Starting next season all EPL clubs will have to name 25 players over 21 before the season begins as their registered players list.
Eight of those players must have been developed for at least three years by an English or Welsh club before their 21st birthday.
The clubs can also have a limitless list of players under 21.
Both lists can be resubmitted at the end of the January transfer window. At the moment the issue of transfers concluded during the summer transfer window but after the start of the EPL season (ie mid-August to September 1) has not been resolved. As things stand they would not be able to play in the EPL – but clearly that rule will be changed.
So who can we count in our eight players developed for at least three years by an English or Welsh club before their 21st birthday?
I have not done detailed research on this, so I need some help on birthdates and checking dates of joining the club, but here’s a guess…
- Alex Song
- Johan Djourou
- Gael Clichy
- Kieran Gibbs
- Armand Traore
- Abou Diaby
- Cesc Fabregas
- Aaron Ramsey
- Jack Wilshire
- Emanuel Eboue
- Fran Merida
- Carlos Vela
- Theo Walcott
- Nic Bendtner
So we needed eight and we got 15 – which means even if some of my data is wrong, we are safely there.
That may seem easy – but if we take Liverpool I think they have a significant problem, if for no reason other than the fact that they have over 50 registered pros in the club.
What will in fact happen is that some clubs will now have to change their approach radically to have a squad of 25 including the eight “home grown” players. And they will be trying to do it in a rush.
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Of course the clubs can fill up the numbers will all sorts of kiddies, under the under 21 rule, but then they are focussing on a squad of maybe 20 – which as we know, given the way injuries are much more common now than in the past, is not enough.
Put another way, while Liverpool and Manchester IOU already have transfer problems, and while KGB Fulham might do as well (depending on their appeal against their transfer ban) Arsenal’s current policy has clearly been designed with this development in mind.
If you have any insights into how other clubs can cope with this development I’d be glad to read it. My gut feeling is that KGB Fulham are going to struggle – because their youth development policy has been such a disaster (which is why they keep getting caught in tapping up offences). I can’t see how Manchester Arab will adapt to this – but maybe I don’t know the pedigree of some of their players. Wright-Phillips and a few others will qualify as home grown – but only a few. The Tiny Totts under Arry are going to struggle to, since all he does is buy and sell brown envelopes (sorry players).
And this is the point: it stops Manchester Arabs, the KGB, Appy Arry and others just running riot and buying everything that moves.
The get-out clause for clubs (name as many under 21s as you like) won’t help much either, since few (if any clubs) have such an array of under 21s as we have.
Take a look at last night’s team in the reserves (who have played 3 won 3 this year).
Szczesnv, Gilbert, Bartley, Eastmond, Randall, Murphy, Watt, Barazite, Luke Freeman… these are all players who quite possibly could do a Gibbs and burst into the first team when needed and who would be on the under 21s list. Several will be knocking on the door next season – all under 21.
I have no idea how long the Lord Wenger has really been plotting this approach in relation to this rule but it is a real boost to Arsenal that we are just going to adopt it without the slightest change to our playing approach, while many of our rivals will have to adjust – just at the moment when adjustment is the last thing they want to do.
Postscript: As I mentioned last time, the new HIGHBURY HIGH is due out for the league cup game. Great article in it on the history of Arsenal and the year of anniversaries. (Well I think it’s great, but then I wrote it).
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