Wenger: New squad rules 'disastrous' for football
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes the new restrictions on Premier League squads will prove a "disastrous decision for football and for the players''.
From this season, all Premier League sides have to name a first-team squad of no more than 25, of which eight must be so-called 'home-grown' players.
These new regulations will, however, not severely impact the Gunners, who despite having a large number of non-British players have the likes of captain Cesc Fabregas, Denilson, Gael Clichy, Nicklas Bendtner, and Alex Song all coming under the 'home-grown' category along with Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs. Players must have spent three years between the ages of 16-21 registered at a club in England and Wales to qualify. Wenger, though, is not in favour of any such limitations.
"I am not a big fan of it because it puts, first of all, many players without clubs,'' he said. "Secondly it puts the clubs in a weak position most of the time in the transfer market because when you already have 25 players and you buy another one, you know you have 26 and now have to get rid of one. So when you buy a player, you have to integrate into the transfer how much it will also cost to get rid of a player because you are not sure if you will be capable after of selling the player.
"This is a disastrous decision for football and for the players. I was quite amazed that the union [PFA] accepted that. For the clubs as well it is a very bad decision.''
Wenger rejected the suggestion the new rules would prevent the "stockpiling'' of players by certain teams: "The big clubs will always have 25 top players and you will not stop that by this kind of decision. When the big clubs have already employed a player and he has to go to a smaller club, there are only two solutions. The smaller club has to pay above their own potential or the big club pays an amount of a salary. In either case it's not satisfactory.''
Wenger maintains Arsenal cannot use lack of big-money signings as an "excuse'' should the Gunners fail to land the Premier League title next season. Arsenal, whose challenge faded as they finished third in May, have once again seen their rivals heavily invest during the summer - with Manchester City again bankrolling an incredible spree to the best part of £100 million as they look to blow the title race wide open.
Conversely, Wenger has brought in Morocco striker Marouane Chamakh, a free transfer after his contract with Bordeaux expired and unproven French centre-back Laurent Koscielny, in a reported £10 million deal from Lorient. Wenger, however, insists his young squad have the talent to mount a sustained assault on what could be a first championship since the unbeaten campaign of 2003/2004.
"I am concerned about the focus of my team and the quality of my team, and we will try and do as well as well we can,'' said Wenger, whose side host AC Milan on Saturday and then play Scottish giants Celtic in the Emirates Cup on Sunday. "No matter what happens this season, the money will not be an excuse if we do not achieve our targets. We know the world we live in.
"Do I think we have a team to play at the top? Looking at the players we have, I say yes. It does not go into financial consideration. I judge whether they are good enough in the championship. Have the other clubs more money or less money? It is not important. It is whether the players are better players or lesser players and I think we can compete with the players we have.''
Wenger, though, feels the forthcoming campaign is set to be an "open'' contest.
"I feel there will be more teams fighting for the title,'' he said. "It makes it more interesting and open as well - we have seen the start of that last season as well, all of the top teams lost points against the second part of the Premier League. That trend could even become stronger this year. There are the three who dominated last year, then you have Spurs, Liverpool, Manchester City, Aston Villa - and you also have one team who is a surprise at the start of the season.''