Del Piero explains why De Ligt has struggled for Juventus
Alessandro Del Piero attributes Matthijs de Ligt’s slow start with Juve to Serie A’s different style.
The other obvious upshot here is that younger players would become more valuable and clubs would be incentivised to develop them and keep them around since they don’t count against the cap. Clubs who develop players would be rewarded in the long term.
You would obviously need some sort of mechanism to “cut” the player because if he signs a contract, he’s entitled to his rights. So maybe you work out a deal where anybody can get cut in exchange for a full year’s wages. You become a free agent and you get a year’s salary. It’s not a bad deal for a player and because you’re a free agent, you suddenly become more affordable for other clubs since there’s no transfer fee to pay and they don’t have to match the big wages you were previously earning.
Would clubs go for it? Those who enjoy hoarding players would obviously be penalized and their managers would of course grumble about lack of options. But the reality is that everybody would be in the same boat and you wouldn’t need to keep paying for dead weight on your wage bill. Sure, you’d need to be smarter when it comes to squad planning but costs would come down — not just in terms of wages, but also in terms of transfer fees.
You would obviously need to find the right mechanisms in order to make such a plan work, too. Maybe 19 is too lax as an age; maybe we need to go down to 17 or even 16. Maybe it’s not a year’s salary to cut players, maybe six months is enough. Maybe exempt the U-21s or U-23s instead of U-22s. You’d also need greater transparency and oversight to prevent clubs (and, these days, superagents) from “parking” players at “friendly” smaller clubs. You’d need a better-regulated loan system for players over the age of 22, like maybe limiting them to one per season. You’d then want to figure out some sort of medical exemption for players who suffer a long-term injury and, of course, you’d need a long transition period before you whittle things down to 19 senior pros.
But it’s doable and it’s desirable. Because the fact of the matter is that the 20th most important senior player at Manchester City (John Stones?), or Tottenham (Eric Dier?), or Paris Saint-Germain (Edinson Cavani?) may well move the needle the next tier down. Or, alternatively we just sit and do nothing, waiting for the Overton window to further shift to the point where we think what is going on today across Europe is entirely normal. But trust me: that will get really, really boring in the long run and leaves us screaming out for that closed Super League which nobody says they want.