By Tony Attwood
I drove north up the A1 last night to Newark for a little bop around the dance floor and listened (I guess rather stupidly because it always gets me wound up) to various journalists and “experts” (I use the word lightly) commenting on who was going to buy whom this January.
What made the discussion so silly was that the speakers continued their habit of ignoring regulations when it comes to the 25 players who can be registered, forgetting (for example) than Arsenal have to get rid of a player from the 25 if we wish to sign another.
When we did our analysis in the summer we found that although most clubs had not signed their full compliment of 25 players they could only sign one player who was classified as not “home grown” by the FA.
The regulations at the moment mean that of the 25 players over 21 who are registered you can only have 17 non-home grown players. Most clubs have got to that total – or something very close to it. It is the “home grown” sections that are not full.
None of this was mentioned by those engaged in the discussion. They kept on mentioning names right left and centre always without a thought as to whether they had room under the 25 player rule.
A lot of talk was of West Ham who have 16 non-home grown players in their squad, so they could bring in one more if they wished. There was happy chit chat of them signing far more than this, and mostly they were once again non-home grown. There was the view that WHU needed “two or three” top class players. But no mention of who was to be sold, and what they would do if they couldn’t move on the player.
Arsenal are very unusual in having nine home grown players in their squad, and they would be in a very strong position if the proposal of the FA outlined on 25 March 2015 were brought into effect. For this proposal requires that the number of home grown players in the squad is increased from eight to 12, two of whom would have to have come up through the youth system.
That would mean that 13 players could be non-home grown which would put all teams in trouble. Worse the definition of home grown would be changed.
Currently, home grown players have to have been with an English or Welsh team for at least three years before the age of twenty-one. The FA want to reduce the age to 18. This would mean a teenager would have to be with the club at a maximum age of fifteen.
Unfortunately players are not allowed to move across national boundaries until they are 16, meaning that if a foreign player joined an English youth academy at sixteen, in three years time he would be nineteen. Thus said player would fail to qualify as a homegrown player due to the fact he would be older than eighteen.
That would mean that Wojciech Szczęsny, Francis Coquelin and Damian Martinez would all be excluded from being home grown. (As indeed they might from a completely different perspective if the UK government ever gets around to taking the UK out of the EU).
The failure of the people who talk up possible transfer deals to acknowledge the restrictions of the rules that control transfers is one of the many reasons why such talk is so pointless. Along of course with the fact that we were tipped to sign 110 or more players last summer and lose 22 of the players in the 25-man squad who were all about to be poached by other clubs.
Here is Arsenal’s current over 21 squad, with the players in italics being the home grown group.
|1||Kieran Gibbs||LB||26 Sep 1989|
|2||Aaron Ramsey||Mid||26 Dec 1990|
|3||Theo Walcott||Forward||16 Mar 1989|
|4||Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain||Mid||15 Aug 1993|
|5||Danny Welbeck||Forward||26 Nov 1990|
|6||Carl Jenkinson||RB||8 Feb 1992|
|7||Emiliano Martinez||GK||2 Sep 1992|
|8||Francis Coquelin||DM||13 May 1991|
|9||Matt Macey||GK||9 Sep 1994|
|10||Mathieu Debuchy||RB||28 Jul 1985|
|11||Per Mertesacker||CB||29 Sep 1984|
|12||Gabriel||CB||26 Nov 1990|
|13||Laurent Koscielny||CB||10 Sep 1985|
|14||Alexis Sanchez||Forward||19 Dec 1988|
|15||Mesut Özil||Mid||15 Oct 1988|
|16||Olivier Giroud||Forward||30 Sep 1986|
|17||David Ospina||GK||31 Aug 1988|
|18||Nacho Monreal||LB||26 Feb 1986|
|19||Santi Cazorla||Mid||13 Dec 1984|
|20||Yaya Sanogo||Forward||27 Jan 1993|
|21||Granit Xhaka||CM||27 Sep 1992|
|22||Petr Cech||GK||20 May 1982|
|23||Mohamed Elneny||Mid||11 Jul 1992|
|24||Shkodran Mustafi||CB||17 Apr 1992|
|25||Lucas Pérez||Forward||10 Sep 1988|
Of course the under 21’s don’t count in this figure at the moment but they are certainly part of the squad.
|Rob Holding||CB||12 Sep 1995|
|Alex Iwobi||Forward/MF||3 May 1996|
|Hector Bellerin||RB||19 Mar 1995|
|Chuba Akpom||Forward||9 Oct 1995|
|Jeff Reine-Adelaide||Forward||17 Jan 1998|
One other point to remember is that we have five members of the First Team Squad out on season long loans, three of whom are home grown.
|Joel Campbell||Forward||Sporting Lisbon|
Also it is worth remembering that loans can now only happen within the transfer window (unless a goalkeeper in exceptional circumstances). So if a team is to be adjusted, January is the time to do it. Unless the team is Real Madrid who are banned by Fifa from signing players. Although that has not stopped the media giving us a great list of players who Real Madrid are contemplating taking in January! The Metro for example has been telling us that Real Mad are going to sign Thibaut Courtois next month.
But let us come back to our old chums State Aid United (formally West Ham). As noted above they have room for one non-home-grown player.
Interestingly the report specifically excludes Tottenham from the round robin’s list of recipients, reflecting just how bad relationships are between Tottenham, (who are still very coy about the level of borrowing going on for their own ground), and WHU for whom money is now an irrelevance.
While I personally thought that it might have helped Tottenham’s cause to loan Adebayor to West Ham two years ago (in that by that stage the player seemed to be able to cause havoc where ever he went) Daniel Levy wouldn’t even sanction that move, preferring to keep paying the old centre forward for doing nothing rather than letting him soak up some of the tax payers money that State Aid have been granted and quite possibly cause havoc while there.
In terms of Arsenal players wanted by State Aid United Mathieu Debuchy and Carl Jenkinson are on the list of wants. Elsewhere they are said to be asking about Rashford, Martial and Smalling as loan signings.
“The move has been a complete success on every level … Be in no doubt, we are part of the most successful stadium migration in history.”