Project Youth Means Arsenal Will Have Premiership’s Biggest Squad

Written by mjc

There is much confusion about the 25-man squad limit which is being introduced for this season and we’re lucky enough to have  a blogger who was happy to write a detailed explanation of how the new ruling will impact on Arsenal’s squad. It looks like we’re going to be in a very strong position although obviously there are still changes to be made with players coming and going.Thankyou ‘mjc’ for taking the time to put this together for us.

The adoption for the 2010/11 season of the new 25-man squad limit will impact on every team in the Premiership.  But Arsenal look like they have an edge.

The new rule requires that:

–   no more that 25 players over the age of 21 (or more accurately born before 1st January 1989) are allowed

–   a minimum of eight of these must be home-grown, that is to say, must have received three or more seasons of development in England or Wales prior to the season of their 21st birthday

–   any number of players born after 1st January 1989 can be added to this 25-man squad.

So how do Arsenal fare with the above rule? Categorising the first team squad gives us:

Home-grown (Minimum of eight):

  1. Vito Mannone
  2. Johan Djourou
  3. Gael Clichy
  4. (Sol Campbell)
  5. Cesc Fabregas
  6. Denilson
  7. Alex Song
  8. Nicklas Bendtner

So we exactly meet the minimum requirement of eight home-grown players, without having to include any of the under -21 players in the list. Losing Sol Campbell will of course impact on this equation.

Non home-grown (Maximum of 17):

  1. Lukasz Fabianski
  2. Manuel Almunia
  3. Bacary Sagna
  4. Thomas Vermaelen
  5. Laurent Koscielny
  6. (William Gallas)
  7. (Mikael Silvestre)
  8. Abou Diaby
  9. Tomas Rosicky
  10. Samir Nasri
  11. Andrey Arshavin
  12. Emmanuel Eboue
  13. Eduardo
  14. Robin van Persie
  15. Marouane Chamakh

We currently have 15 players registered in this category, although this can be expected to fall to 13 with the departures of both Gallas and Silvestre. In theory a further four players could be added, although both Vela and Szczesny will move into this category for the 2011/12 season.

Under 21 (No Restrictions)

  1. Wojciech Szczesny
  2. Kieran Gibbs
  3. Armand Traore
  4. Aaron Ramsey
  5. Jack Wilshere
  6. Carlos Vela
  7. Theo Walcott

Having seven first teamers (including one-third of our strikers) as “freebies” is certainly not to be sniffed at, and immediately extends the squad size to thirty-two players.

Furthermore, the above players are those with squad numbers from the 2009/10 season, and we can expect to see a number of the reserves (all of whom fall into the under-21 category) make the step up this summer. Many of these already have League Cup and/or Champions League experience:

Havard Nordtveit
Kyle Bartley
Gavin Hoyte
Nacer Barazite
Francis Coquelin
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas
Henri Lansbury
Mark Randall
Sanchez Watt
Gilles Sunu

This means that Arsenal’s squad for 2010/11, as registered with the Premier League, may well exceed forty players – larger than any other Premiership squad.

Certainly, Arsenal’s squad as registered for last season’s Champions League was the largest in that competition by quite some way.

And so, one might ask, what advantage, if any, does the above give to Arsenal? Is there really any benefit in having Novdveit available to face Drogba or Rooney?

Possibly not, but when injuries start mounting up this season, and the 25-man limit starts to bite, you’re going to see teams with more players out of position, and a great deal more blooding of untried youngsters than has previously been the case, and that will come as a shock to all the clubs involved.

Except Arsenal.

99 Responses to Project Youth Means Arsenal Will Have Premiership’s Biggest Squad

  1. charybdis1966 says:

    Morning all and thanks mjc for addressing how the new ruling affects us in particular.

    We do seem well placed to deal with the restrictions in force this season, although of course it has come at a cost in the last 3 or 4 seasons where lots of youngsters were put into teams with an imbalance of youth and experience.

    Still, the pain we’ve endured lately should pay off when other teams will struggle – for example how are Shitty going to manage?

    They have so many over 21’s who don’t qualify and their still keen on adding tothat category of player.

    More money than sense the Middle Eastlands mob.

  2. 26may19189 says:

    From one geek to another, excellent write up MJC. Expecting a lot I know, but I don’t suppose you’ve run this for the current squads of our principal rivals?? It’d be good to see how it all compares. I would be especially interested to see how City’s now-now-now, money-money-money approach might affect them.

  3. 26may1989 says:

    Apols for typo in my own name there. Am just recovering from a particularly brutal 5 a side game last night….

  4. GunnerPete says:

    Great but again I would call for Arsene to be positive and buy some great young Brits ie; Dorrans, Jones, Wickham, Hart. This would cost but would set us up for a fantastic future.

  5. perrygrovesworld says:

    so there was method in the so called madness of Project Youth….

  6. dan says:

    i just hope this is correct

  7. mjc says:

    chrybdis – Man City’s squad additions certainly look bizarre, and seem to be ignoring the 25-man squad limit. I’m guessing that there will be a fire-sale of the lesser lights of their over-21’s once City have bought every defensive midfielder in Europe….

    I’d happily do a similar analysis of City’s squad, except I think it would leave me feeling dirty…!

  8. tommystout says:

    well put together MJC, good morning charey.
    its certainly a squad game these days isn’t it? and it looks like we are in a fine position to cope.
    I think its a fantastic point that MJC makes at the end with regard to injuries etc, our younger players should be able to just drop straight in to the system.
    Judging by some peoples views on the barnet game (which i did not see), it looks like some of our boys are banging on the door.

  9. mjc says:

    tommystout – certainly Frimpong should be added to the final list of the article (and possibly Cruise – he seems to be doing rather well for England U-19’s).

  10. Rasp says:

    Morning all,

    Excellent article and research mjc.

    You do get the feeling we are about to reap the rewards for the years of austerity. I reckon AW must be seriously looking for another quality defender, but I really can’t see him paying £16m for Jagielka.

  11. GoonerInBarça says:

    Small point that Roger Chesney (can anyone actually spell his name without Google?) would count as “home grown” as he’s been here since he was 16. Not sure about Vela as he was registered with us though obviously played in Spain, so we might be able to include him on a technicality. All the others in the “under 21” list would count as homegrown as well as all the youths listed below. More scaremongering from the tabloids who don’t understand the rules. Wenger was simply making the point that it’s not his job to develop the England team (despite having numerous top English prospects under 21).

  12. London says:

    Morning all

    I was struggling to understand that mjc, so thanks for throwing some light on it.

    How much did we sell Toure for?

  13. Rasp says:

    Morning G I B,

    Welcome, thanks for the clarification. I think Arsenal have done plenty for English football in the ‘Wenger era’ – we’ve added professionalism, class, entertainment and financial sanity!

  14. charybdis1966 says:

    Hi TommyS, yeah while I accept it was only against a 4th tier team on saturday some of the youngsters did look good as yesterdays post highlighted.
    If you wnat a more detailed view of the barnet game I put a link oup on yesterdays post for my report(sorry for the shamelss plug guys)
    MJC – I can understamd how analysing the Shitty squad will leave you feeling sordid and defiled !

  15. London says:


    I am going to try and introduce a game for today. If you could pick two players to come in, and only two, which two would they be? Mine are:

    Reina and Jagielka.

  16. Rasp says:

    Morning chary,

    Put the link up to your article again today by all means.

  17. charybdis1966 says:

    Cheers Rasp – another thing the Barnet match showed was my camera is pants!
    I need one with an optical zoom as digital zooms are a load of crud.
    The link is here :

    and look out for the plug for this site.

  18. Rasp says:

    Hi London,

    Reina and Mertesacker would be my choice if we’re supposed to stay in ‘reality mode’.

  19. aj says:

    Definitely agree that Frimpong should be in there. Also, I didn’t see Craig Eastmond, who would be above several of the players on your list.

    I know Frimpong is lacking a bit in experience at the moment but I would quite like to see a 4-2-3-1 formation against the tougher teams, with Frimpong and Song as the two in front of defence.

  20. Morning London – can I be on your side please, I’d love both of those although if we’re going for Fantasy Transfers I’d like Gomez – he’s completely nuts, ‘arry has done a great job of making a man out of him and it would p*ss the spuds off big-time 😀

    Also his arms are nearly as long as his legs – not going to happen though 😆

  21. aj says:

    Tom Cruise too, in a year or two.

  22. Rasp says:

    Morning aj,

    I thought Frimpong was excellent on saturday after a slightly nervy start.

    Nordveit on the other hand was calm and assured from the off – I think his 2 years away on loan have paid dividends.

  23. GoonerInBarça says:

    Another thing: I think 4 of the 8 have to be trained at the club as well (for 3 years between the ages of 16-21). So almost all of the above players count in that list (including Theo and Ramsey who were bought). Whether they went straight into the first team is irrelevant.

    Another point is that you don’t “have” to have 8 home grown players. It just means you have 1 less player. e.g. A team only has 6 “home grown players” out of 8 meaning their squad can only be 23 players.

    What could be interesting is teams having 2 squads as the rules don’t apply to cup or european games. I could easily envisage Citeh doing this. Whether players would be happy to accept this is another thing especially if they get knocked out of competitions early doors.

  24. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Evening all

    Are Australians allowed on here still?

    Some research mjc, do you have a costing for player salaries 🙂 I could imagine the wage bill would be huge.

    For those who didn’t believe that Cesc wants to go, surely actions speak louder than words here. As for me, I’m still trying to find where he says, officially, that he is staying. Although i reckon he will.

  25. charybdis1966 says:

    Of course they are Gnarley, especially after your performance in the first test ! You know I would have enjoyed that.

  26. mjc says:

    G.I.B. – You are absolutely correct regarding Szczesny – my apologies. I also agre that we could see some ManCity players who are eligible for league games – which would be both peverse and bizarre….

    AJ – Eastmond is definitely another one that should be on that third list – thanks.

  27. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Thats good chary, cheers. Yep 3 Tasmanians Ponts, Hilfy & Paine.

  28. tommystout says:

    mertesaker and schwartzer for me.

    reina can eff off with his microphone in his ass!

  29. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    tommy, what is the latest on Schwarzer coming or not

  30. tommystout says:

    i think it would have been done by now if he was coming GG9 😦

  31. charybdis1966 says:

    Gnarley, it’s a pity Hilfy may be out for the second test, he seemed to be in a good run of form to me.

  32. paolinho says:

    Btw denilson doesn’t qualify as ‘homegrown’ as he was already 18 and a half when he signed for us (august 2006). Thus he does’nt meet the criteria of having trained in england for 3 or more years before his 21st birthday. It was approx to 2 and a half years.. just wanted to clear that up! Otherwise spot on, great post!

  33. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    Oh well, maybe Le prof is playing possum 🙂

  34. gnarleygeorge9 says:


    Hilfys in the House 😆

  35. mjc says:

    Paolinho – my understanding of the home-grown rule is that the player must have completed three full seasons, which can include the season that concludes in the year in which the payer reaches 21, even if the players birthday falls on 1st January(or in Denilson’s case 16th February). For administrative purposes the season starts on September 1st (on the closure of the transfer window). Therefore, as Denilson was signed on 31/08/06 at age 18, he had the 2006/7 season at age 18, 2007/8 at age 19 and 2008/9 at age 20, even though he was indeed over 21 by the conclusion of that third season.
    Clear as mud….

  36. paolinho says:

    In addition to denilson, with a similiar scenario alex song does’nt quite make the ‘homegrown’ cut either, having signed at a similiar age.

  37. mjc says:

    … also, Denilson will qualify to play alongside Wilshere for England in two years time 😉

  38. Electrolex says:

    Good article, is it possible to do a breakdown on our rivals too?

  39. mjc says:

    Song qualifies as home-grown in the same way that Denilson does….

  40. mjc says:

    Electrolex – would be fun to look at the other teams, but, by my reckoning, all the work would be done just in time to see the clubs publish the ACTUAL squads in about three weeks time.
    Perhaps though, someone at the blog could contact blogs at other clubs and suggest they undertake the same excercise on their owns teams…?

  41. mjc says:

    Paolinho – I think the key term in the definition of home-grown is the use of “season” as oppose to “year” in the qulaification criteria.
    I think phrasing it this way simplifies the administration, but also ensures that no players are penalised for being born one day the wrong side of the transfer window, for example.

  42. paolinho says:

    Ok thanks mjc, i did’nt take those ‘admin purposes’ in to account! that does clear up song and denilson’s situations. Also Carlos vela seemed a slight grey area to me, with the loan spells in spain. Though he was registered with all that time, training with the club in pre-seasons etc. So he definitely qualifies aswell right?

  43. paolinho says:

    *registered with arsenal all that time

  44. GoonerInBarça says:

    A good if slightly comical way to check whether they count would be by playing footy manager. As far as I know both denilson and song count as home grown according to the game (can’t remember about vela)!

  45. mjc says:

    As I understand it, the rule states that the player must have trained in the host country (England and Wales) for 3 full seasons. Therefore Vela will not qulaify as home-grown because of the loans. I also think that this is why we have not seen many youth players being loaned to overseas clubs recently (unless this is a necessity for visa/work permit/passport purposes). However, Vela will qualify this season as an under-21.

  46. mjc says:

    G.I.B. – might be worth checking out that theory to see if my logic is correct.

  47. mjc says:

    The impact of overseas loans on homegrown status may also give a clue as to why Arsenal did not fight very hard to retain the services of Fran Merida….

  48. paolinho says:

    Yeah the clubs loan policy on that basis makes sense, the only exception I can think of is Nordveit (not home-grown). I agree with your take on vela, thanks for the feedback!

  49. paolinho says:

    Had merida stayed at arsenal, he would before the age of
    21 qualified as home-grown, thus unaffected!

  50. mjc says:

    Paolinho – yes you are correct. Shame he left then, really….

  51. paolinho says:

    Was a shame Merida made that decision, though all things considered, understandable. I think it’ll turn out to be less of arsenal’s loss and more a case of At Madrid’s gain…

  52. I’ve done a bit of whoreing around the blog world to see if any other clubs have done any work on the 25 man rule and how it affects them.

    Really weird writing on spud, manc and chav sites 😦

    Does anyone know how to leave a comment on teamtalk as I couldn’t work it out 😳

  53. mjc says:

    Peachesgooner – thought it was interesting timing of this article, seeing as The Daily Biggot chose this morning to out Wenger as a confirmed Frenchman who has built a squad full of Carlos Kickaballs and doesn’t give a hoot about Team Ingurland….

  54. jeremy goldsmith says:

    Arsenal have the edge in numbers.As to the quality of the players it remains to be seen. Personally I have my doubts. Arsenal have a big pool of young gunners in previous years.
    The thing is Arsene has to play them at times or they would just drift away. I know introducing them into the senior team requires conviction and managerial knowhow.
    That’s what separates the top managers from the crowd.

  55. Why should Arsene Wenger have to give a hoot about Team Ingerland? – I don’t believe he doesn’t, I think that early on in his time at Arsenal he was only focused on building success for the club but now, if he can add a good crop of players to the national team then he’ll be even more successful.

  56. SharkeySure says:

    The future is ours !!!

  57. charybdis1966 says:

    So there you have it, Joe Cole has signed for the dippers.
    I hope he’s got good private security at his new place – the thieving dippers will clean it out come the first away game of the season.

  58. tommystout says:

    i thought he might have opted for spurs over liverpool… i always felt like arsenal had too many players like him so i’m not surprised or bothered that we have not gone for him.
    now come on arsene give us a keeper and another centrehalf!!! pleeeez

  59. charybdis1966 says:

    Me too TommyS – he said he wanted to stay in London AND have Champions League football – with the dippers he get’s neither. At least with the spuds he had a chance at one and definitely the other(staying in London.)
    He’s just another Gareth Barry.

  60. Irishgunner says:

    Phew – Joe Cole isn’t coming, one less in the queue for the physio room.

  61. charybdis1966 says:

    No one to keep your man company then Maire 😉

  62. Irishgunner says:

    I’ll keep him company 😉

  63. tommystout says:

    i didnt realise that johan djorou was so tall… if he got a good run and a little more polished as a player, maybe he might be the bigger man required to partner TV

  64. Rasp says:

    Hi tommy,

    Not from what I saw on saturday, but as you say, who knows how much he could improve with a run of games. The question is, can we still afford to risk a lengthy ‘learing period’ in the hope that a player will eventually make the grade with man city and totnum breathing down our necks?

  65. charybdis1966 says:

    So it’s official we have the old names back at Ashburton Grove – welcome back Clock end, North Bank, East stand and West Stand.
    About time too – how can you warm to “Orange Quadrant” or “Blue Quadrant”?

  66. tommystout says:

    and boy they must be close cos i sure can smell their stinky breath!

  67. charybdis1966 says:

    Thoguht you might say that Maire 🙂

  68. London says:

    Well that is good news….although, unfortunately I now find myself in the West Stand… grandfather would turn in his grave.

  69. dandan says:

    Afternoon all. Hi Irish No Joe and No Melo. looks like a good season to me.

  70. tommystout says:

    what other plans have they got for the arsenalisation charey?

  71. It seems I’ve become a clockender 🙂

  72. London says:

    I am not sure who got the best deal: the dippers with Cole or the chavs with Benayon?

    I bet arry isn’t happy, my guess is that he was hoping to pick up Cole on the cheap which he probably would have done because there is no way Lardy Benitez would have bought him. As for wanting to stay in London, the deal was all about wages.

  73. Irishgunner says:

    Dandan – me too.

    Guys if you want to stop discussing the ground (not an order ha ha) I’ll do a post and we can discuss it tomorrow or another free day?

  74. London says:

    Block 131 = Clockend

    Block 132 = West Stand

    Guess which block I am in?

  75. London says:

    Now if they just re-named the place “New Highbury” we could do away with the word “New” in a season or two and we would all know where were again. Simples.

  76. London says:

    OOps sorry Irish

    If you want to delete my comment feel free.

  77. Yes please Irish – can you do it – How will we gag London 🙄

  78. I’ll take off the link too – just like magic 😆

  79. Irishgunner says:

    Not at all London, its just I was actually thinking of doing one on the Emirates and since we are often stuck for a topic it might be a good post to do?

  80. Irishgunner says:

    I’ll do it later Peaches so it’ll be there tomorrow (or any day) if needed.

    I’m just writing an article on Team USA for BR, so will do it after that.

  81. Surferosa says:

    Got this from a City site (in regard to how many players they are over the limit at present- 4 by my maths)…

    a) not homegrown & over 21 (max. 17)

    Santa Cruz

    David Silva
    Kolo Touré
    Yaya Touré
    de Jong

    b) home grown & over 21 (min. 8)

    Michael Johnson
    Adam Johnson

    c) under 21 (unlimited)


  82. Rasp says:

    Thanks for that Surferoza, out of interest, which team do you support? (apologies if you’re a gooner)

  83. Am I being thick or do players have to be ‘home-grown’ by the present club – not any club????????????

  84. Irishgunner says:

    What do you mean Peaches?

  85. Rasp says:


    I think peaches is asking can a foreign player who has been with a club (in the country) long enough to be categorised as ‘home grown’, still be considered as such if he moves to another club.

  86. Irishgunner says:

    If he say moved from Arsenal to Manchester United? I.E. if he moved to a club in the same country?

  87. Rasp says:

    Yes, i.e. can a young player be homegrown by another club?

  88. Irishgunner says:

    Interesting question.

    I wouldn’t think so because I think the wording says “club” and not “country”

  89. SharkeySure says:

    Well if it is only from your own club then that is even better news for us.

    Can you imagine the cost of young English players if that wasn’t the case !!!

    Alternatively, academies would be chock full of talented young foreigners aged abetwen 15 and 16. Then there would an annual event lest, where the young players are harvestd and stamped with ‘homegrown’ across their foreheads and taken to market !!

  90. Rasp says:

    😆 Sharkey

    Wenger the herdsman…… 😉

  91. Chippy says:

    Peaches you can join the boys in a verse of Eyes Right now 🙂

    Anyone else catch the cloughie special on TV last night as the saying goes they don’t make them like that anymore 😉 What a waste that he never managed England he was years ahead of his time, Also so sad by the end.

  92. irishgunner says:

    That’s in drafts Rasp/Peaches.

  93. mjc says:

    Peaches – there are no constraints on which club the player was developed by. So Joe Cole, for instance, will be homegrown at Liverpool. With regard to Arsenal, only Sol Campbell is covered by this rule as, apparently, he started his career at another English club….
    The Champions League rules are more specific on this as a proportion (I think it’s half) of the homegrown players are required to have been developed by the club itself.

  94. Rasp says:

    Hi mjc,

    A great debut to your ‘ArsenalArsenal’ career 😛 so far your article has attracted over 3,000 visits to the site .. congratulations! Your name is in the List of Authors widget

  95. SharkeySure says:

    Congrats from me too MJC. Well done Sir

  96. London says:

    This new idea I assume is designed to encourage clubs to invest more resources into English and Welsh players…but it seems to me that the tiny amount of talent that this country produces will become even more inflated forcing even more clubs to turn to, and develop, young players from other countries……just a thought.

  97. gnarleygeorge9 says:

    I just saw the latest antics of Barcelona on tele here concerning the media manipulation re The Cesc Saga. Pepe Le Pew & Sandra Rosell are to make a “passionate” plea to Le Proffy in London to get him to sell our Captain who still has 4-5 years on his contract.

    This pack of ignorant bastardos just do not understand the word “No”.

    I hate Barcalona. FOREVER!!!!!!!

  98. SharkeySure says:

    Agreed Gnarley !!

  99. Morning all

    Theres a NEW POST

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