Whether it’s a short-term fix or a punt on getting a permanent deal further down the line, loan signings are a key part of every transfer window in Scotland.
Let’s face it, clubs north of the border just can’t pay the astronomical fees bandied around by their English counterparts, who can wipe their hands of £20million and move on if a signing doesn’t work out.
That’s where the loan deal comes in, allowing Scottish sides to snap up talent that might otherwise be unavailable, or to simply take a gamble on an unknown quantity.
And there’s certainly been a few crackers over the years. From players who have gone on to really establish themselves at the club to those who achieve cult-hero status with short but sensational stints.
With the January window in full swing and clubs all over the country bringing in loan recruits, Record Sport Online takes a look at five of the most memorable, both past and present…
Steven Davis (Fulham to Rangers)
Brought in on a temporary basis on the final day of the January 2008 window, Davis made an immediate impact at Ibrox as he helped the club to a Scottish Cup and League Cup double as well as a run to the UEFA Cup Final.
What better indicator of a successful loan switch could there be than the £3million Rangers forked out to make Davis’ deal permanent just a few months later?
The Northern Irishman added three consecutive league winners’ medals, another two league cups and one Scottish Cup to his collection as the Light Blues enjoyed a dominant period at the turn of the decade.
He was also made temporary captain in David Weir’s absence at the start of the 2011/12 season by new boss Ally McCoist, who had taken over the role from Walter Smith.
After making almost 200 appearances for the club, Davis headed back to England with Southampton in 2012, but few players have made as much of an impact in Govan since.
Ryan Christie (Celtic to Aberdeen)
“How do we replace James Maddison?” was the question on every Aberdeen fan’s lips as we entered 2017, with the 21-year-old playmaker returning to Norwich City after a brief but dazzling spell in the Granite City.
Step forward Ryan Christie. Celtic snapped up the youngster after he starred for Inverness Caley Thistle en-route to their famous Scottish Cup win in 2015.
He was immediately loaned back to the Highland club but that stint was ended by a knee injury in November 2015 and despite making his Hoops debut just a few months later, there wasn’t yet a regular spot for Christie at Parkhead.
With the Dons in need of a mercurial talent to replace Maddison and Christie in need of some regular action, it looked a match made in heaven and it’s certainly panned out that way since.
Christie hit seven goals in 15 appearances during the second half of the 2016/17 season as the Dons secured another second place finish in the Premiership and narrowly missed out on Scottish Cup glory.
Ricardo Fuller (Tivoli Gardens to Hearts)
In the absence of social media and a dearth of Jamaican football coverage all the way back in 2002, Hearts fans would likely have known little to nothing about Ricardo Fuller when was drafted in from Tivoli Gardens to help turn around their season.
The maverick striker hit the net eight times during his short stint in Gorgie, finishing the season as the club’s joint top scorer despite only playing just over half the campaign.
Die-hard Jambos will still recall Fuller’s mesmerising solo effort in a 3-1 win over Motherwell, picking up the ball in his own half and turning opponents inside out before slotting into an empty net.
The quintessential impact signing, Fuller’s time at Tynecastle came and went in a flash before he eventually ended up starring for Stoke City in the English Premier League.
He was last seen turning out for a Sunday league outfit down south – turning up 10 minutes late, scoring a penalty and leaving before the final whistle.
Patrick Roberts (Manchester City to Celtic)
Compared to the huge fanfare that greeted long-awaited his return in the summer, Roberts’ initial January 2016 arrival at Celtic was pretty low-key.
In fact, he was given a run-out for the U-20s before breaking into Ronny Deila’s first team. But as soon as the 21-year-old from Manchester City started tying up defenders it was clear to see Celtic had unearthed a gem.
Roberts hit seven goals in his 12 appearances and went from strength to strength when Brendan Rodgers took the helm for the now legendary 2016/17 Invincible season.
Dubbed ‘PR7’ as he extended his loan deal for another year back in August, Roberts has been plagued by injuries so far this term. But regardless of what happens from here on out, he’s already cemented himself as one of the most memorable loan captures of recent times.
Anthony Stokes (Arsenal to Falkirk)
Yes, we know all about Stokes’ exploits for Celtic and Hibs in recent years – but remember when he turned up at Falkirk as an 18-year-old and lit the place up?
A then teenage Irishman hit back-to-back hat-tricks for the Bairns during an incredible run that ended with 16 goals in 18 appearances.
It made him the first player to score successive trebles in the SPL, while he also bagged the equaliser as Falkirk upset Celtic in the 2006 League Cup.
His free-scoring exploits inevitably meant his stint with John Hughes’ side would be a short one as Arsenal recalled the striker and promptly sold him to Sunderland for £2million in January 2007.
But before he left Scotland, for a while at least, Stokes signed off with another hat-trick in a win over Inverness and left for England while perched at the summit of the league’s goalscoring charts.
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