Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has called for the loan system to be overhauled, insisting players who make short-term switches to rival Premier League sides should be allowed to play against their parent club.
• Cross: Striker still needed
Arsenal will line up against Romelu Lukaku when he plays for Everton at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday, but the Belgium forward is not permitted to take to the field against his parent club, Chelsea.
Wenger has suggested that rule has the potential to unbalance the Premier League, with wealthy clubs capable of stockpiling players and loaning them to other clubs safe in the knowledge that only their rivals can be affected by such moves.
“The system of loaning out players has existed for a while and I’m not against it,” Wenger said. “I just think that the players should be allowed as well to play against the team who has loaned the player out.
“I always did plead for that because there is no reason once you signed for a club that you should not be allowed to play against everybody. When you sign for a club it means, ‘I commit for every single game I play for this club,’ and there should be no exception.
“We have not as many players as Chelsea, you know, and there was a congestion of strikers there. They thought that Lukaku, maybe he would have very little chance to play at Chelsea, I don’t know.”
Wenger seemed bemused that the rules on loan players playing against their parent clubs had been changed in recent years, with his memory of the old system fresh in his mind.
“Of course, at some stage when I arrived in England, you could decide if you loan a player out can he play against you or not,” he said. “I remember I had that case with [Francis] Jeffers when I loaned him out [to Everton] and I always said: ‘Yes, if I loan a player out I allow him to play against us,’ even if in the case of Jeffers he scored against us. I just think it is right.”