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Loan Tracker: January

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A very busy start to the decade...

Deportivo v Tenerife - La Liga Smartbank Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

The start of this decade provides some real channels for thought. Come the end of it, all of the players on this list will have lived through the best years of their career. Some of them may have created history at Real Madrid, others may look elsewhere for success. Some may even vanish into the depths of the professional game, rarely to be thought of again. All of that starts now. Without playing any games, a few players on this list started the decade off right. Recoveries, goals, promise and transfers await...

The Gold Category

Martin Ødegaard - (Real Sociedad, La Liga)

Appearances: 5

Goals: 1

Assists: 3

In La Liga, Martin had the worst month of his season. Two dilute performances, against good sides in Villarreal and Betis - and a frustrating turnout against struggling Mallorca suggested that his significant early involvement and influence was on the decline. His introduction to the Copa del Rey for Sociedad contradicted that notion, though. One goal, three assists and one man of the match award in two games against two La Liga sides was a phenomenal effort. Against Espanyol his influence was clear, and his link-up play with Alex Isak began to strengthen. Against Osasuna that was taken to another level. He assisted Isak twice, and scored a free-kick that screamed intelligence. This month has put me in two minds about Ødegaard and his future. If Sociedad or his teammates are actively trying to avoid making him the centre of the team for whatever reason (a foolish idea), then I’d prefer he returns to the Real Madrid squad as soon as this summer. However he has further affirmed his aspiration to stay another season. At the level we’ve seen this season or better, this would be fine - but a season’s worth of his January La Liga performances would spell out a problem for his Real Madrid hopes. What do you want to see happen with Martin this summer?

Sergio Reguilón - (Sevilla, La Liga)

Appearances: 4

Goals: 0

Assists: 1

After missing the first league game of the month against Bilbao through suspension, Reguilón returned to the Bernabéu to play his parent club. Sevilla lost 2-1 in a game that is looking to define Real Madrid’s season so far - and Sergio looked more than comfortable in his surroundings. He was back on the assist chart again the next game, slipping in Nolito after a mazy attacking run during a 2-0 win. His cup contributions were more mundane, coming off of the bench late on against Levante - after playing the full match against fourth division side Escobedo. Not a stunning start to the decade from Sergio by any means, but he is certainly keeping his consistent form ticking.

Takefusa Kubo - (Mallorca, La Liga)

Appearances: 4

Goals: 0

Assists: 0

Much like his season, Kubo’s start to the year was very mixed. He started half of the four appearances he made, one being in the surprising 3-1 cup exit to second division side Zaragoza. The other was during the 1-0 league defeat to Granada. He looked bright after coming off of the bench in the 3-1 defeat to Martin Ødegaard’s Real Sociedad - and another positive showing during a ten minute cameo against Valencia in a vital 4-1 win over Valencia could provide him with further starting opportunities going into February. We are over half way through the season now though, and I still don’t think this season has been particularly satisfactory for Kubo so far. There remains enough time to change that, though.

Achraf Hakimi - (Borussia Dortmund, Bundesliga)

Appearances: 2

Goals: 0

Assists: 0

After having the busiest end to the decade out of any of these players, the current star player title holder had just two fixtures to play out with Dortmund in January. He played every minute of both of them, operating on the right hand side of midfield both times without contributing any direct scoring statistics. During January there was talk of Achraf’s future, and some whispers suggested that it might not be destined for a famous white shirt...

The Silver Category

Óscar Rodríguez - (Leganés, La Liga)

Appearances: 5

Goals: 0

Assists: 0

It’s almost suprisring when Óscar doesn’t manage to add to his goal or assist tally within a month, but here we are. Leganés were unable to pull themselves out of the relegation zone, but did manage to hold Atlético Madrid to a draw - a game that Óscar barely played in. The Spaniard did start in the 2-2 draw with Valladolid, and the 3-0 defeat to Getafe. He was also present when his team exited the cup after a 5-0 drubbing from Barcelona. Not a month to remember for Rodríguez, but he may well have a decade to remember very greatly.

Andriy Lunin - (Real Valladolid, La Liga)

Appearances: 4

Clean Sheets: 0

Lunin played one last game for Valladolid in the cup, saving two penalties in a shoot-out to send Valladolid through against third division outfit Marbella. Then, something that we’ve all been wishing for happened. Lunin’s loan to Valladolid was cancelled, and he was rehoused to second division side Real Oviedo. Since the move, he has almost equalled his amount of games played in the past two years in less than one month. He has been unable to keep a clean-sheet as of yet after succumbing to a 2-0 defeat to Guti’s strong Almería. Consecutive 1-1 draws against Huesca and Girona proved just about enough for Oviedo, who are actually struggling badly in the table, sitting just above the relegation zone. Regardless of that fact, Lunin is finally going to see plenty of game time - and it was only two years late.

Javier Sánchez - (Real Valladolid, La Liga)

Appearances: 1

Goals: 0

Assists: 0

Javier sadly was the only player unable to jump the sinking Valladolid ship during January. He did however manage to make his debut, which of course came in the cup against a Tenerife side featuring Dani Gómez. Javier’s former teammate ended up scoring the winner to send Valladolid out of the cup. Where are the defenders chances going to come now?

Jorge De Frutos - (Real Valladolid, La Liga)

Appearances: 5

Goals: 0

Assists: 0

I’ve tried very hard, but I can barely remember a single loan that has actually been cancelled in the past, let alone two from one club. Jorge De Frutos, the player with the most minutes out of any of the Valladolid loan crew was also pulled out of the failed project. He joined Lunin in playing one last game during the Marbella victory, coming off of the bench - before leaving the club for good, and signing with second tier club Rayo Vallecano. It took him less than month to almost equal his season appearances for Valladolid for his new side. Vallecano are stranded in mid-table, and are not looking for much in the way of promotion, but this should provide a strong opportunity for De Frutos to prove his worth at a good club.

The Bronze Category

Borja Mayoral - (Levante, La Liga)

Apperances: 4

Goals: 0

Assists: 0

I am eager to know the destiny of few players more than Borja Mayoral for this decade. The once prodigy from the Real Madrid academy has panned out a tad despite making his way to the top standard. No goals to start the decade off with a bang will not be what he had hoped for. What’s worse, is that Levante lost all four of those games, flying out of the cup - and reigniting some relegation worries. Besides this there was nothing really worth noting from the man himself. He unquestionably has the ability to become a very useful player at the top, but will he ever actually utilise his skillset to reach those levels?

Alberto Soro - (Real Zaragoza, La Liga123)

Appearances: 5

Goals: 0

Assists: 3

Soro looked decent this month, including a cameo against the club he may never play for - Real Madrid. Assists in comfortable 3-1 wins over Gimnàstic de Tarragona and Mallorca in the cup set up the dream fixture against Madrid - which ended up being a 4-0 pasting. Soro stood his ground well, but to me confirmed what was already confirmed thrice over: that his “transfer” to Madrid makes no logical sense whatsoever. A further assist in the league against Gijón did nothing to alter my thoughts on that. Still, he looks a real talent from this case study.

Dani Gómez - (Tenerife, La Liga123)

Appearances: 8

Goals: 3

Assists: 1

Like many Dani Gómez has had a varied start to the season at his loan club, but this month he really pushed the boat out. It all started against Luis Miguel Ramis’ Albacete in the league; a game that saw him claim both a goal and an assist in a fantastic performance. He would then score a penalty in a shoot-out to knock Rayo Majadahonda out of the cup. Despite playing every minute possible, he would not add to his goal tally in the league against Huesca (2-1 loss), Girona (1-0 win), Las Palmas (0-0 draw) or Gijón (2-1 win). His cup antics created a very different story, though. He scored the winning goal against La Liga side Valladolid in the cup from the spot, and was on target again against Athletic Bilbao in the next round. This goal looked like it was going to be the winner in extra-time, but Bilbao fought back and ended up winning the round on penalties. Dani is receiving plenty of minutes now, and is starting to look like a proper starter. I’m more than elated to be able to award him January’s star player of the month title.

Deportivo v Tenerife - La Liga Smartbank Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

The White Category

Sergio Díaz - (Cerro Porteño, Paraguayan Primera División)

Appearances: 0

Goals: 0

Assists: 0

It looks like a quiet month for Sergio, but in reality Cerro’s season has barely begun - and the slowly reemerging talent spent the majority of the month with Paraguay’s under 23 side. He almost locked horns with Reinier Jesus as Paraguay took on Brazil, but both started on the bench and only Díaz came on. He also scored for his country, albeit via a deflection against Pero. At this rate, come the end of the European season Sergio should miraculously be in good shape once again, and looking to either return home on a full time basis or challenge himself at a higher level once again. Either way, it poses a win-win situation for Real Madrid, who might be able to finally recuperate the money paid for him all those years ago.

Augusto Galván - (CyD Leonesa, Segunda División B)

Appearances: 4

Goals: 0

Assists: 0

Another surprise contender for the star player of the month award. Brazilian Augusto featured in the league again against Real Unión, but following the trend - really burst onto the scene in the cup. He started in the 2-1 win over Huesca from the league above, which was enough of a shock in itself. But it proved to be nothing in comparison to what was to come next. Leonesa picked out Atlético Madrid in the hat, and produced the biggest upset of the season so far, knocking out the former champions in extra time at 2-1. Augusto started this game and looked bright. He finally featured against Valencia when the dream came to an end on penalties after a gruelling 120 minutes. This surely should be a catalyst for change in Augusto’s league season, and he will hopefully open the door into the regular line-up...

Alberto - (Fuenlabrada, La Liga123)

Appearances: 1

Goals: 0

Assists: 0

It has happened. After a brutal recovery process, Alberto made his Fuenlabrada debut in the cup, starting and playing almost an hour against Recreativo de Huelva. Fuenlabrada lost on penalties, but Alberto returned to the bench against Albacete and Málaga in the league. For Alberto now, it’s about getting as many minutes and getting back to his best in the quickest time possible for the remainder of the season. It’s great to have him back...

Moha Ramos - (Birmingham City, The Championship)

Appearances: 0

Clean Sheets: 0

Even Moha almost got some action in January. He was on the first team bench in the FA Cup against Coventry - but remains to have any other first team involvement. I’m still seriously considering removing him from this list, especially now that Jesús Vallejo has moved onto Granada and could easily have a place on this list. If February can’t muster anything up for Moha then that may be it...

Luca Zidane - (Racing Santander, La Liga123)

Appearances: 5

Clean Sheets: 1

It has surprised me how many of these players have flourished under the new cup system on this list, and used it to their advantage. Whilst Castilla players and youth players in general lose out, these fringe players get a real chance at making a difference for the club, and for their own situations. It was also fantastic to see two disastrous loans cancelled out before the whole season was wasted. Lunin and De Frutos will play plenty of minutes for the remainder of the season now, but spare a minutes for for Javier Sánchez who remains stuck in the abyss. Alberto played his first minutes since getting injured for Castilla way back when, and Sergio Díaz continues to improve day by day. For others like Moha, this could be the end of the Real Madrid line. This decade will bring tremendous success for many of these players, and I for one can’t wait to see how it plays out. It was really refreshing to see the top two players of the month coming from the lower categories, with Augusto Galván flying in the cup, helping out Real Madrid in the process - and Dani Gómez looking like he is going to burst in the next few months. January was certainly eventful... And that was only the first month. What could February bring?

January’s Star Player: Dani Gómez!