Loan moves could help improve A-League’s youth development

Athos Sirianos Roar Guru

By Athos Sirianos, Athos Sirianos is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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25 Have your say

    Beneath the harsh criticism and ardour expressed by football fans lies a sense of pride and optimism in seeing a future prospect break into the first team.

    Since the disbandment of the NSL, Australia’s youth development has been scrutinised for its inability to produce players who possess the quality to make it in Europe like many before them.

    To say there aren’t talented youth out there would be naive. The attention should instead be shifted towards bridging the significant gap between football at a grassroots and professional level.

    Expansion will contribute to harnessing youth, though for some it may be too late, which is why until that occurs an effective system must be implemented.

    A lack of funds has stunted the potential and legitimacy of the National Youth League. Having youth compete in their state NPL may benefit endurance and physicality but the significant gap in professionalism restricts players from achieving their potential.

    A possibility currently circulating is allowing A-League clubs to loan players, ideally providing youth on the periphery greater opportunities to develop elsewhere before returning.

    If you need convincing then look no further than what a spell on loan did for Aaron Mooy.

    The Championship and the A-League may be chalk and cheese but like England’s lower leagues, granting youth opportunities at a professional level is something the A-League can achieve through a loan system.

    The vast international fixtures during the launch of the season have become a blessing in disguise, providing opportunities for a range of starlets such as Jacob Italiano (Perth Glory), Nathan Atkinson (Melbourne City) and Christian Theoharous (Melbourne Victory), who are all met with the ‘he’s one of our own’ chant when they come on the field.

    These players have taken a significant step in their football careers this season, providing a unique aspect to the on-field dynamic of their respective clubs.

    In addition, allowing youth to be loaned out domestically will provide an alternative to moving overseas, perhaps before they’re ready.

    There has been much debate over what is best for the development of Australian youth when big European clubs come knocking. It would be difficult to refuse an offer from a club the size of Liverpool or Ajax, however every player’s career path is different. There is no set way for these players to make it.

    Sebastian Pasquali’s departure to Ajax is one which raised a few eyebrows. The then 16-year-old had broken into the team at Melbourne Victory before swiftly joining the Ajax academy. He now plays most his minutes in the Under-19s.

    While staying at Victory would have guaranteed Pasquali a greater chance of first team football, this is not to say he made the wrong decision.

    Josh Brilliante

    (AAP Image/David Moir)

    Josh Brillante and Danny De Silva were also in this bracket and were forced to return to Australia. But they have reinvigorated their careers, immersing themselves in a new football culture where they would have gained a greater understanding of what it takes to make it in Europe.

    Returning to the A-League following a stint in Europe should not be looked down upon. Brillante, De Silva and even Thomas Deng have shown how returning and establishing themselves as pivotal players in their squads has bolstered their ambitions for a European return.

    Although, as mentioned earlier, every player’s career path differs from the next, amplifying the significance of a loan system.

    Unfortunately, when it comes to youth development there is a conflict of interest among the FFA. Youth development is a top priority for the FFA and while fresh faces will buoy existing fans, it will do nothing towards enticing new fans who would rather see established stars.

    Currently, each A-League club may be granted up to nine international players on their list – consisting of the five visa spots as well as a guest marquee, injury replacements, Australian or New Zealand citizens who have chosen to represent another national team and players who have gained Australian or New Zealand citizenship.

    While it is very rare a club would tick all these boxes, it does not leave a lot of wiggle room for youth to come through. Funnily enough Perth Glory are the only club to have granted visas to five players this season and have simultaneously blooded the most youth.

    Is it then worth reducing the amount of visa spots to four? Or even re-surfacing the proposed idea of a 3+1 concept where the extra player counts as an Asian marquee?

    The future of prosperous youth in Australia is a delicate issue and is one where there is no set-in-stone way of addressing. But what the FFA can do is help improve it by providing alternatives, such as the option of a loan, to help players fulfil their potential.

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    The Crowd Says (25)

    • January 4th 2018 @ 6:15am
      Kangajets said | January 4th 2018 @ 6:15am | ! Report

      While I agree with the need for youth to gain experience, I believe each A league has an npl team .
      Do current a league squads have enough players to loan out to onerseas clubs ? Or are you talking underage players .

      Also through necessity this season clubs like Perth Brisbane and Newcastle have blooded lots on young players . Ryan strain at Adelaide and Nathalan Atkinson at city have broken through .

      Newcastle squad of 16 to take on Sydney had 9-10 players under the age of 23

    • January 4th 2018 @ 7:13am
      Waz said | January 4th 2018 @ 7:13am | ! Report

      I agree with the main point of the article, the A League does need a loan system, but struggle a bit with the arguments presented in support of that point.

      I’d keep this simple – A league clubs should be able to loan any player to any club. To avoid the situations we see in Europe where clubs have more players on loan than at the club a maximum loan cap can be set up.

      A better idea to help youth though is to allow clubs to add +2 youth players to the bench, so have a normal bench plus two kids that are free to come in at the coaches discretion. This will increase the minutes played significantly.

      And any discussion on creating more opportunities for youth must include expansion of the HAL plus a national second division.

      • January 4th 2018 @ 11:58am
        Kangajets said | January 4th 2018 @ 11:58am | ! Report


        Good to see we agree on something.

      • January 4th 2018 @ 1:56pm
        Kangajets said | January 4th 2018 @ 1:56pm | ! Report


        Good to see we can agree on something

    • January 4th 2018 @ 8:54am
      Nemesis said | January 4th 2018 @ 8:54am | ! Report

      I know a loan system is being discussed by PFA, FFA & Clubs, but can someone clearly explain:

      1) to whom will the loan players be sent?
      2) why will the club that takes the loan player be any more likely to give significant match time to young players when few clubs do it right now with their own youth players?

      Pasquali is mentioned. He was already being given match time at MV when he decided to leave. Deng was in the 1st team squad regularly when he decided to leave. Same with Yeboah, McGree, Mauk, etc. etc.

      Rather than a loan system I want competition rules that clearly specify youth players must be part of match day squads and/or on the park.

    • Roar Guru

      January 4th 2018 @ 9:25am
      Rick Disnick said | January 4th 2018 @ 9:25am | ! Report

      I agree with Waz. The premise of the article is solid, but the supporting arguments allowing it to come to fruition are not.

      At least you haven’t written one page on youth development using a points system that promotes international youth, rather than local, whilst discriminating against the aged.

      • Roar Rookie

        January 4th 2018 @ 11:37am
        At work said | January 4th 2018 @ 11:37am | ! Report

        Get over it Rick

        • Roar Guru

          January 4th 2018 @ 11:54am
          Rick Disnick said | January 4th 2018 @ 11:54am | ! Report

          Get over what?

          I’m simply saying this isn’t a rubbish article (like a few this week) that would never fly within Australia. Perhaps in Bulgaria some of these might, but I’m not sure of their laws.

          This article just lacks any real conviction with its arguments.

          • Roar Rookie

            January 4th 2018 @ 2:25pm
            At work said | January 4th 2018 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

            The shot at a particular poster who published an article yesterday, which you’re trying to bait.

            Maybe it is you who benefits from the amount of comments on a football article, as whenever you get involved it adds at least an additional 25% comments.

            • Roar Guru

              January 4th 2018 @ 2:34pm
              Rick Disnick said | January 4th 2018 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

              It doesn’t benefit me at all. It benefits the author and the Roar.

              Do you ever stop to think why someone like me ‘gets’ away with so much on this site?

              • Roar Rookie

                January 4th 2018 @ 2:40pm
                At work said | January 4th 2018 @ 2:40pm | ! Report

                Because you’re mates with the editors… Not really but I don’t really care either way.

                Often you have valuable and interesting input, but it seems mostly you’re here to bait and argue with certain other regular contributors, even if your comments aren’t outlandish..

                For people like me who don’t post too often but mainly read the articles and scroll through the comments from other football fans, wadding through the crap to read genuine comments is quite frustrating.

              • Roar Guru

                January 4th 2018 @ 2:46pm
                Rick Disnick said | January 4th 2018 @ 2:46pm | ! Report

                Well you let me know when I don’t make a valid point.

                I was just complimenting the author on not writing a b0neheaded article, that’s all.

    • January 4th 2018 @ 10:15am
      Worried said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:15am | ! Report

      EPL Teams run a Senior Squad, Under 23’s and Under 18’s.
      They also have Transfer fees and Loan deals.
      ALL things our non-football people at FFA consider unnecessary in Australian Football.

      • January 4th 2018 @ 3:47pm
        Nemesis said | January 4th 2018 @ 3:47pm | ! Report

        Melbourne Victory has:

        – ALeague team
        – WLeague team
        – NYL team
        – NPL senior team, who must all be u20
        – NPL u20 team, who must all be u17

    • January 4th 2018 @ 10:39am
      GavanD said | January 4th 2018 @ 10:39am | ! Report

      1 – take inspiration from the US re-brand the NYL teams as Second teams so that it basically becomes the National Second League
      2 – expand the NSL like there is no tomorrow as well as p/r with the NPL
      3 – introduce a rule in the NSL to max 3 of over age (23+) players

      • January 4th 2018 @ 11:50am
        RBBAnonymous said | January 4th 2018 @ 11:50am | ! Report

        There is no NSL. Its a defunct comp which ended in 2003.

        • January 4th 2018 @ 5:34pm
          New grobelaar said | January 4th 2018 @ 5:34pm | ! Report


          Thanks buddy . I think he means npl

          How do you see the wsw v roar game tonight ? Has a fair bit riding on it ?

          • January 4th 2018 @ 5:48pm
            Waz said | January 4th 2018 @ 5:48pm | ! Report

            Friday night.

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