Signing Manor Solomon; how the post-Brexit rules on transfers are working

By Sir Hardly Anyone

It is being suggested that Arsenal are going to sign Manor Solomon from Shakhtar Donetsk this month.

That story comes from HITC who say, “According to The Guardian, the Israel winger is on the Gunners’ shortlist of targets – something that his agent hardly denied by revealing ‘anything can happen’ a little earlier this week.”

You will see a link to the words “The Guardian” – and that is the original link HITC included.  Most people won’t click on it, but will in fact just take it that the HITC report is validated because it comes from a reputable source.

Unfortunately what the report says is that “The Guardian understands Arsenal have held initial talks with the player’s camp, having scouted him heavily, and may firm up their interest during pre-season.”

You’ll notice the “may firm up their interest during pre-season.”  So nothing now.  And only a “may” for six months time.

Then HITC says “It does look like Solomon is a genuine target for Arsenal and if that’s the case, it isn’t good news for Reiss Nelson.”   You might also remember our piece just a few days ago that says, “Arsenal to sell Willock or Nelson to buy Buendia”  And this is why so many young English players desert Arsenal, for fear that they will soon be sold to make way for a foreigner.

HITC take the situation to mean that Arsenal are looking to move Reiss Nelson on, but another possibility could be that this is indeed a back-up in case, Reiss Nelson loses his flair and ability, gets a serious injury, announces that he is never going to sign a new contract, or anything else.

In short, it is what clubs do all the time – they make contingency plans so that if disaster strikes, they are not starting from scratch.

Although “contingency planning” is not the only explanation for the 97% of transfer rumours that are heavily reported in the media but never happen, it is one of of the main ones, when one excludes the tales which are simply the invention of a journalist we have never heard of, working in a publication or blog or radio station that we have never heard of and may not exist.

But let’s consider the other point, which neither the Guardian nor HITC care to contemplate.  Reiss Nelson is English (he was born at the Elephant and Castle and you don’t get more English than that, know what I mean know what I mean?)

As we know Arsenal’s foreign-grown squad is overloaded, and we are indeed looking to ditch players but our home-grown squad has only four players in it now:

  • 1. Hector Bellerin
  • 2. Ainsley Maitland-Niles
  • 3. Rob Holding
  • 4. Calum Chambers

So we have lots of room there for Reiss next year when he becomes a big boy, but we have negative capacity in the foreign-grown list.  Matt Macey, the keeper, has toddled off to Hibs, which is what took our home grown list down to four. So we are still not doing that much to deal with the overload of foreign-grown players.

To be clear, to be homegrown a player must be on an English or Welsh team’s books for at least three years before the age of twenty-one.  There is  move to reduce the age requirement to 18 meaning players have to be registered aged 15.

The Football Association has therefore drawn up an “Exceptions Panel” to allow some foreign players in, but it should be remembered that the FA was the prime mover in the notion that foreign born players should not be allowed in because doing so harms England’s chances of winning anything.

Research by Untold, since quoted in a few newspapers, shows that it is in fact the number of top-level coaches that relates to the success of countries in international tournaments, and that encouraging players to play overseas actually increases the chances of success.  In the last world cup England was the only country that had all its players playing in the country they represented.

As a way of seeing how well England has done through this policy of having very few qualified coaches of English nationality, and all players playing in England, it is worth looking at the section headlines in Wikipedia’s article “History of the England National Football Team”

  • West German and Polish defeats 1972–1974
  • Revie years, 1974–1976
  • Robson revival, 1982–1990
  • Graham Taylor: “Best we forget”
  • Venables: Euro 1996: Football comes home
  • Hoddle: 1996–1999: Unfulfilled promise
  • Keegan: 1999–2000: “A little bit short.”
  • Eriksson, 2001–2006: Three quarter-finals
  • McClaren, 2006–2007: Qualifying heartache
  • Capello: Another World Cup failure
  • Hodgson, 2012–2016: More tournament humiliation
  • Allardyce, 2016: Gone in 67 days
  • Southgate, 2016: Revival and new young talent

One might have thought that by now someone might realise that the underlying approach of very few fully qualified coaches and having everyone playing in England, doesn’t work.  But this is the FA, so probably not.