Perhaps no team is in greater danger of facing the wrath of Sepp Blatter’s proposed "6+5 rule" (whereby six players in every starting 11 would have to be qualified to represent the nation in which they play) than Admiral Benitez’s Spanish Armada.
Since Benitez’s arrival at Anfield, the Reds’ squad has gotten progressively more Spanish each year, with the potential for perhaps its biggest additions yet during this summer’s fire sale in Valencia.
With the Spanish club reportedly $100 million in debt, their only real chance of securing financial stability is the sale of their two most prized assets, David Silva and David Villa. The only problem is that if Blatter gets his way, the likelihood of Liverpool buying either of Valencia’s hot commodities is almost non-existent.
At first glance, Blatter’s proposed policy has a tremendous amount of upside. It ensures that homegrown talent, for the most part, remains just that; and it allows greater opportunity for domestic players to gain exposure and first team minutes on their native soil.
The only problem is that we all know that’s not what’s going to happen. If anything, Blatter’s policy will only fuel the overpaying of domestic stars which will subsequently imbalance the transfer market.
While traveling in Mexico I once asked a local manager why so few of "El Tri’s" stars play overseas. He responded by informing me that Mexican club teams spoil homegrown talent by grossly overpaying them to play domestically. If Sep Blatter gets his way, he will force EPL squads to do this.
As of now, England’s superstars are scattered widely across the EPL. Seventeen of the current 26 National team players are on squads outside of the Big Four plus Manchester City. If Blatter’s policy was enacted, that would all change.
The demand for established English stars would be so high that any serviceable Brit would become the subject of a bidding war between the five squads mentioned above.
The result would be a few teams stacked with top-tier English talent and the rest of the league forced to fight for the scraps.
I know what you’re thinking… isn’t that how it is already? The answer is yes, but imagine if Big Four dominance was ten times worse than it is already?
By far my biggest qualm with Blatter is that his policy is aimed directly at English club teams during a period of revival and dominance in international competition. This issue was never raised during the Real Madrid "Galacticos" period, and I doubt it would be raised now if teams from Spain or Italy were dominating the Champions League.
As football fans we can’t help but face the fact that globalization is real and we need to embrace it. Every year the world becomes a little bit smaller as technological leaps and bounds bring us closer together.
As far as I’m concerned, Blatter’s proposed policy is a step backwards to an age that is wholly unrealistic to strive for in modern times. Club teams are no longer the sense of national pride that they used to be; now they are more like principalities whose power is entirely based on how many mercenaries they can buy, foreign or domestic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
One needs only to look across the pond at a team called the New York Yankees to see living proof that success can’t always be bought. The tides of football will change, but not as the result of mandatory nationalistic segregation.
They will change because by the laws of probability a team that on paper has no business winning the Champions League will one day win the Champions League. And that, my friends, is what being a football fan is all about. The beautiful game will find a way.
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