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UEFA rule change affects Bukayo Saka’s inclusion in Champions League squad

Arsenal have qualified for the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League.

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Arsenal have automatically qualified for the 2023/24 UEFA Champions League after finishing second in the Premier League this season.

While Arsenal did participate in the Europa League last year, they did not win the competition. This meant that Arsenal could only qualify for the Champions League by placing in the top four in Premier League, which they done with many games to spare.

As for every team who will be participating in multiple competitions, there will be deadlines and rules related to squad submission. Arsenal will have to submit a squad for the upcoming Premier League season by the 1st September 2023.

Three days later, Mikel Arteta will have to name his squad for the UEFA Champions league as Arsenal return to the competition for the first time since 2017. A six year wait but the Gunners are now back amongst Europe’s elite.

The rule change related to the Champions League squad will affect one Arsenal player in particular, Bukayo Saka. UEFA have explained that Arsenal have automatically qualified for Champions League along with the likes of Manchester City, PSG, Barcelona, Real Sociedad, and several other teams who have met the criteria for Champions League qualification through league standings.

Rules regarding squad submission for any of the three UEFA competitions – Champions League, Europa League, Europa Conference League – states ‘each club is responsible for submitting to UEFA an A list of players (List A) and a B list of players (List B), duly signed by the club and verified, validated and additionally signed by its association.’

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‘No club may have more than 25 players on List A during the season. As a minimum, eight places are reserved exclusively for “locally trained players” and no club may have more than four “association-trained players” listed in these eight places on List A. List A must specify the players who qualify as being “locally trained”, as well as whether they are “club-trained” or “association-trained”.’

UEFA defines locally-trained or ‘homegrown’ players as those who, regardless of their nationality, have been trained by their club or by another club in the same national association for at least three years between the ages of 15 and 21. Likes of Bukayo Saka, Emile Smith-Rowe, etc. qualify in this category.

The rule related to List B states: ‘Each club is entitled to register an unlimited number of players on List B during the season. The list must be submitted by no later than 24.00 CET on the day before the match in question.

‘A player may be registered on List B if he is born on or after 1 January 2002 and since his 15th birthday has been eligible to play for the club concerned for any uninterrupted period of two years, or a total of three consecutive years with a maximum of one loan period to a club from the same association for a period not longer than one year. Players aged 16 may be registered on List B if they have been registered with the participating club for the previous two years without interruption.’

As mentioned before, Arsenal participated in the Europa League last season. They still had to follow these rules for the Europa League too. The 24-man-squad submitted last season however, had not featured Bukayo Saka or Karl Hein in the List A due to age requirements. They had to be included in List B because the players in List A had to be born before January 2001.

This year however, the rule has changed and the List A requires players born before January 2002, and since Saka is born before that date he is eligible to be in List A. Karl Hein however, will remain on List B because he is born in April 2002, which is later than the date specified.

Arsenal’s final squad list for the competitions they participate in is yet to be revealed. Their business in the summer transfer window will also affect the final list, with the likes of Declan Rice, Moises Caicedo, Ivan Fresneda, etc. rumoured to join the Gunners this summer.

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