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Arsenal don’t have a homegrown problem


Liverpool FC v Arsenal FC - Carabao Cup Round of 16 Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Arsenal do not have a homegrown player problem with their roster, at least not yet. Much has been made over the past few transfer windows about the homegrown requirements and Arsenal’s squad, in large part because the Gunners signed players like David Luiz, Willian, Cedric Soares, etc. — non-homegrown, over-21 year old players.

First things first, “homegrown player” has nothing to do with nationality. A player is “homegrown” if he spent three seasons or 36 months, consecutive or not, registered for a Football Association or Football Association of Wales club before his 21st birthday or the end of the season in which he turned 21. So for example, Cesc Fabregas was a homegrown player despite being Spanish. Héctor Bellerín is in the same situation.

The Premier League allows clubs to register 25 over-21 players. 17 of those players can be non-homegrown. Any additional players up to that 25-man limit must be homegrown. So having overage, homegrown players is useful because it allows a club to register a deeper senior roster.

Clubs are allowed to register any number of U21’s, regardless of homegrown status. If you look at the Premier League rosters from 2020-21, clubs have pretty much their entire U21 youth roster registered because they can and because registering them counts towards hitting that magical three-season mark.

Arsenal currently have 17 overage, non-homegrown players under contract, which is the registration limit.

Cedric Soares
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Gabriel Magalhaes
Mohamed Elneny
Sead Kolasinac
Alexandre Lacazette
Bernd Leno
Alex Runarsson
Pablo Mari
Thomas Partey
Nicolas Pepe
Kieran Tierney
Granit Xhaka
Matteo Guendouzi
Lucas Torreira
Dinos Mavropanos

Kolasinac, Xhaka, Guendouzi, Torreira, and Mavropanos are not likely to be at the club next season, and I don’t think Alex Runarsson will be the backup keeper. So that knocks the number down to 11.

Arsenal currently have 7 overage, homegrown players under contract.

Hector Bellerin (O)
Calum Chambers (O)
Rob Holding (O)
Ainsley Maitland-Niles (O)
Joe Willock (O)
Eddie Nketiah (O)
Reiss Nelson (O)

Bellerin seems likely to be leaving the club this summer, and there have been rumors swirling around all four of AMN, Willock, Nketiah, and Nelson. Given that the club are a bit short on overage homegrowns, I doubt that all five of those guys will leave the club this summer. But for counting’s sake, let’s say that Bellerin, Maitland-Niles, Nketiah, and Nelson all leave this summer.

Arsenal have 5 U21 guys who will (or might in the case of Balogun and Saliba) be regulars next season. Either way, they won’t count towards the 25-man roster limit. Sidenote: both Saliba and Martinelli will count as homegrown when they turn 22.

Bukayo Saka
Emile Smith Rowe
Gabriel Martinelli
William Saliba
Folarin Balogun

So if you math it out and project for next season, Arsenal have somewhere from 15-17 “regular” Premier League players on their roster. The club actually needs to bulk up the roster by a few guys. Well, trim down THEN bulk up. But that’s an entirely different post.

For now, Arsenal are fine when it comes to homegrown players, but only because we expect several overage, non-homegrowns to leave this summer. Each one of the six we’ve projected to leave the club this summer opens a slot for a player that Arsenal signs in the transfer window.