Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger spoke recently of his dislike for the current loan regulations that prevent a loanee playing against their parent club. He said: “Personally, I would not ban players on loan from playing against their own clubs. What I would like to see in the Premier League is that you are not allowed to loan players over the age of 21”.
Wenger’s comments reiterated a point he made in November, that Manchester City are effectively paying Emmanuel Adebayor to score for Tottenham against City’s rivals, but that he is not allowed to do the same against City. Wenger perceives this to be unfair, an exploitation of the loan system that was introduced to aid the development of young players not getting a chance at their own club.
City’s riches mean they have a surplus of talented players, and with no need to rapidly remove them from their wage bill they can be loaned out to rival sides. In doing so these players can attract interest from other clubs for a permanent deal and potentially help City in the process. Some would argue that this is just a benefit of having wealthy owners and that while it is permitted by the regulations then teams and managers shouldn’t be criticised for doing so.
Wenger is known for his footballing ideologies though and the concept of the über rich owner flaunting their wealth and control over other sides clearly doesn’t sit right with the Frenchman. So whilst he is happy to let his young players go out on loan he would rather not see older professionals loaned between clubs. Were it not for the fact that Arsenal currently have two players in their 30s on loan, Thierry Henry and Yossi Benayoun, then it would be easier to sympathise with Wenger’s views. He has taken these players on loan to supplement his squad that is lacking depth and experience, arguably due to his mis-management.
The current regulations also prevent any possible allegations of corruption. Were Adebayor allowed to play against City then questions would be raised as to where the player’s true allegiances lay. Should he miss an easy chance to score against his parent club there would inevitably be suspicions of foul play and the integrity of the player would be called into question. So whilst loans are allowed it seems the safest option to prevent a loanee lining up against their parent club.
The loan system in its current form is beneficial to all clubs, however it does appear to favour the richer ones. I agree with Wenger that over 21 players shouldn’t be loaned, and I suspect more football traditionalists would concur with the Arsenal manager’s views were he not being somewhat of a hypocrite in saying so. If teams were forced to name their 25 man squad at the end of each transfer window, with no loanees over 21, it may force managers to reconsider their transfer policy and produce a more sustainable financial future for their club.