Explainer: How do homegrown quota rules affect Liverpool’s current squad and transfer plans?

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Since the beginning of the summer transfer window, you’ll have seen the phrase ‘homegrown quota’ mentioned frequently on this site.

As its name suggests, it pertains to a certain number of players in the squads of English clubs such as Liverpool who must be either born or trained in the country, which in turn could have an impact on the transfer dealings of Premier League sides.

Homegrown rules tend to vary from one competition to another, while there’s also an allowance for under-21 or ‘List B’ players, so it can be tricky to assess where teams are at in terms of their respective quotas.

Our explainer aims to clear up where Liverpool stand with their current squad in relation to the various requirements around this subject.

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What is the homegrown rule and why is it in place?

Let’s start with the basics. In the Premier League, a homegrown player is defined as someone ‘who, irrespective of nationality or age, has been registered with any FA-affiliated club for at least three years before their 21st birthday (or the end of the season during which he turns 21)’.

The rationale behind it is to boost the talent pool for the England national team by requiring clubs to select a certain percentage of homegrown players in their squads.

What are the requirements around homegrown player quotas?

In the Premier League, every club must submit a squad list of no more than 25 players, with 17 the maximum permissible number of non-homegrown players. A full squad will contain at least eight who qualify as homegrown under the competition’s criteria.

It can occur that clubs with fewer than eight homegrown senior players don’t name the full squad of 25 if they reach their limit of 17 non-homegrown members.

You mentioned something about under-21 players earlier. Can you elaborate here?

Sure. For the upcoming Premier League season, any player born on 1 January 2002 or later qualifies as under-21. There is no limit on how many such players can be included in a club’s top-flight squad, so even if they’re not English, they aren’t classed towards the non-homegrown quota.

Clubs can use an unlimited number of under-21 players to bolster their squad. For the 2023-24 Premier League campaign, those players will have been born on or after January 1, 2002.

I’ve heard instances of non-English players now older than 21 who qualify as homegrown. How does that work?

Irrespective of nationality, a player can qualify as homegrown if they’ve featured for a club affiliated to the FA for at least three years before their 21st birthday.

For instance, Caoimhin Kelleher can be classed as a homegrown player despite being 24 and a Republic of Ireland international. That’s because he first came to Liverpool as a 16-year-old and has been with the club ever since, duly meeting the league’s criteria.

Gotcha. So where do Liverpool currently stand with their homegrown quotas, then?

Liverpool currently have 16 of their 17 permissible non-homegrown Premier League squad berths filled.

If they sign an overseas transfer target such as Perr Schuurs, that’ll take the last remaining non-homegrown vacancy, leaving room for eight homegrown players aged 21 or older. The Reds can currently fill their quota in that regard, albeit with a few names who may leave Anfield before the end of the summer transfer window.

Harvey Elliott, Stefan Bajcetic and Ben Doak aren’t included on that list given that they’re still under 21. The same would go for two of Liverpool’s main current targets in Romeo Lavia and Levi Colwill, hence why both are highly coveted aside from their footballing talents.

I heard somewhere that the rules are slightly different between the Premier League and Europa League. Is that correct?

Yes, there are some slight yet crucial differences in homegrown eligibility criteria between the two competitions.

Similar to the Premier League, UEFA requires clubs to reserve at least eight squad berths for ‘locally trained’ players, with this category divided into two.

Four must be club-trained (i.e. someone ‘who, between the age of 15 and 21, irrespective of nationality and age, has been registered with his current club for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons’).

Four more can be association-trained (i.e. someone ‘who, between the age of 15 and 21, has been registered with a club or other clubs affiliated to the relevant national championship for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons’.)

Clubs can also submit a ‘List B’ of players 21 or younger as of 1 January 2002 who’ve either been eligible to play for them for a two-year uninterrupted period or three consecutive years with a maximum one-year loan to a club from the same country.

OK, I think I follow. Where does that leave Liverpool’s Europa League squad with their current players, then?

Firstly, Liverpool have their full complement of four club-trained players: Kelleher, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Curtis Jones.

However, there’s room for two more association-trained players in the squad, with only Jordan Henderson and Nat Phillips currently considered in this bracket. Lavia and Colwill could take the other two places if signed, having been trained at English clubs but not meeting the criteria for ‘List B’.

Among those who do qualify for ‘List B’ are Elliott, Bajcetic, Tyler Morton and Conor Bradley.

If Doak is selected for the Europa League squad, Liverpool would fill their entire quota of 17 non-homegrown players:

Wait, Doak is only 17. Why does he have to count as a senior non-homegrown player if selected for Europe?

Despite not turning 21 until November 2026, the forward doesn’t qualify for any of the other three lists.

Having only joined from Celtic a year ago, he won’t meet the classification as a club-trained or association-trained player until 2025.

He’s also one year short of qualifying for ‘List B’, so if he’s to play in the 2023/24 Europa League, he’ll have to take the last remaining non-homegrown berth in Liverpool’s squad for the tournament.

Now that we’ve learned all that, how could the various rules affect Liverpool’s transfer business?

Let’s look at some Reds-linked players and assess where they fall in with the various homegrown criteria.

Romeo Lavia

PL: Would qualify as an under-21 player (still only 19)

EL: Would count as an association-trained player (been with either Manchester City or Southampton since 2020)

Despite being a Belgium international, Lavia wouldn’t count towards the non-homegrown quota for either tournament, therefore making him a very appealing transfer target for Liverpool.

Levi Colwill

PL: Would qualify as an under-21 player (still only 20)

EL: Would count as an association-trained player (been on Chelsea’s books since 2011)

Colwill is still young enough to leave a senior homegrown berth for other English players in the Premier League for two more seasons, having been born in February 2003. His nationality could make him very attractive to clubs in this country.

Ryan Gravenberch

PL: Would qualify as an under-21 player (born after January 2002) but only for the 2023/24 season

EL: Similar to Doak, would have to be registered as a non-homegrown player despite being born after January 2002, due to having insufficient prior involvement in English football

The Dutchman would take the last non-homegrown Europa League berth if signed (and if it’s not given to Doak), although he’d at least get one Premier League campaign without affecting any quotas.

Perr Schuurs

PL: The 23-year-old Dutchman would be classed as a non-homegrown player.

EL: Same as above.

Federico Chiesa

PL: The 25-year-old Italian would be classed as a non-homegrown player.

EL: Same as above.

Federico Valverde

PL: The 24-year-old Uruguayan would be classed as a non-homegrown player.

EL: Same as above.

Aurelien Tchouameni

PL: The 23-year-old Frenchman would be classed as a non-homegrown player.

EL: Same as above.

Of those latter four names, realistically no more than one would be signed by Liverpool this summer (barring potential player exits freeing up other berths), as otherwise it’d leave a senior squad member needing to be omitted from the Premier League and Europa League squads.

This may explain why players like Lavia and Colwill carry more appeal for English clubs, due to the added scope for other signings to keep within their non-homegrown limits.

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