will make the future fee clause less appealing to the bidding club.
Squad Status - This is the squad status that the player will be given by the loaning club. For a developing player it should be set to First Team or Key Player and you should only accept bids from clubs that offer one of these squad statuses. This is to increase the likelihood that the player will be given enough first team match experience to make the loan worthwhile. So as not to overly restrict the choice of bidding clubs you may want to request the First Team squad status rather than Key Player and then check the quality of the players already at the club who play in the player's position, as discussed further in the context of choosing a loan club below.
For a more established player a lower squad status can be acceptable, for example, if you want to loan a player to remove him from the wage bill or because you are hoping the loaning club will buy him for a set future fee.
Preferred Position - This is the position or positions that the loaning club should play the player in most frequently. For a developing player you may want to request that he is played in a position for which he has natural or accomplished familiarity, as this will increase the likelihood of him performing well and retaining a place in the loaning club's team during the loan. However, again you should check the quality of the players already at the club who play in that position. Another option is to specify a position that he has a fair amount of familiarity with but for which there is less competition in the bidding club's squad. This clause is not as important as the squad status clause though, and so it is worth considering an offer from a club that proposes a different preferred position, or no preferred position, if other factors make the offer favourable. A player's position familiarity can be viewed on the Information section of his Overview tab.
Can play in cup matches - This allows the player to play in cup competitions during the loan, which can result in him being cup-tied on his return to your club and so unable to feature in cup competitions that he has already played in for the loaning club. You should include this option unless you believe that you may need the player to remain eligible for a particular cup competition that the loaning club also competes in.
Can play against own team - This allows the player to play in any match against your club during the loan. You should include this option unless the loaning club competes in the same competition as your club and you wish to place that team at a slight disadvantage in any match between the two clubs.
Can be recalled - This allows you to terminate the loan and bring the player back to your club at any point. For a developing player it is advisable to always include this option so that you can end the loan if the player is not playing regularly.
Choosing a Suitable Loan Club
In addition to the terms of the loan offers that you receive, it is very important to consider the suitability of the bidding clubs themselves before selecting an offer to accept, especially when loaning out developing players. Such assessments will increase the likelihood of loan moves being beneficial.
You should consider the following aspects:
The league level at which each club plays - For a developing player you should ideally only accept offers from clubs where the player would be playing at a challenging level. To help you gain an understanding of the level a player should be playing at you can check your coaches' opinions of the player's current ability on the Coach Report section of the player's Reports tab. There will be a reference to a particular league division under the heading Current Ability (Division) in either the Pros or Cons. To help you compare the levels of foreign divisions with domestic divisions you can check the Competition Reputation panel on the Profile section of each competition's Overview tab.
How likely the player is to play regularly - For a developing player you should ideally only accept offers from clubs where the player is likely to be a regular first team starter. Firstly, you should consider the squad status given in each loan offer as discussed above. However, for extra assurance it is advisable to also check the quality of the players already at the bidding clubs who play in the preferred position (or positions) that have been specified in the loan offers or, if no such positions are specified, the positions that the player has the most familiarity with. This will help you to assess the level of competition for places at each club and therefore how likely the player is to play regularly.
The quality of training - For a developing player it is advisable to give a higher preference to clubs that have higher quality training facilities and higher quality coaches so that the player will perform better in training. This is perhaps slightly less important if your own club provides a good quality of training, as the player can benefit from this before and after his loan. If you do not consider the facilities and coaches at any of the bidding clubs to be good enough compared to those at other clubs at the targeted league level then you may prefer to wait until he can attract an offer from a club with better facilities and coaches, perhaps after improving further and receiving further tutoring at your club.
The quality of the manager - It can be beneficial to give a higher preference to clubs that have a manager with good staff attributes who can get better performances from players in matches and training. In particular, a manager's Working With Youngsters attribute is worth considering when loaning a young player and his Man Management attribute when loaning slightly older players.
The effects of relevant staff attributes are explained in the Coaches guide.
2.2. Loaning to an Affiliated Club
Your club's current affiliated clubs are shown on the Affiliated Clubs section of the Affiliates tab of the Club screen. You are able to send players on loan to those clubs where this is stated in the list of terms of the affiliate relationship on the central panel.
Obtaining an Affiliate
If your club does not already have a suitable affiliate then you can ask your club's board to look for one using the Look For Affiliate Club button. You can then choose from a number of reasons for requesting an affiliate and, if they agree with you, the board will search for an appropriate options. Therefore, if you want a club to loan players to then you should give this as your reason to the board.
After a few weeks you will be given the opportunity to recommend a club from those that the board have found. The board will then take your suggestion into account when choosing the affiliate. For affiliates that you want to loan players to it is advisable to base your recommendation on the reputation of the division in which each club plays and the standard of each club's training facilities.
It can be useful to have two types of affiliate for giving players experience on loan if possible. One can be used for your better prospects and could perhaps be just one league division below your own club, while the other can be used for your lesser prospects and could perhaps be two or three divisions below your club.
Sending a Player to an Affiliate
To send a player to an affiliate select Move to Affiliate from the player's Development drop-down and then choose the club you want to send him to. The loan will only go ahead if the player accepts the offer to go on loan.
As with a normal loan, you should assess whether the player is likely to be given regular matches. The affiliate will give you an idea of this before you confirm the terms of the loan, although it is again advisable to check the quality of players in the same position already at the club.
There are fewer terms available to set than for a normal loan, as most terms are determined by the terms of the affiliate relationship. For example, the conditions may state that your club will pay the player's wages and that the player can be recalled to your club at any time. You will only have the option to set the duration of the loan and the preferred position for the player.