This article is part of Football FanCast’s Loan Watch series, which takes a closer look at those players who are aiming to galvanise their careers away from the spotlight of their parent club.
Luke Garbutt’s loan deal to Ipswich Town may have raised a few eyebrows at parent club Everton, with the decision to let him go leaving the left-back slot low in numbers and the player to run down the final 12 months of his contract.
What this move has done, however, is give the 26-year-old much-needed game time for the Everton fans, Marco Silva and potential future suitors to see what he can potentially offer them going forward. In that sense, it’s probably the most important loan stint of his career to date – especially when coupled with the fact he’s now entering his prime years as a footballer.
Garbutt joined Everton in 2009 as a 16-year-old from Leeds United’s academy and has only played 12 times for the Toffees at senior level, although he has stepped out 71 times for the U23’s and registered nine goals and five assists for them.
Throughout the years, the Englishman’s game time has been limited mainly due to the form of Leighton Baines, who made that position his own for several seasons. More recently, Lucas Digne’s emergence has forced Garbutt out for his what is now his sixth loan spell away from the club since making his debut in 2012.
Ahead of the 2013-14 season, the left-back was awarded a new two-year deal with Everton, but he was still yet to make his Premier League debut by this point.
A season later, an injury to Baines handed Garbutt an extended run in the side which saw him help Everton reach the quarter-finals of the Europa League, starting both legs of the 7-2 victory over BSC Young Boys – a time where he registered his one and only assist for the first-team and earned a new five-year contract.
But this season, Garbutt was going to face another campaign where he waited for injuries to others in order to see game time, considering Digne is coming off the back of winning Everton’s Player of the Year award.
He has faced a similar issue in trying to establish himself at Ipswich, battling D’arro O’Connor and Alan Judge for a place down the left-hand side. However, he has performed exceptionally well when given the chance by scoring three times in the four games he has started – this is just one goal short of his tally of four for Oxford United last year in League One.
As the Blues have played in a back three so far, Garbutt has been placed as more of a wing-back, which has allowed him to get rack up his goal tally and register two shots per game so far.
The Evertonian has shown throughout his four performances that he could still offer something to the Toffees’ squad. There is the obvious fact League One is substantially different from the Premier League, but considering Garbutt has registered a 7.85 performance rating so far and played a hand in first-place Ipswich’s dominance in the league, perhaps the left-back has shown he may have a future at Goodison Park after all.
After all, Digne is the only recognised left-back around the squad other than Baines, who has not seen a minute of action this season and will turn 35 in December. A new contract would certainly be cheaper than buying another left-back during summer 2020.
But bearing in mind his current form and considering he is just 26 years old, clubs around the Football League will surely desire his signature on a free transfer, should a deal at Everton fail to materialise. So whether he convinces his parent club to offer new terms or attracts admiration from those a bit further down the pyramid, it’s crucial Garbutt can maintain this level of form for the rest of what is already looking like a decisive loan stint in League One.