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Loan rangers - the fight to stop big clubs stockpiling talent

AFP  |  Paris 

Batshuayi's move to right at the end of the January window means the Belgian has now played for three different clubs in the last year.

After a successful stint at Borussia Dortmund in the second half of last season, Batshuayi flopped at but now the 25-year-old is aiming to rediscover his form, and maybe do enough to be given a second chance by Chelsea, his parent club.

Batshuayi joined from for 40 million euros in 2016 but is now one of a remarkable 42 players belonging to the club who are currently out on loan.

A glance at the Premier League's official website shows that Batshuayi was one of 10 players to seal loan moves elsewhere in January -- others ranged from joining Atletico Madrid to teenage Croatian moving to non-league Sutton United.

Many of the loan moves out of in recent years have been to Vitesse Arnhem, the Dutch side with whom they have forged curiously close links.

Yet Chelsea are not alone -- in France, now have some 70 players under contract, enough for to play five different teams, substitutes included.

- 'Sold like horses' -

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The desire to stockpile players can in part be explained by leading clubs wanting to hoover up as much of the best available talent as possible, but there is a more cynical side to it.

"As has become a business in which men are sold like horses, the aim is to have the maximum number of players under contract and then tell yourself that one of them is bound to be good and can be sold on," Philippe Piat, the veteran of the world players' union FIFPro, told AFP.

There are myriad examples of players signed by major clubs and then sold on at a profit without ever breaking into the first team.

At Manchester City, Australian was signed from -- part of the City Group -- in 2016, loaned to and then sold to them a year later.

For City, who have long been battling to meet UEFA's Financial Fair Play criteria, their reported profit was USD 8 million. Nevertheless, the example of Chelsea is especially concerning to many observers.

- 'Stay at home and play' -

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"The biggest problem in the is that, when a talented youngster comes through, he is sold abroad and he doesn't play anymore," Ruud Gullit, a former to the Dutch national side, told AFP.

"That is the biggest problem we have. Nathan Ake, for example, spent almost two years on the bench at Chelsea," added Gullit, who was at in the late 1990s.

Ake, now 23, joined the side as a teenager but was loaned out several times before moving to Bournemouth in 2017 for 20 million.

"In the end he was able to play at Bournemouth, but that is 10 percent of his career gone already. As a result, we warn young players that they first of all need to stay at home to play football."

- Change in rules? -

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In the meantime, it seems only a change to the rules will stop rich clubs speculating and stockpiling talent as a means to making more money. "I am campaigning to get to limit squad sizes," says Piat.

"UEFA, for example, limit clubs to 25 players who can play in

"If I were making the rules, I would say you could have 35 players under contract and then you can still loan as many of them out as you want.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Sat, February 09 2019. 10:25 IST
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