Saturday, 9 July 2011

Official: Arsenal must sell before they can buy

There has been much concern and consternation among Gooners because Arsene Wenger has said that he wants to bring only 'one or two' players in.

But the truth is that Arsenal are forced to sell players before they can buy due to the Premier League squad rules. The rules state that teams may have only 25 players over the age of 21 on 1 January 1990.

The list below shows the Arsenal players who fall into this category. Note that players marked with * in the list are considered 'home grown'.We need to have at least eight of these in the squad according to the rules, I believe.
  • Goalkeepers: Fabianski, Almunia*,Mannone*
  • Defenders: Vermaelen, Djourou*, Koscielny, Squillaci, Gibbs*, Traore*, Botelho, Sagna, Eboue
  • Midfielders: Song*, Denilson*, Diaby, Fabregas*, Rosicky, Nasri, Arshavin, Vela, Walcott*, Bendtner*
  • Forwards: Van Persie, Chamakh
Arsenal's other first-team squad members, Szczesny, Frimpong, Eastmond, Lansbury and Emmanuel-Thomas are all considered under-21 players under the rules and are therefore exempt. As are Jenkinson, Bartley, Miquel, Coquelin, Wellington and Miyaichi, who will also be hoping for a place in the first-team squad this season.

That means Arsenal currently have 24 of their 25 permitted players for their squad, nine of which are considered home grown. When you add Gervinho, who is expected to sign very shortly, that means we have no places left in the squad for a new signings. None!

There have been a lot of rumours about Nasri and Cesc leaving. Of course I think we all hope that both will stay, but for the purposes of this exercise we will assume that they either stay or are replaced. Note however that if Cesc were to leave, it would reduce the number of home grown players by one.

Players who we hope might be leaving include Almunia, Squillaci, Denilson, Vela and Bendtner, but so far no-one has made any suitable offers for any of these. I think we can rule out the sale of Eboue (the official Arsenal website shows Jenkinson as a reserve team player), and Rosicky and Arshavin (who have both said that Arsene Wenger has told them he has no intention of selling them).

Additional places may be freed up if Mannone, Traore, Botelho or someone else goes out on loan, but so far this hasn't happened. Considering Kieran Gibbs injury record over his career so far, Wenger might consider it prudent to hold on to both Traore and Botelho (assuming that he can get a work permit for him) and we may need to retain Mannone if Almunia is sold, so there is little scope for maneuvre here. Note again also that Mannone and Traore are considered home grown, which is an additional consideration.

We could of course take a risk and sign a player without getting rid of any first, but then buying clubs would be aware that we need to shift players and this could bring down the price of those that we are trying to sell.

So, in conclusion, although we hope that Arsene Wenger will be making a few signings, realistically we need to get rid of a few before we can sign anyone.

Picture courtesy Matt and Kim Rudge.

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