Club Focus – Blackburn – Lessons to be learned from Jones and Santa Cruz loan signings

Loan deals are very common in the lower divisions of English football, but they are also relatively popular in the Premier League. For young or unsettled players, a temporary stint at another club can do the world of good. There are also benefits for the club who, more often than not, will have an option to buy the player should he perform well during the short spell. Blackburn Rovers took the opportunity to bring a couple of experienced players in on loan during January; however they failed to negotiate a final fee in both instances. But is that necessarily a bad thing?

American midfielder Jermaine Jones joined Rovers from German side Schalke on a short-term deal until the end of the season. The 29-year-old has been an ever-present in the team since his arrival and is clearly a player Steve Kean rates highly. Yet just this week, Schalke’s new boss Rolf Rangnick has announced he is expecting the midfielder to return to his parent club in the summer.

In this instance, Rovers did well to lure Jones to Ewood Park in January, and it was sensible to bring him in on loan rather than splash the cash and take a risk. However, Kean now faces a situation where he would like to keep the player but did not agree a fee with Schalke in January. Many would argue that this is where Rovers went wrong – they should have negotiated a suitable final fee.

Roque Santa Cruz is at Ewood Park on similar terms. The Paraguayan striker, a former Rovers favourite, looks set to return to Manchester City in the summer. Rovers did not agree to purchase him at the end of the loan spell either, and based on current form they had no need to. But suppose Santa Cruz had scored plenty of goals since January and really helped Rovers climb the table – the Blues would really have been stuck in the summer if that had been the case.

Fortunately, in both these cases, neither player has really shone in a Rovers shirt so far. Kean may be keen on keeping Jones beyond the summer, but in truth his departure from Ewood would hardly put a dent in the manager’s plans for next season. However, the Blues can learn a lesson from these two deals. Although the idea of bringing players in on loan is a good one, it is equally as important to agree a fee for permanent transfer during these negotiations.

Meanwhile, owners Venky’s have promised to stick with Rovers even if the Lancashire outfit are relegated this season. There has been some speculation about their intentions recently, however co-owner Venkatesh Rao says that although he is worried by Rovers’ current league position, Venky’s are committed to the project regardless of which division the Blues are playing in next season.

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