Michael Farrow's sports blog

A collection of new and old writings

…on the Premier League squad limits

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Denilson of Arsenal

Denilson - Brought over from South America, growing and flourishing in the British Isles. Like potatoes.

When my fiancee is out in the evenings, I sometimes enjoy Mark Saggers on Talksport. I know, it’s Talksport, but if you ignore the awful callers, what you have is a smart, longtime broadcast journalist discussing sport sensibly with two decent sport journalists. Last night, talk turned to Luke Young’s potential move to Liverpool and the suggestion that the move has been made, in part, by Liverpool’s lack of senior homegrown players, contravening the Premier League’s new homegrown players limit. Liverpool’s lack of decent youth players means that any buys will have to be made with getting to eight homegrown players in mind. It looks like Luke Young doesn’t fancy it, he’s really looking for first team football and I heard he’s not keen on moving his family. However, this is one of the objectives the Premier League seem to be trying to achieve; stop certain clubs going and getting Mr Johnny Cheap Foreigner in place of an Englishman.

Each Premier League squad must submit a twenty-five man squad of players over the age of 21, where eight must be “homegrown”, i.e. trained for at least three seasons before the age of 21, though players under 21 as of January 2010 are exempt. The wording is carefully constructed to not discriminate against players based on nationality. However, Chelsea and Liverpool are both in trouble. With Benitez not being keen on English players and a succession of failed attempts to develop anybody of any nationality at Chelsea over the past seven years, both are lacking their eight homegrown players and they are use ’em or lose ’em slots. Chelsea could conceivably have a senior squad of just 21 or 22.  This could mean a reprieve for guys like Michael Mancienne and Jay Spearing, the sort of guys who are of an age and squad situation where they’d move to a smaller club but are now necessary for quotas. It also creates the wonderful situation where Thomas Hitzlsperger is homegrown, whilst Owen Hargreaves is not.

Meanwhile, Arsenal’s child trafficking policies, sorry Project Youth, will pay rich dividends as Cancun’s finest Carlos Vela doesn’t count against the limit and former favela-dweller Denilson is homegrown, though he’s currently uncapped by Brazil and a year away from qualifying for England so Capello may get his claws in and he’ll be as English as fish and chips. Arsenal have seven homegrown players; Vito Mannone, Johan Djourou, Gael Clichy, Cesc Fabregas, Denilson, Alex Song and Nicklas Bendtner. Some bright spark on an Arsenal blog pointed out a couple of weeks ago that Arsenal are actually in a tremendous position, given the large number of decent under-21 players. Of course, I’m trusting Wiki-fucking-pedia but it looks to me like the worst off could be Man City. They have 32 senior players out of a current first team squad of 38, 33 from 39 if you include the incoming Mario Balotelli.  They have 15 homegrown players but this is at a time where they are in the midst of a shopping spree.  They need to trim the squad by at least 8, either by sales or by loans, and many of the players who seem to be on the outs are their homegrown contingent.  Either that or the Elite Development squad will be the most expensively assembled reserve team in history.

A cursory look at the Chelsea squad suggests they need to buy young or buy British, making their decision to swap Joe Cole for Benayoun more than a little puzzling. Man United and Spurs are sniffing the limit already, which is why both are talking about leaving out the long-term injured Hargreaves and Woodgate respectively. Nevertheless, do these rules even go far enough  if Arsenal can still field a team full of foreigners? It’s almost like they consulted the Professor before they constructed these rules so as to not incur his wrath. Yet he still moans about it, even though he’s the only manager of a title contender who has any wiggle room.

He loves a good moan, especially when it's completely unwarranted.

I question if some teams will even be able to make it to 25 senior players.  I know Avram Grant is in the market but West Ham currently have just 22 players over the age of 21 and they are looking to move some of those on.  Provided you have enough young players in the first team squad I suppose it doesn’t matter but I can’t wait until somebody starts moaning about the unfairness of it all.  My bet is on Wigan with all their South Americans.

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Written by Michael Farrow

July 29, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Posted in Football

Tagged with ,

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