What does a loan move mean for Sørloth?

The news that Alexander Sørloth has joined K.A.A Gent on loan this week wouldn’t have surprised many Crystal Palace fans. It has been a difficult year for the big Norwegian striker as he has struggled for minutes, form and has not established himself in the first team. I will be looking at Sørloth’s prospects following his loan this week and what the move could bring for him and Crystal Palace for the future.

Sørloth arrived at Palace in the 2018 January transfer window on deadline day and was an unknown to much of Palace’s fanbase. However, there was some optimism about what the young striker could bring to the team as we required more attacking options. Sørloth made his debut against Everton in February 2018 and went on to start the following 3 games against Spurs, Manchester United and Chelsea. In these games he showed occasional promise with some direct running, good hold up play, a physical presence and a dubious disallowed strike away at Chelsea. However, these would be his only Premier League starts in a Palace shirt to date. He was not favoured for the rest of the 2017-18 season as he spent many of the remaining matches on the bench as an unused sub. This trend has continued in the 2018-19 season and he has only clocked up 173 minutes of total game time all season in the Premier League. Sørloth’s only competitive starts this season have come in the cup competitions as he contributed with a goal against Swansea in the Carabao Cup and provided an assist against West Brom in the same competition.

The fact that Sørloth has been unfavoured in the starting 11 so much over the last year shows that he is most likely out of favour with Roy Hodgson and may suggest that he is not yet good enough to play in the Premier League. Due to a lack of playing time and confidence, Sørloth’s form has suffered and his most recent start against Grimsby last weekend was laden with poor touches, indecisiveness and a couple of squandered chances. However, despite having very few chances to prove himself so far, Sørloth now has a great opportunity to turn his career around at Gent.

Hopefully Sørtloth can get a good run of games over the next six months. Moving away from England altogether to Belgium will probably work in his favour. If he had moved elsewhere in England and struggled further for form, he probably would have been viewed even more negatively and we would all be raising question marks over his potential to succeed at any level in the English game. However, he will now hopefully be starting more for Gent and with this he has a wonderful opportunity get a run of consecutive playing time, build some confidence at a competitive level and to start scoring some goals too.

The negativity towards Sørloth has been unwarranted at times. He has hardly been given a good run in the first team to prove himself and the simple fact is that any striker needs to be given a place in the starting line up to score goals. The lack of consecutive starts for Sørloth has undoubtably made it harder for him to settle in and I’m sure has knocked his confidence too. He is only 23 years old and still has plenty of playing time ahead of him. It would be fantastic for him to come back having scored plenty of goals in Belgium and then hit the ground running next season with Palace. Yet, if he fails to reclaim his form at Gent then the likelihood is that he won’t be given any further chances at Palace and a permanent move elsewhere could be possible in the summer transfer window.

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