by Pétur Jónasson.
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SQUAD RULES AND THEIR EFFECTS
Transfer deadline day looms! In this festive period, as we stay glued to our computer screens, biting our nails while we wait for transfer news, we like to speculate about player departures and arrivals, but while most people are aware that there is such a thing as a 25-man limit to our squad few people seem to have much idea about the specifics of it. This article seeks to explain these rules and how they affect our transfer activity.
THE SHORT AND SIMPLE VERSION OF THE RULES
Every club participating in the Champion’s League must submit two lists of players to UEFA, List A and List B. List B is for young players and there is no limit to the number of players that can be submitted on that list. List A is for any player not eligible for List B. A maximum of 25 players can be submitted on List A, of which at least 8 must be “locally-trained”, and of those 8, 4 must be “club-trained”. The rules in full can be found here.
If the club doesn’t have enough players to fill the slots for locally-trained players it will have to leave those slots empty. If the club has more than eight such players, any surplus player will have to take up one of the 17 remaining slots, leaving fewer slots for players who are not home grown.
So, exactly how do we determine which players fall into which categories?
In order to be eligible for List B for next season, a player must be born 1991 or later and he must have already spent at least two full continuous seasons at the club. This means that if we buy a “wonderkid” we will have to register him on List A, even though he is young enough for List B. Loan spells at other clubs can also sometimes cause a player to not fulfill the second requirement, even though he arrived at Arsenal more than two years ago.
The composition of List A is as follows:
Slots 1-17: Any player can be put into these slots.
Slots 18-21: Only for locally-trained players (association-trained or club-trained)
Slots 22-25: Only for club-trained players
A club-trained player is a player who has spent a total of at least three full seasons with the club between the ages of 15 and 21. An association-trained player is a player who has spent a total of at least three full seasons with clubs affiliated with the same association as his current club between the ages of 15 and 21.
PREMIER LEAGUE SQUAD LISTS
The Premier League also has some rules about squad lists. The main differences are as follows:
1. Instead of a List A and List B, there is only one list, equivalent to List A in the CL, with the same limit of 25 players. Instead of a List B, young players do not have to be submitted at all. The cut-off age is the same, but unlike the CL, the PL does not require such players to have been with the club for 2 seasons.
2. Instead of slots for association-trained and club-trained players, the PL squad lists have 8 slots for “home-grown” players. The definition for home-grown players corresponds to what UEFA calls association-trained players.
Essentially, the PL rules are slightly more relaxed than the CL rules, meaning we can ignore the PL rules and focus on the CL rules.
THE OX: A PRIME EXAMPLE
Let’s take a little look at one of our most exciting prospects, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. He is born in 1993 and will turn 19 this summer. The two-year rule for List B mentioned earlier means that he will not be eligible for List B until after next season. In the meantime he has to be registered on List A as an association-trained (Southampton) player. In the 2013/14 season he will have spent two years at Arsenal and still be young enough to be eligible for List B. In the 2014/15 season and every season thereafter he will no longer be young enough for List B and will be registered on List A as a club-trained player (having spent three years with Arsenal).
THE EFFECT OF GROWING OLDER
While the 25-man squad limit does prevent clubs from assembling huge squads of established stars, meaning in theory more opportunities for young players, it does have a somewhat negative impact on the slightly older youngsters. When players reach a certain age they have to be included in the 25-man squad. This means that if a player has not proven himself worthy of a place in the squad by that time he is most likely going to be offloaded. From the club’s perspective, every summer a decision will have to be made on a few players who no longer are eligible for List B.
This summer for example, this applies to Wojciech Szczesny, Aaron Ramsey, Craig Eastmond, Gavin Hoyte and Rhys Murphy. Hoyte and Murphy have already been released, and I think we can safely assume room will be made in the squad for Szczesny and Ramsey, but what Eastmond? The player has shown some promise and featured for us occasionally, but he is in danger of being sacrificed (sold/loaned) to make room in the squad for a new signing.
Next season Francis Coquelin, Conor Henderson and Sanchez Watt will be in the same situation, and a large cull is likely in two years time, when decisions will have to be made on 10 players (Ryo Miyaichi, Joel Campbell, Samuel Galindo, Carl Jenkinson, Jack Wilshere, Emmanuel Frimpong, Daniel Boateng, Jernade Meade, Ignasi Miquel and Damian Martinez).
HOW IT ADDS UP THIS SUMMER
Let’s apply these rules to each of our current players:
Club-trained A-listers (8 players):
Wojciech Szczesny, Vito Mannone, Johan Djourou, Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott, Craig Eastmond, Nicklas Bendtner.
Association-trained A-listers (2 players):
Carl Jenkinson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Other A-listers (23):
Lukasz Fabianski, Bacary Sagna, Per Mertesacker, Thomas Vermaelen, Laurent Koscielny, Andre Santos, Sebastian Squillaci, Abou Diaby, Thomas Rosicky, Mikel Arteta, Andrei Arshavin, Ju-Young Park, Gervinho, Marouane Chamakh, Martin Angha, Kyle Ebecilio, Jon Toral, Serge Gnabry, Hector Bellerin, Kristoffer Olsson, plus our new signings Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla.
Everyone else, including Jack Wilshere, Emmanuel Frimpong and Francis Coquelin.
The first thing you might notice is that we have ten locally-trained players, most of which are club-trained. This means that we could get rid of two of them without having to reduce the total number of players on the squad list. This is quite good. Not so good, however, is the fact that we have a total of 33 A-listers, which is 8 more than we are allowed, so we are going to have to cut that list down somehow.
Let’s start with some youngsters who are not eligible for List B because they haven’t been at the club long enough. We’re hardly going to make room in the squad for Angha, Ebecilio, Toral, Gnabry, Bellerin and Olsson, so now we’re down to 27. This means that if we are going to sign a player before the transfer deadline, we’ll have to get rid of three players first.
So, which players could leave? Squillaci, Arshavin, Park, Chamakh and Bendtner all seem surplus to requirements at the moment. At the end of last season they were all deemed likely to leave the club this summer, but we haven’t been able to move them on yet. Squillaci, Park and Bendtner have taken little or no part in pre-season and the beginning of the current season and will probably leave.
Arshavin and Chamakh might leave as well, but both have already featured to some level, so it is conceivable that they might stay. We also have Craig Eastmond, who might possibly be sacrificed if we’re having problems moving the other ones on, and while the club have announced that Theo Walcott is not for sale, it wouldn’t really surprise anyone if the contract rebel was sold.
Whatever business we do, since we have currently 27 players competing for 25 spots in the squad, we need to move on two more players than we sign. For example, if we get rid of Squillaci, Park and Bendtner then we can buy one player. If we were then going to bring in more, we would have to axe one of Arshavin, Chamakh, Walcott or Eastmond.
So, while many fans are desperate for news of new signings, I tend to pay a lot of attention to news of departures as well, because they really are a precondition of signing new players.