Arsene Wenger has questioned proposals put forward by the FA that would increase the number of ‘home-grown’ players required in Premier League squads and restrict the number of foreign stars clubs could field.
The reforms promoted by FA Chairman Greg Dyke would see the amount of ‘home-grown’ players needed in senior squads increased from eight to 12, whilst also changing the definition of what is ‘home-grown’ by requiring players to be registered with clubs three years before the age of 18 rather than 21.
The Arsenal boss pointed out that, despite a distinct lack of foreign players in the English top-flight from 1966 to 1996, the national side failed to win any international titles and even missed out on qualifying for the 1974, 1978 and 1994 World Cups.
The Daily Telegraph claims that five England managers – including Sven-Goran Eriksson and Kevin Keegan – have backed the plans, saying the Three Lions chances of winning the World Cup again are next to impossible unless there is unification behind Dyke’s proposals.
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However, Wenger says, whilst he would love to contribute in some way to the quality of the England national side, these proposals will likely not have their desired effect.
“I believe we are in a top level competition and you earn your right through the quality of your performance, rather than your place of birth,” said Wenger.
“Secondly, I’m happy to and would like to contribute to the quality of the English national team, but you have two questions you can raise before that.
“What is the heart of the problem? First of all, between 1966 and ’96 there were no foreign players in England and it didn’t improve too much the performances of the national team.
“Secondly, if between the ages of 16 and 21 the youth teams in England win every single competition in Europe then you could say yes, there is something that we have to do because they are not getting their chance at the top level.
“That is not the case, on the contrary. I think between 16 and 21 the English youth teams, until now, have not performed. So that’s the heart of the problem. Let’s get better at that level, then if there is a problem integrating these players in the top teams, we have to do something about it.
“I think today you have to be very brave to integrate the young players in the top teams because the pressure is very high. I still believe when the players are good enough, they play.
“You speak about Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane. Nobody stops the quality, no matter where they are from. So let’s focus on that first.
“Apart from that I support every single measure that improves the English national team, but it has to be efficient. Sometimes what looks a good solution is not necessarily the right one.”
The current rules famously allowed the likes of Nicklas Bendtner and Cesc Fabregas to count towards Arsenal’s homegrown quota during their time at the club, despite having been born in Denmark and Spain respectively.
Under the new directives, this would not be the case and it’s likely they would dramatically change when and how clubs buy foreign talent.