Top Premier League clubs seek rule change on signing overseas talent

EXCLUSIVE: Top Premier League clubs call for post-Brexit rules banning them from signing under-18s to be CHANGED… amid fears they risk missing out on the best, young overseas talent following the UK’s exit from the EU

  • Premier League clubs could previously sign overseas talent when they turned 16
  • However, FIFA rules have now banned English clubs from signing under-18s
  • This rule came in following the UK’s exit from the European Union last year
  • Some of the Premier League’s top six members want FIFA’s rules to be eased  

The Premier League’s top clubs want football’s strict post-Brexit rules eased to prevent the game’s top overseas youngsters becoming too expensive to bring to England.

The introduction of a cap allowing clubs to sign two or three elite talents ‘a year’ at 16 is one compromise that has been suggested as an alternative to the current restrictions in place which prevent foreign prospects being signed until they are 18. 

And the issue is understood to have been raised with the Premier League as some of the top six members look for potentially-influential support.

English clubs, including Man City, cannot sign under-18s from abroad under current FIFA rules

The change in regulations for overseas signings came in at the start of last year following the UK’s exit from the EU.

Under FIFA rules English clubs then became banned from signing under-18s having previously benefited from an exemption while in the EU that allowed them to be brought over at 16.

Less than 18 months since the new guidelines came into effect, which have forced clubs to adapt their recruitment approach at youth level, some of the Premier League big guns have united in an effort to see if they can initiate a change that would give them a little more room for manoeuvre in the market.

There is a frustration among them about the top young players and better-value deals they are missing out on to their continental rivals.

No longer able to sign them for cut-price fees at 16, they fear the huge sums they could be forced to fork out for the same players at 18 and beyond who they wanted earlier and when cheaper.

In some cases the valuations could result in those players being financially out of reach by the time English clubs are allowed to sign them.

Hot prospect Rayane Bounida’s move to Ajax is set to go through this summer (Credit: Ajax)

They were unable to try and turn Belgian attacking midfielder Rayane Bounida’s head before the 16 year-old starlet agreed to join Ajax from Anderlecht in a deal that will go through this summer.

Manchester United want to sign Poland under-16 midfielder Karol Borys from Slask Wroclaw. He is viewed as one of the best players of his age in Europe and has already visited United.

However they cannot sign him when he turns 16 in September, leaving the door open for the string of German clubs who also want him to snap up the youngster instead.

The situation has also been a factor in English clubs falling behind in the race for Nigeria youth international Ahmed Abdullahi, rated as the best striker in Africa of his age.

Manchester United could miss out on signing Polish talent Karol Borys (Credit: Instagram)

Manchester City and United have both been aware of the 17 year-old who is wanted across Europe but the likes of Marseille and Borussia Dortmund have been able to steal a march, having taken him on trial last summer.

Clubs hope the prospect of the best talents going elsewhere, potentially being too costly to be brought here later on and that eventually impacting the quality of the Premier League, may help them gain backing from top flight chiefs in their bid to get the FIFA restrictions regarding youth players altered.

When the post-Brexit transfer rules were changed, including the requirement for overseas players to gain a points-based Governing Body Endorsement in order to play here, English football’s authorities pledged to review the impact of the new regulations.

That assessment by the FA, Premier League and EFL has continued though a true picture of the implications has yet to be established due to the effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on club’s finances and, subsequently, the transfer market.

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