Wenger fears new rules will mean no more Wilsheres
Regulations on young players will mean less homegrown talent coming through the ranks, says Arsenal’s French manager
Arsene Wenger has staunchly defended the status quo in the transfer market, warning that Arsenal's widely acclaimed youth policy will be finished if Fifa and Uefa plans to ban clubs signing players under the age of 18 are brought in. The Frenchman feels that in addition to rules already put in place by the Football Association and the Premier League, it will make the task of rearing homegrown players even tougher.
"It will make that policy virtually impossible," said Wenger. "If you cannot add any players under 18, and you have the home-grown rule, and on top of that English clubs are limited to bringing in young players who live less than 90 minutes from the training ground, how can we produce home-grown players? I don't know. So it's vital that this under-18 transfer rule is not implemented because English clubs would have a domestic limitation and a foreign limitation, making it harder to produce home-grown players."
Next season the Premier League will demand that all clubs field eight homegrown players in their 25-man squads - something Arsenal are currently well-placed to do, boasting 14 players from a sqaud of 29 who qualify as home-grown (having played three seasons, or 36 months, for a club while under the age of 21).
The FA's 90-minute rule is designed to make the luring of young foreign players harder, but will probably see clubs merely offering inducements to families to move within their catchment areas or else quibbling about what exactly makes up the journey time.
The Frenchman will arguably be one of the hardest hit managers in the Premier League, having crafted several generations of young players from the academy through into the first team since he took over the club in 1996. The latest hot talent off the Arsenal production line Jack Wilshire would at least have qualified for the club on the 90-minute rule, coming from Stevenage, but he would still be unable to sign for the club until his 18th birthday on January 1, 2010. Wenger argues that this could allow foreign clubs such as Real Madrid to monitor and swoop for sparkling talents without having nurtured them. ·
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