Anatomy of a Loan Move

NOT only did Argyle miss out on signing Andy Kellett on January transfer deadline day...

…they were also gazumped by the world’s biggest football club.

The talented youngster was all set to re-join the Pilgrims on loan from Bolton Wanderers before he was offered another deal late in the transfer window – arguably a slightly more attractive one – to join Manchester United on loan until the end of the season.

Bolton-born Andy joined the Pilgrims on loan in October, debuting in a 2-1 loss against Morecambe and going on to make 15 appearances for the club. His elusive dribbling and direct style of play quickly made him a fans’ favourite amongst the Green Army. 

The Barclays Premier League giants’ late swoop for Kellett was as much of a surprise to the man himself as it was to fans of Argyle, United and all deadline day onlookers. Andy had spent the afternoon of February 2 finalising a deal with the Pilgrims before another loan move put paid those negotiations.

Neil Lennon’s Wanderers were keen to bring United prospect Saidy Janko in on loan to the Macron Stadium, but there was a stumbling block: Janko’s temporary departure from Old Trafford would have left a hole in the club’s title-chasing Under-21 setup, coached by Warren Joyce, who would also be without the likes of Ben Amos and Jesse Lingard for the rest of the campaign.

Joyce, who was signed by Argyle in 1992 from Preston North End for £160,000 and captained the Greens for the season, proposed a short-term swap deal where United would bring in one of Bolton’s youngsters in exchange for Janko. After taking a look at their youth set-up, Joyce chose a familiar face that had caused quite the stir at his old stomping ground earlier in the season. 

The 21-year-old scored his first professional goal during his time with the Greens – an outstanding individual effort against Northampton Town on December 13 last year. That memorable moment at Sixfields may well have been the key factor in Joyce wanting to take a closer look at the youngster.

Kellett also flourished in the left wing-back position, as part of Argyle’s 3-5-2 setup that brought plenty of success earlier in the season – the same formation that Louis Van Gaal has preferred to use since taking over at Old Trafford in the summer of last year.

By this point, Kellett had dotted the Is for his return to the South West, but had not quite crossed the Ts. As the Bolton News reported, Andy was sat down by Bolton’s first-team coach Garry Parker and offered some bad news and some good news. Once he was informed his move to Argyle was off, the Bolton-born wing back was promptly told to pack his bags and get to Manchester. 

It was quite the evening, then, for Argyle fans, who were stunned to see Kellett’s name pop up on their televisions or social media feeds, and not because he was heading back to their club. It was an even more surprising turn of events for Andy, who had his desired move to the Theatre of Greens replaced by a dream switch to the Theatre of Dreams. 

Best of luck, Andy.