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By ESPN Staff

Vialli: English players cost far too much

Former Chelsea manager Gianluca Vialli has claimed that English stars are over-priced - and that forces managers to buy cheap foreign players. Vialli has backed a report by the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) which says English football is in crisis due to a drop in the number of young players coming through the system. Vialli, the Italian who was the first Premier League manager to pick an entirely foreign XI, said in the PFA report 'Meltdown': 'The sheer price of English players is the main turn-off. 'Shaun Wright-Philips is worth £20million because he's English. If he were, say, Portuguese, he'd cost a quarter of that. 'The scarcity of English talent, coupled with the belief that they are less of a risk in terms of adaptability, is what drives their price through the roof.' The PFA have called on the Premier League to bring in a new rule so that every team has at least three home-grown players - but of any nationality - on the pitch at any time in order to reverse the trend. The report says in 1992-3, 71% of top-flight players were English while last season that had dropped to 38%. It also shows that since the Academy system began, only 120 English players from academies have made debuts in the Premier League. During the same time, 617 overseas players have made debuts in the top flight. The report states: 'The bottom line is a very simple one. Older, ready-made foreign players are blocking young English players' path into the Premier League.' PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor told PA Sport: 'It is a crisis - we commissioned this report before England had failed to qualify for Euro 2008 because we could see which way the wind was blowing. 'We have reached a situation where when a few England players are injured, their places are taken by others who are not even first-choice for their clubs. 'We are not objecting to clubs bringing in young foreign players to their academies, because at least there is a level playing field there for young English players. 'We are saying though that we need to encourage youth development so that home-grown players irrespective of nationality have a better chance. 'Premier League clubs demand instant success and do not have the desire or the will to introduce youngsters - and in many cases even the bench is full of foreign players bought in for a quick fix.' The Premier League insist the Academy system is already paying off in terms of producing English talent. A spokesman said: 'Premier League clubs are intellectually and financially wedded to producing the best possible talent from their Academies. 'The figures show 85% of 16-18 year olds in the system are British, so this indicates that locally-produced talent is getting the opportunity to progress.'