As Manchester City transfer rumours continue to gather pace, one aspect that is easily forgotten is the Premier League directive with regard to ‘foreign’ and ‘homegrown’ players.
Premier League clubs must form a squad of up to 25 senior players and only 17 can be ‘non-homegrown’, i.e. foreigners who did not spend three years before the age of 21 in the youth system of an English club.
In a maximum squad of 25, eight must be homegrown, i.e. have come through an English academy but not necessarily English. Frenchman Gael Clichy, for example, qualifies as homegrown. It is not necessary to have a full 25-man squad. If you only have six homegrown players for example, then you simply reduce your squad size accordingly to 23 and compensate with under 21s. Teams can add as many under 21 players as they wish regardless of nationality.
Let’s look at Man City’s situation.
There are total of 38 players on City’s books with 12 out on loan.
- 17 are senior foreign players (i.e. non-homegrown) with 5 out on loan
- 6 are either English or homegrown with 3 out on loan
- 3 are non-homegrown under 21 players. with 4 out on loan
Therefore this season Pep is using his maximum allowed number of senior foreign players (17) but has opted to go with a smaller squad size of 23 rather than the allowed 25 – presumably due to the difficulty of including additional homegrown players who are either fit for purpose or available at an acceptable transfer fee.
Foreign Under 21s
These players can be sold but are likely to stay or be loaned or re-loaned.
Gabriel Jesus (20), Kelechi Iheanacho (20) and Aleix Garcia (19) all feature in the squad as foreign under-21 additions. Iheanacho and Garcia however will become ‘homegrown’ at the age of 21.
Pablo Maffeo (on loan, 19), Jose Angel Tasende (on loan, 20), Oleksander Zinchenko (on loan, 20) and Marlos Moreno (on loan, 20) may be sold, re-loaned or recalled without issue with the first two becoming ‘homegrown’ when they reach the age of 21.
Homegrown / English
Man City have 6 either English or ‘homegrown’ players in their squad with 4 on loan: Gael Clichy (out of contract), John Stones, Fabian Delph, Raheem Sterling, Angus Gunn, Tosin Adarabioyo (out of contract), Jason Denayer (on loan), Joe Hart (on loan), Aaron Mooy (on loan) and Patrick Roberts (on loan). Of these, Clichy and Adarabioyo (both out of contract) and Hart are considered certain to leave and Delph and Denayer are felt to be vulnerable.
Senior Foreign Players
Of the 20 senior foreign players, 4 are out of contract (Willy Caballero, Jesus Navas, Bacary Sagna, Pablo Zabaleta) with Navas and Zabaleta considered certain to leave.
Samir Nasri, Wilifried Bony, Eliaquim Mangala and Bruno Zuculini (23) are on loan with Bony, Mangala and Nasri deemed certain to depart.
A further 9 are vulnerable (Yaya Toure, Claudio Bravo, Vincent Kompany, Fernando Reges, Nicolas Otamendi and Sergio Aguero).
Only 6 of the foreign senior stars are held to be safe in their squad positions: (Leroy Sane, Kevin DeBruyne, David Silva, Fernandinho, Ilkay Gundogan, Aleksandar Kolarov) with some also questioning the futures of Kolarov and Caballero (out of contract).
What does it all mean?
Well you have to do the Math yourself, however:
Senior foreign stars up to a total of 17 can be sold and replaced like for like without problems if City can maintain at least 8 English/Homegrown players in a squad of 25 – or fewer if Guardiola wishes to continue his policy of employing a smaller senior squad.
As seen above, the 6 players City have in the homegrown category will drop to 4 if you accept that Adarabioyo and Clichy will leave or 3 if Delph is also to go.
Since homegrown Hart was on loan anyway and not in the squad, it seems as if City will have to buy 2-3 homegrown players this summer however they can recall Roberts, Mooy or Denayer to reduce or eliminate this shortfall if they wish.
Pep can buy or recall foreign under 21 stars as they qualify as part of the unlimited group of underage players allowed. Bersant Celina (20) and/or Enes Ünal (19) both at FC Twente fit this description and another unlikely but still feasible option is to take a gamble on the promotion of 17 year-old foreign youngsters Jadon Sancho or Brahim Diaz.