Tottenham Hotspur have loaned two of their most promising talents abroad to clubs in France and Italy, but have little to show for it.
You cannot blame clubs for trying to better themselves and the careers of their younger players; Tottenham were once such side who sent a number of their highly talented starlets on loan this season, with a batch in January.
Two of the more promising of these players were Ryan Mason, who made his debut for the first team earlier this season, and Souleymane Coulibaly, one of many young Ivorian starlets who hopes to emulate Didier Drogba.
Mason was loaned to French side Lorient, who have been in the top half of Ligue One - but so far he has not played a single first team minute since moving across the channel.
Will he really feel at the end of it that he would rather have been there rather than in the under-21 side in which he bagged eight goals in eight games earlier this season?
Football is of course about testing yourself, and moving out of the comfort zone, so perhaps he will feel happy that he gave it a go, but the way the switch has panned out will not please the attacking midfielder, nor likely his club.
Souleymane Coulibaly was loaned to Italian Serie B strugglers Grosetto, and has at least made it onto the pitch. But he has made just one start, and six substitute appearances, usually in the final few minutes of matches, and does not have a single goal to show for his efforts.
It's hardly the roaring success the club would like it to be, although it is at least a taste of competitive action for the teenager, however limited.
The pair are not the only ones. 18-year-old Tomislav Gomelt was loaned to Espanyol in Spain, but the Croatian has not made a single appearance for them either.
So what is the solution? Keep them in England is an obvious cry, but those loaned out to differing levels in English football are enjoying mixed success.
Alex Pritchard was the big hope at Peterborough, but injury curtailed that experiement so it can hardly be fairly judged. At least it appeared as though he was braced to get some game time however.
Simon Dawkins is a different matter entirely. The decision to loan him to Aston Villa was always ambitious, and it has failed to materialise into anything substantial in terms on-pitch action.
By contrast, Andros Townsend has done superbly at QPR, making Spurs regret loaning him out. It's hard to imagine that Ryan Mason over in France isn't a little bit envious of the opportunity his teammate has had and the impression he is creating.
Adam Smith has done well at Millwall, showing he has something to offer Spurs at right-back, while Jon Obika is doing steadily at Charlton, getting on the scoresheet recently. Harry Kane however has had a difficult time, earlier on loan at Norwich, and recently in an out of form Leicester side.
There may not be a wondrous solution, as some players are simply either not good enough or not ready to make it at the top level, and loans are the only way to test this, but with so many spells being unproductive, it is right to ask the question as to whether enough thought is going into matching the right player with the right club.
With so many bright young talents at Spurs at present, getting it right over the coming seasons is going to be more important than ever,
What do you think of the exploits of Tottenham's loanees?
image: © tonypeters