“It’s the foreigners, stupid.”
That’s invariably the excuse made by coaches and pundits alike when the inquest into yet another failure by an England team in an international competition begins.
Too many foreigners blocking our local lads’ development. Home grown talent robbed of the chance to shine in the local league by a Carlos Kickaball, to use a name coined by former Tottenham chairman Sir Alan Sugar.
This season the Premier League implemented the new 25-man squad rule and stipulated that each club’s squad must contain no more than 17 players who do not fulfill the Home Grown Player criteria. In the post Bosman-ruling era when blocking the entrance of foreign players isn’t so simple, the league said that the aim was to increase opportunities for young players, with the desired knock-on effect of giving England a greater potential pool of talent.
The Italians got in on the act, too. Seemingly as a response to the national team’s World Cup debacle, the Italian Football Federation reduced the number of non-EU players Italian clubs can sign per season from two to just one.
But is that the answer? Is the heavy presence of foreigners in domestic leagues to blame for the shortcomings of the national team? Are countries in which more local stars get a chance to prove themselves in their domestic leagues more likely to have successful national teams?
We at IM Scouting have decided to take a look at the figures.