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Page last updated at 06:42 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 07:42 UK

Benitez worried by quota quality

Rafael Benitez
Benitez has brought players to Liverpool from around the world

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez is concerned new quota rules on home-grown players will compromise the quality of the Premier League.

Next season top-flight clubs must name at least eight players in a 25-man squad that are under 21 and have been trained in England or Wales.

"It may now be difficult to maintain quality. The number of players is not the point, the quality is," he said.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger also spoke out saying: "I am against it".

Benitez, whose Liverpool squad has the highest percentage of expatriate players in Europe - with 90% - fears the new domestic quota has been introduced too soon.

"The problem in England is that there is a big gap between the academies and the first team, the reserve league is not filling this gap," warned Benitez.

606: DEBATE

"If a top side has to find eight players from the academy straight away, it may well be difficult.

"Academies do not produce too many in England, home-grown players tend to play in the lower divisions because they may not be good enough for the very top.

"People talk too much about the age of players and where they are from. They forget about quality. The Premier League is the best league in the world because of the quality, not because of where the players come from."

In a recent report, English clubs were shown to employ the highest proportion of expatriate players, with 59.2% coming from abroad.

The Spaniard contrasted the Premier League initiative with Uefa's decision to gradually introduce a quota system for the Champions League over three years.

Liverpool only just manage to meet the current Champions League criteria of eight home-grown players in a 28-man squad but that is something Benitez plans to work on.

"If they have decided this maybe they have been thinking about this rule for a long time," he said.

"Clubs have to bring in the best young players from around the world at a young age to produce the quality and we have been expecting some sort of rule change like this.

Scudamore announces new squad regulations for Premier League clubs

"Now it will be different, and quicker. It all depends on the players. Not the amount, more the quality, but we will continue to do our best."

Representatives from the 20 clubs met last week to discuss the proposals before Premier League chief Richard Scudamore announced their approval on Tuesday.

Scudamore believes the quota scheme will "encourage youth development", giving clubs an "extra incentive to develop players, and to make a better return from their youth investment".

In agreeing to the player quota from the beginning of the 2010-11 season, Premier League clubs have been guided by Uefa's interest in the development of young players.

While Scudamore admits this ruling will not prevent clubs from recruiting young players from abroad, it will work towards reducing squad sizes and allow greater opportunities for young players to advance.

Under the new measures, clubs will be able to boost their squads beyond the 25 limit but only by players under the age of 21.

Since Wenger took the reigns at Arsenal he has nurtured young talent from around the world, including players like current skipper Cesc Fabregas, while also developing home-grown stars like Jack Wilshere.

"I feel that when you want to see the best players in the best league in the world, you have to be open," added Wenger.

"I am not in favour of it, and I said that many times.

"To accept competition - and we live for competition - it is not to accept artificial rules."



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see also
Clubs agree to 'home-grown' quota
15 Sep 09 |  Premier League
Uefa approves new spending plans
15 Sep 09 |  Europe
Uefa warning over clubs' spending
28 Aug 09 |  Europe
English club finances worry Uefa
04 Aug 09 |  Premier League
Top flight backs home-grown quota
12 May 09 |  Premier League
Clubs consider 'home-grown' quota
10 Feb 09 |  Premier League
Clubs vote for 'home-grown' rule
18 Dec 08 |  Football
Ferguson supports Fifa quota plan
06 Nov 07 |  Man Utd
Football factory or money pit?
08 Feb 07 |  Football
Uefa approves foreign quota plan
21 Apr 05 |  Europe


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