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By Tony Attwood
And to begin by explaining: not every one of the seven big teams’ 25 man squads has 25 players in it. Which is a little odd. Which is why I thought this might be worth an investigation. Lots of publications have given the full list, if you want to check – here’s the Daily Mail’s version, and the Athletic’s.
As we know Premier League 25-man squad can only have 17 foreign grown players, with the remaining eight places reserved for those defined as “homegrown”. In addition, each PL club can play as many players born on or after January 1, 2002 as they can find, and wish to throw into the action.
So I thought it might be interesting to know just how the top teams are using these rules, and I wanted to know even more so when I couldn’t find the data readily to hand. (That doesn’t mean it isn’t there, just that I couldn’t find a simple table).
Arsenal actually have 10 home growners, including all three goalkeepers (Aaron Ramsdale, David Raya and James Hilson) are home grown. (That’s not a reecord – Bournemouth have 16).
The other Arsenal homers are William Saliba, Ben White, Emile Smith Rowe, Declan Rice, Reiss Nelson, Eddie Nketiah, Bukayo Saka.
What this means is that if Arsenal want to buy someone new in the January window, perhaps because of a long-term injury to a player on this list then there is not going to be any homegrown problem – the player can be any nationality and background. The only issue is that the person being replaced with be replaced for the complete second half of the season.
The other interesting thing about Arsenal’s squad is that there are no under 21s outside the 25 who are regularly playing – which is interesting because for several years this is exactly what we have had. The most likely players who could suddenly pop up on the bench or even get a game are the midfielder Ethan Nwaneri, Lino Sousa (defender), Reuell Walters (also defender), and Amario Cozier-Duberry who plays on the wing.
So all 25 places are filled without recourse to under 21s, incorporating a surfeit of home growners so no problem with future transfers, and a set of up-and-coming youngsters who might get game time in the league cup or even more, if they continue to shine. That’s a pretty good squad.
Chelsea’s approach is quite different. They have seven home growners, the minimum number required to gain a full 25 man squad, but here’s the funny thing: the 25 man squad contains no less than five goalkeepers which suggests that despite this vast amount of spending on anyone who can move about a bit, they actually don’t have the total in-depth squad we might expect.
Liverpool is where it gets really strange because instead of seven home growners they only list six. And instead of a 25 man squad they only list 22 players. Now they do have Stefan Bajcetic, Ryan Gravenberch, and Harvey Elliot who are under 21, and Elliot is of course home homegrown, so the thinking is presumably they want the space in the team when he comes of age. But only 22 players over 21 is cutting it a little thin.
Manchester City howeer have gone even further and only selected a 20 man squad which includes seven homegrown players. An interesting approach, which means they can buy in anyone they fancy in the January window – and of course with their finances they really can buy anyone. And of course they have some promising under 21s available any time they need them. But even so, a 20 man squad means they are very certain who is playing. Or they really are worried about the ongoing enquiry.
Manchester United have a full 25 man squad, with eight who are home grown and a whole raft of under 21s waiting in the wings.
Newcastle United also have the full set of 25, and an amazing 14 (over half the set) are home grown, plus they have a range of promising kiddies. Now that is a focus on home grown – and it can’t be knocked, for they came fourth last season up from 11th the season before.
Tottenham have only listed 24 players, and five of those are goalkeepers which is sort of what you might expect from that club. They do have eight home grown players on the list but again three of those are goalkeepers, which suggests that they were struggling a bit to find the right transfers in the summer. Still they do have a place spare for January, and he could be any nationality – which is a help.
Overall, Manchester City are the odd balls with only a 20 man squad. They may of course have absolute faith in those 20, or it may be that they know that any more purchasing is really going to look bad in the face of the enquiry going on into their finances. It will be interesting to see how they cope with injuries and the league cup matches. A youth team for the league cup perhaps?
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