Albion Analytics: The Loan Report

Albion Analytics takes a look at how the players out on loan got on during the 2020/21 season.

By Liam Tharme • 04 July 2021

By SPMF Photography
Ryan Longman scored nine goals for AFC Wimbledon.

Brighton’s tried and tested loans pathway to first team has started to bear fruit, with the likes of Ben White and Robert Sanchez now established first-team players. The next generation of Albion players to tread this loan path had some impressive individual campaigns in the 2020/21 season.

Taylor Richards – whom Albion signed from Manchester City in 2019 – had a standout campaign at Doncaster, ranking fourth among all Under-21 players in League One for total goal involvements (15), split into 10 goals and five assists, evidence of his ability to create for others as well as convert chances. Eight of his ten strikes were with his stronger left foot, and Richards boasts a particular penchant for a goal from distance, netting four times from outside the box, the second most in the league behind top scorer Johnson Clarke-Harris (5).

The 20-year-old impressively topped the Doncaster charts in multiple attacking metrics, and his 45 dribbles completed (a 58% completion rate from 78 attempts) was the joint fifth best among under-21 players in League One last season. He produces an end product from dribbles too, topping the league charts for goal-ending dribbles (7).

Richards was also a top ten player for key passes (36), topping the charts for fouls won (87), drawing one every 30 minutes on average. The midfielder also boasted a league high 61 fouls committed, and sat third for tackles completed/attempted (60/84), evidence of his desires and intensity to press and try to regain the ball.

Versatile forward Ryan Longman played a primary role in AFC Wimbledon’s survival in League One, accumulating the third most minutes played (3,225) and second most goals plus assists (10) of any player in the squad. Like Richards, Longman is an exceptional ball carrier and WhoScored data has him top of the Wimbledon charts for dribbles attempted (74) and completed (39), whilst Opta have the youngster fourth in League One last season for dribbles leading to shots or chances created (60) last season.

No AFC Wimbledon player created more chances than Longman (45) last campaign, whilst only their talisman Joe Piggott (159 shots, 20 goals) could better Longman for shots taken (90) and goals scored (8). Utilising the same criteria as for Richards – ranking the output against all other under-21 players in League One last season – Longman created the second most chances, took the third most shots and ranked inside the top ten for dribbles attempted.

Norweigan national team member Leo Ostigard impressed out on loan for the second season running, having switched from German second tier club St. Pauli to a Coventry City side promoted back to the Championship for the first time since 2012.

He was one of only five players in the side to clock over 3,000 minutes, playing the equivalent of over 34 full matches. Ostigard won an outstanding 194 of the 292 aerial duels he engaged in, as per WhoScored data. That total was a Coventry high, and second only to Stoke’s Harry Souttar (204/276 aerials won) among under-23 central defenders in the Championship last season. His ability to dominate aerially can be found in both boxes, with three of his four goal involvements coming with his head including the crucial match-winner at Rotherham, as well as setting up two more goals when winning the first contact at set pieces.


In his own box, Ostigard ranked third of all Sky Blues for clearances (160) and opposition shots blocked (19). His aggression is not to be underestimated – only three Championship players received more yellow cards last season than Ostigard (11).

Matt Clarke spent a second consecutive season on loan at Derby County, who managed to avoid the drop following the introduction of former Albion man Liam Rosenior to their management staff. Across the last two campaigns, Clarke has clocked over 6,700 on-field minutes (which equates to over 74 full matches) and this season was Derby’s most used player – 3,687 minutes played.

The left-footed central defender also topped the Rams charts for clearances (179), interceptions (58) and opposition shots blocked (19), whilst his Derby-high 236 aerial duels won (72.2% win rate) put him among the top 10 players in the league.

Compared to Ostigard, Clarke is less aggressive. The Englishman actually won more fouls (33) than he conceded last season (29), picking up just three yellow cards and completing 82% of his attempted tackles. His ability on-the-ball is not to be sniffed at either, with Clarke averaging the most passes per game (52.3) of any Derby player.

Haydon Roberts spent the season on loan at Rochdale, whose games averaged over three goals, the second highest total in League One. The teenager played minutes equating to almost 24 full matches, ranking third among all Rochdale players (1,000+ minutes played) for passes per game (44.7) and pass accuracy (82%), impressively completing 22/25 dribbles attempted and winning 23/29 tackles

Jan Paul van Hecke is the only of the contingent to have spent his loan spell outside of England. The 21-year-old clocked over 2,300 minutes as part of a Heerenveen side that finished 12th. The Dutchman topped the club’s charts for opposition shot blocked (30), sat second for clearances (101) and was third for interceptions (57), aerial duels engaged in (148) and won (91).