Effects of 25-man squad rule become clear with Arsenal forced to adopt more ruthless approach

Almost a year after its inception, the effects of the rule limiting Barclays Premier League sides to naming just 25 players over the age of 21 in their squads are beginning to become clear.

The rule had little initial impact on Arsenal, who were able to ensure that all of their young professionals were eligible to play in the Premier League last season by splitting them between their ‘senior squad’ and their under-21 squad, with the latter allowing an unlimited number of players.

This year, however, things are a little different, as several of the players who came into the younger category last season must now be included in the ‘senior squad’ if they are to be eligible for any top-flight action. This has already had something of an impact on the club, as evidenced by the decision to release Mark Randall, who, under the criteria, would be classed as a senior player for the 2011/12 campaign, whilst the decision to allow Thomas Cruise to leave is likely to have been made as part of the process of culling the vast number of young professionals at the club.

A decision does not need to be made on Hoyte's future until next Summer

Pedro Botelho is also considered a senior player for the new campaign and, if the indications suggested by the player himself are to be believed, is likely to be part of the first-team squad, especially given that Gael Clichy is yet to commit to a new deal. Gavin Hoyte, meanwhile,  is a somewhat different case as, despite being part of the same scholarship intake as Randall (2006), his birthday falls in June, meaning that he is not considered a senior player until the following campaign.

In effect, then, the impact of the 25-man squad rule is that it has forced the club to adopt a more ruthless approach with regards to its young professionals. Jay Simpson, Havard Nordtveit, Nacer Barazite, Roarie Deacon and Cedric Evina have all been allowed to leave in the past 12 months, whilst the rule has also ensured that a situation such as the one that saw Kerrea Gilbert remain at the club beyond his 23rd birthday despite being nothing more than a fringe player will not be allowed to materialise again.

Instead, the club must make their decisions regarding the fate of their young professionals much earlier than before. This has been reflected in the policy to only award one-year pro deals to those scholars who have impressed in patches but are yet to fully convince. That policy saw Deacon leave the club earlier than many had anticipated, whilst Jernade Meade and George Brislen-Hall, the latest scholars to graduate to professional terms, have only been offered 12-month contracts.

The rule also means that the forthcoming season will be a pivotal one as far as some of the club’s 2007 intake of scholars is concerned. This group, considered to be one of the most illustrious to be incorporated into the club since the switch to the Academy format, has already lost two key members in Cruise and Luke Ayling. Decisions, however difficult, must be made over the futures of the likes of Henri Lansbury, Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, Craig Eastmond and Rhys Murphy over the next 12 months.

For the 2011/12 campaign, under 21 players are those born on or after January 1st, 1990, meaning that Theo Walcott, Kieran Gibbs and Armand Traore will have to be included in the ‘senior’ squad if they remain at the club. Clubs cannot include more than 17 ‘non-homegrown’ players in their squads.

At present, the current breakdown is:


1) Manuel Almunia (age 34)

2) Abou Diaby (age 25)

3) Bacary Sagna (age 28)

4) Cesc Fabregas (age 24)

5) Thomas Vermaelen (age 25)

6) Laurent Koscielny (age 25)

7) Tomas Rosicky (age 30)

08) Samir Nasri (age 23)

9) Robin van Persie (age 27)

10) Carlos Vela (age 22)

11) Theo Walcott (age 22)

12) Denilson (age 23)

13) Alex Song (age 23)

14) Sebastien Squillaci (age 30)

15) Johan Djourou (age 24)

16) Lukasz Fabianski (age 26)

17) Gael Clichy (age 25)

18) Andrey Arshavin (age 30)

19) Emmanuel Eboue (age 28)

20) Kieran Gibbs (age 21)

21) Marouane Chamakh (age 27)

22) Vito Mannone (age 23)

23) Armand Traore (age 21)

24) Nicklas Bendtner (age 23)

25) Pedro Botelho (age 21)


Wojciech Szczesny (age 21), Gavin Hoyte (age 21), Craig Eastmond (age 20), Jay Emmanuel-Thomas (age 20), Henri Lansbury (age 20), Rhys Murphy (age 20), Sanchez Watt (age 20), Gilles Sunu (age 20), Francis Coquelin (age 20), Aaron Ramsey (age 20),  Kyle Bartley (age 20), James Shea (age 19), Jack Wilshere (age 19), Luke Freeman (age 19), Emmanuel Frimpong (age 19), Conor Henderson (age 19), Damian Martinez (age 19), Samuel Galindo (age 19), Benik Afobe (age 18), Daniel Boateng (age 18), Jernade Meade (age 18), Oguzhan Ozyakup (age 18), George Brislen-Hall (age 18), Ignasi Miquel (age 18), Ryo Miyaichi (age 18), Wellington (age 18), Sean McDermott (age 18), Nico Yennaris (age 18), Sead Hajrovic (age 18), Chuks Aneke (age 17), Martin Angha (age 17), Kyle Ebecilio (age 17), Jamie Edge (age 17), Elton Monteiro (age 17), Zak Ansah (age 17), Samir Bihmoutine (age 17), James Campbell (age 17), Reice Charles-Cook (age 17), Ben Glasgow (age 17), Jeffrey Monakana (age 17), Nigel Neita (age 17), Josh Rees (age 17), Philip Roberts (age 17), Steven Smith (age 17), Callum Webb (age 17), Jordan Wynter (age 17), Alban Bunjaku (age 17), Anthony Jeffrey (age 16), Isaac Hayden (age 16), Zak Fagan (age 16), Serge Gnabry (age 16), Jon Toral (age 16), Kristoffer Olsson (age 16), Hector Bellerin (age 16).



  1. so what do you think this means for players like galindo? he wont return before he is 22. will he be counted as part of our 25 even if he is on loan in another country?.

  2. Frankly Arsenal’s squads are ‘bottom heavy’.

    This season has proven that our first team squad lacks sufficient depth of quality to win trophies. It is not just
    about the age and experience.

    Arsenal have become too egalitarian in their transfer and wage structure. We are not competing with Man City, Man Utd and Chelsea or indeed the likes of Real,Barca and Bayern plus top Italian clubs when it comes to players of proven world class.

    The club needs to revalue its top players such as Fabregas,Nasri,Van Persie and Wilshire who are difficult
    to replace.

    Most of the other players in our squad are frankly easy to replace and in some cases grossly overvalued.
    Players like Almunia,Squillaci,Eboue,Denilson,Rosicky and Bendtner should now be offloaded and replaced with three players of real quality and players like Frimpong and Lansbury brought into the squad
    who are almost certainly just as talented and probably more competitive and ambitious than many of those
    listed above.

    1. How much do you think it would have cost to buy Wilshere, Fabregas, Van Persie, Nasri, Clichy, Chezzer, etc at their 24-year old value?

      The youth approach is definitely a winner, but I think Wenger has been disappointed with some of the kids and he has made some comments to that effect. It’s fair to say most of us expected a Brazil U19 captain to be a hit, not to mention a Mexican striker regarded as better than Hernandez, and a French midfielder considered to be central to the future French team (Diaby). It seems like Barca has had better luck with their crop than we have, and let’s be honest, they’ve hit their golden patch and won’t see a top crop of homegrown kids like that again for a while.

      1. i agree with you. some of them let wenger down. or maybe there’s something wrong with our coaches. i still think the like of denilson, vela, bendtner and diaby can be a success in other leagues, but not in EPL. better let them go now, give local lads like hansbury a chance, i think he at least won’t do worst than denilson.

  3. I thought Traore came under Home-grown as he joined Aug 06 and spent the 3 seasons necessary in england before his 21st birthday to qualify.

  4. No Schezzadinho listed.

    If Martinez becomes 3rd choice goalie frees up some space for a couple of years, but there will be some tough decisions ahead with what to do when Wilshere, Lansbury, etc turn 21.

    We could feasibly see 9 of the 25 you list there leave, with 4 of those being ‘homegrown’. That would mean we would need to have at least 3 more players who fill that criteria bought in.

  5. The 25-man squad rule sucks. I fucking hate it. We will lose a lot of quality midfielders in the next few years.
    Why don’t they make it 17 non homegrown players but as many homegrown as you want or at least more than 8 homegrown players like 10-12 or something?

  6. i’m not sure but i don’t think you’re interpreting the rules exactly right…

    we can still keep over 21’s on the books if they’re away on loan right?

    also, i think we’ll be losing a few old foreigners like almunia and squillaci soon, so i think we’re ok with what we have.

    i don’t think we’ll see too many brutal cuts.

  7. There is one thing that this rule will affect and thats the transfer value of academy players going on 19-21. Clubs interested will know that teams are going to have to sell when those players considered not good enough for the first team reach 21. This is going to make it less feasible to spend money in a good academy.

  8. I did wonder about this when the rule came out. If u keep producing talent each year then a senior player must be sold for each young talent that comes through. However for the this coming season I think we’ll be ok as almunia, denilson, bendtner and eboue are likely to leave. Also question marks over rosicky and diaby and we cant rule out nasr. Which leaves plenty of room for new faces.

  9. Our standard will be a lot higher with this rule and a lot of will be sold earlier but only the very very best will make it.

  10. Sell Rosicky,Clichy,Denilson,Bendtner, Almunia and Squillaci. I would like to buy Cahill,Baines,Alvarez and Gervinho.

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