Explained: Liverpool’s homegrown squad issue – and how 3 transfers ‘solve’ it

Liverpool are expected to sign three more players in the summer transfer window, but a Premier League squad rule is limiting who they can bring in.

Following the arrival of Alexis Mac Allister from Brighton, there are still likely to be major incomings at Anfield this summer.

Two more midfielders and a left-sided centre-back will be the priority for Jurgen Klopp and his staff, following the departures of four senior players.

But homegrown rules in the Premier League could prevent Liverpool from signing certain players – unless others are moved on.

To qualify as homegrown, a player must have been registered to an English or Welsh club for a period of three seasons (or years) before his 21st birthday, with a maximum of 17 non-homegrown players permitted in the Premier League.

A maximum of 25 players over the age of 21 can be named in any club’s squad for the Premier League, with a maximum of 17 non-homegrown players.

As pointed out by Opta’s Michael Reid, Liverpool currently only have two non-homegrown slots remaining despite both Roberto Firmino and Naby Keita leaving.

That restricts the ability to sign certain players, including widely reported targets Khephren Thuram, Manu Kone and Micky van de Ven, who are all 22.

Clubs can register an unlimited number of under-21 players beyond the 25-man squad limit. For 2023/24, under-21 players will have been born on or after January 1, 2002.

It has been suggested that Liverpool should bring in both Thuram and Kone as part of the midfield rebuild, but doing so – at present – would require the third signing to be homegrown or qualify as under-21.

That explains the pursuit of Mason Mount, who would be eligible as homegrown, but the decision to pull out of the running has changed things.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - Sunday, March 12, 2023: Southampton's Roméo Lavia during the FA Premier League match between Manchester United and Southampton FC at Old Trafford. The game ended in a goal-less draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There are other options, however, in Ryan Gravenberch and Gabri Veiga, both 21 and born in 2002, along with 19-year-old Romeo Lavia.

If Liverpool were to sign any other those midfield targets, they would not be required to be registered as part of the 25-man Premier League squad next season.

Lavia, who according to reports has been subject of an enquiry this week, would solve a longer-term issue as he would eventually qualify as homegrown.

In terms of centre-backs, Levi Colwill and Jarrad Branthwaite (both 20) would qualify as under-21 and become homegrown, while Marc Guehi (22) would take a homegrown slot.

Filling those homegrown slots may become more important as the months go on, purely in terms of numbers, as Nat Phillips, Sepp van den Berg, Rhys Williams and even Caoimhin Kelleher may all move on.

2PNWX9G Nice, France. 20th Apr, 2023. Khephren Thuram of Nice during the UEFA Europa Conference League, Quarter-finals, 2nd leg football match between OGC Nice (OGCN) and FC Basel 1893 on April 20, 2023 at Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice, France - Photo Jean Catuffe/DPPI Credit: DPPI Media/Alamy Live News

Another solution would, of course, be more of the existing non-homegrown players being sold this summer – though as it stands, that seems unlikely.

If, say, Joel Matip or Thiago are moved on, however, Liverpool could in theory have room to sign Thuram, Kone and Van de Ven.

Many will point to the decision to hand third-choice goalkeeper Adrian a new contract as a mistake given he takes up a non-homegrown slot.

That may be true, given the logistics Klopp is juggling as a result – but as the likes of Lavia, Gravenberch and Veiga show, there are ways around it.