Three things that we don’t know the truth about. Money, transfers and the home grown rule. I’m going to go a little way to explaining what the truth is behind all those three things – or at least give my version of what I think the truth is… I’ll start with the home grown rule and take a look at how it effects us, then I’ll look at the money side of things and then finally take a look at the likely transfers…
I’ve been scouring the official UEFA documentation regarding the home grown rule and in contraction to the newspapers and additionally what Arsene said recently about it being unfairly limited to 25 members in the squad, the rule itself doesn’t really harm us whatsoever… Let’s take a look at it:
“A home-grown player will be defined as one who, irrespective of his nationality or age, has been registered with any club affiliated to the Football Association or the Football Association of Wales for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons or 36 months prior to his 21st birthday (or the end of the Season during which he turns 21).
Clubs will be able to supplement their squads with unlimited additional players under the age of 21 on 1st January in the year in which the season commences.Changes to the squad list of 25 may be made during the period of a transfer window. ”
The squad size of 25 is basically the number of players over the age of 21 we can have in our main first team squad. A quick scan through the first team squad (okay, it wasn’t quick), allows me to group players into three categories. Just a quick reminder – from next season, 8 of the 25 players must be home grown (as per definition)… although the details below are aimed at the current crop of players rather than the ones next season (simply because I don’t know who will be here!)… but at next year’s ages
Category 1: Players over 21 and not home grown (max 17)
- Manuel Almunia
- Lukasz Fabianski
- Bacary Sagna
- Thomas Vermaelen
- William Gallas
- Mikael Silvestre
- Sol Campbell
- Abou Diaby
- Tomas Rosicky
- Samir Nasri
- Andrei Arshavin
- Emmanuel Eboue
- Van Persie
Category 2: Players over 21 but are defined as home grown (min 8 )
- Vito Mannone
- Philippe Senderos
- Alex Song
- John Djourou
- Gael Clichy
- Cesc Fabregas
- Carlos Vela
- Niklas Bendtner
Category 3: Players under 21 (unlimited)
- Wojciech Szczesny
- Kieran Gibbs
- Armand Traore
- Craig Eastmond
- Aaron Ramsey
- Jack Wilshere
- Fran Merida
- Theo Walcott
So, by my count, we only have 14 players who are over 21 whom are not home grown. That means, providing we don’t sell any of them, we can still buy three players aged over 21 and include them in our squad without having to leave anyone out. We’ve actually got 9 home grown players but have been trained by the club for a minimum of three seasons. But in reality, the home grown rule doesn’t depict age, so we actually have many more – players like Szczesny, Gibbs, Traore, Merida etc etc are technically categorised as home grown even though they are so young.
You’ll note that there are 9 players in the home grown category, so they contribute towards the overall quota – but I consider Senderos already gone – hence the note about the ability to buy three non home grown players. If one or two of Gallas or Silvestre or Campbell were to leave, you’re looking at the possibility of bringing in four or even five players if needs must. But one thing to be aware of is that players under 21 will grow up end up in the over 21 quota, so bringing in 5 over 21’s this summer would mean a full quota next.
In fact, we have the highest number of home grown players in the Premiership. You may see other teams able to name 8 home grown players – but many of them will have to add people in from their youth teams and promote normally unused players, whereas our squad is complimented by this age bracket and ruling. In addition, the players under 21 are all of extremely high quality comparably.
So, what does mean this summer? Well I think it’s clear that we can bring in 3 players of a decent experienced age group without any worry of the home grown rule. At the moment, we have 23 players over 21 (9 classified as home grown) and with Senderos, Silvestre and possibly Gallas and Almunia off this summer, we will have 19 players, with 6 places up for grabs.
The transfers which seem most probable are a new goalkeeper, a new centre back, a new striker – I would expect all three of these players to be over 21 and not home grown. Who – well who is a different story altogether and only one player – in Maroune Chamakh is on the radar for us fans. Of course, Arsene feels that he has already identified the players and hopes to sign them up before the world cup, so it’s currently a waiting game.
For those of you unaware of Arsene’s comments ready the money situation, here’s a brief reminder:
“Due to the construction of the Emirates Stadium, for many years we could not spend a lot,” said Wenger. “Our financial situation has greatly improved. We are finally able to buy the players we think we need.”
And having sold Adebayor and Toure for a combined fee of £41m last summer and sales in previous seasons too, Hleb, Gilberto, Hoyte, £20m, Thierry Henry, Ljungberg, Diarra, Reyes, Aliaidiere, £35m – you’re looking at roughly £100m through the door (including the Bentley sell on fee), with Nasri, Vermaelen, Eduardo and Arshavin denting about £40m, leaving a £60m surplus… add to that the increasing revenues and prize money, and of course, sales of the Highbury flats, we’re now the third richest club in the world and it goes without doubt that Arsene can spend this summer.
Well, my fellow Gooners, we know a little bit more about the money available, a little more about the transfers and a whole load more about the home grown rule. That, as they say when eating a tortilla…. is a wrap… time to digest… Adios for now…