What the recent swap and purchase of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang respectively by Arsenal highlighted for me was just how silly football’s red tape can get!
I don’t hold any particular individual responsible, it’s just the epitome of bureaucracy that has brought us to a point where we are denying one of our top clubs the services of guys they have paid more than good money for.
Yes, I fully understand the reason for labelling players as cup-tied, after all it goes back many, many years and, in my playing days, well before the advent of the transfer window, these rules may even have prevented the occasional transfer going through if a player was going to be unable to take part in an ongoing FA Cup campaign, for example.
You don’t want to see any competition being undermined or abused by teams gaining an unfair advantage, of course I get that.
But now we have reached the ludicrous position where the Armenian international, for the sake of a half-hour’s sweat in Bristol, when Manchester United got themselves knocked out of the Carabao Cup, was therefore ineligible to play for his new side in the final at Wembley the other week.
Let’s face it, Arsenal needed all the help they could get on that particular day, when they were a very poor second to a Pep Guardiola team determined to make amends after their shock defeat a few days before at the hands of Wigan Athletic.
So that has cost them, no doubt in my mind.
Even sillier, in my opinion, is the fact that the former Dusseldorf team-mate of his, who joined the Gunners in the same week as him, finds himself unable to play in the Europa League, even though his previous club were playing in the Champions League, an entirely different competition, while he was there, before dropping down, as it were, to become potential opponents.
Now the last thing I’m going to do is attempt to use this platform to try and dissect the ins and outs and whys and wherefores of UEFA Rule 44.2… my solution is far too simple for me to have to get into the weeds of the thing.
No, what I propose is that once you have gone, you have gone: let them play, whatever they have done at their old club and when. I wouldn’t leave it at that, either!
If a player is on loan from another club, I would let that player play against that club, and I suppose as good a recent top-flight example as any would be the case of Timothy Fosu-Mensah, who was unable to take the field against parent club United when they played at Selhurst Park, where he currently turns out every other week for Palace.
I would welcome the change to the rule as much as I’m sure would all players out on loan, and don’t go giving me that rubbish about going easy against their mates, I’m telling you it would work exactly the other way round! These guys would be busting a gut to prove a point to the manager who has let them go or somehow seen them as dispensable for however long it might be.
Until next time you can catch me on the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast every week day on TalkSPORT, 6-10am.