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Premier League confirm restrictions on U21, U18 and overseas signings from January

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Clubs in the Premier League will face new restrictions on signing overseas players when the UK leaves the EU on January 1, the top flight confirmed on Tuesday.

From the start of next year, the UK will no longer be a part of the European Union, following the ‘Brexit’ vote that received just 52 percent of support in 2016.

That a result with such a small majority can instigate such a seismic and impactful change is concerning, but that is the reality everyone is forced to come to terms with.

This includes those within the Premier League, with new rules on signings announced on Tuesday, with limits on signings of overseas players under the age of 21 and a ban on signing overseas players under 18 entirely.

From January 1, signings from countries in the EU will now be under the same restrictions as those from other parts of the world, requiring a Governing Body Endorsement (GBE).

A Premier League statement confirmed that a GBE would be granted on a points-based system, with points scored based on:

  • Senior and youth international appearances
  • The quality of the selling club, based on the league they are in, league position and progression in continental competition
  • Club appearances, based on domestic league and continental competition minutes

They add that “players accumulating the requisite amount of points will earn a GBE automatically, while players just below the threshold may be considered for a GBE by an Exceptions Panel.”

Furthermore, in the interest of “ensuring opportunities for homegrown players,” a limit of overseas under-21 signings will be enforced, with a maximum of three in the upcoming January window and a total of six per season from 2021/22.

KIRKBY, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 26, 2020: Liverpool's Melkamu Frauendof during the Under-18 Premier League match between Liverpool FC Under-18's and Manchester City FC Under-18's at the Liverpool Academy. Manchester City won 3-1. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

No longer will clubs be permitted to sign overseas players under the age of 18, which is likely why Liverpool moved to bring in Marcelo Pitaluga, Melkamu Fraeundorf, Mateusz Musialowski and Fabian Mrozek last summer.

These measures will be reviewed in full next summer, with the Home Office having approved the new GBE proposal from January 1; the restrictions also apply to clubs in the EFL.

While in ways these can be seen as restrictions, perhaps in others it will open up the prospect of an easier pathway to top Premier League clubs for players previously unable to be granted a work permit immediately.

Jurgen Klopp has expressed in the past how Liverpool would have been unable to sign the talents they were interested in within the Salzburg ranks, such as Takumi Minamino, despite possibly having tracked him from his time at Cerezo Osaka.

Either way, it is a new format that the club will need to get used to, and it could have major ramifications on the players signed and not signed in the years to come.

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