Wenger: Time to cap pay of young players


Arsene Wenger believes the FA and the Premier League must tackle wage inflation in youth academies to ensure players maintain the hunger to succeed at the highest level.

While England have enjoyed unprecedented success in the last 18 months with their Under-20 and Under-17 teams winning the World Cup and Under-19 squad victorious at the European Championship, the boss believes that young players at top clubs are at risk of developing bad habits having been paid so well from such a young age.

Speaking to Michael Calvin in the soon-to-be-released BT Sport documentary No Hunger in Paradise, Wenger explained: “If we had a system where the players earn the same up until the age of 17, when they turn professional, then they would choose clubs only for sportive reasons.

“The financial factor is a huge influence on where a player goes and that’s where the system is very poor. When things come too early, it can create bad habits, the feeling you are already there, and you don’t have the desire needed to make that big career.”

Arsenal are as guilty as anyone of using cash to persuade the world’s best players to join our academy. It’s just that in recent years our financial advantage has been weathered by the huge influx of cash from other clubs, including Manchester City and Chelsea.

In the same documentary, Wenger also explains that English clubs do well at fostering talent but then fail their youngsters when it comes to integrating them into the first team.

“There is huge English natural talent out there and the best way to prove that and to check that is if you look at the results of the young boys in England youth teams at international level.

“They start to win competitions, they start to exist in every big competition with the youth level. That means the talent is there. Now we go into process number three, the integration.

“I would say today, many, many, many clubs do well part one and part two – quality of education – there’s a lot work that has been done in England. We all fail in part three, integration into the first team.

“Nobody has found a miraculous solution because the Premier League has become so demanding that the gap between youth and reserve level and the Premier League is so big that all the managers sit there and sweat on the Friday night and finally think – let’s be conservative, we’ll see next week.”

No Hunger in Paradise, based on a book by journalist Michael Calvin, reveals that only half of one per cent of boys who enter academies at the age of nine go on to make a living from the game. That’s a staggering statistic.

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37 Comments on "Wenger: Time to cap pay of young players"

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Up until the age of 17? Whats the difference? 12 months?

We’ve just handed that Eddie Nketiah who scored those two goals in the League Cup like a £15,000 a week pay rise and I swear he isn’t too far over the age of 18.

I think the salaries in football definitely need to be looked at, at youth level up until these players are at least 20.


I think he suggested until 17 because you are only classed as an adult legally at the age of 18. It makes sense too. Below the age of 18 you are still controlled and heavily influenced by your parents or guardians.

John C

No, it’s because players can’t legally become professional until they’re 17 before that they’re apprentices.


Well we have a player aged 22 who finds it difficult to live without parents who left for Barcelona and his performance has being underwhelming since he had a new bumper contract !!

Gutbukket Deffrolla

Being a footballer of 18 or older is a job, just like any other job. Employment Laws exist to protect adult employees. Clubs are not allowed to break those laws. You can’t deliberately underpay an employee for the good of your own company, or even for the long-term benefit of your industry.


Say what you want about the man but he’s not known as Le Prof for nothing.

I’d pay ruddy good money for any book he put out.


Problem is clubs will just start drawing up contracts with higher wage incentives that start when they are of age so nothing will change

Heavenly Chapecoense

In some american sports, the worst teams draw the best youth prospects. The kid then needs to prove himself to earn a big contract with the top clubs.


most American sports have a draft system and salary cap in place (professional ones at least).


Yes because a system that rewards horrible teams with the best prospects works so well. Where young adults aren’t allowed the choice of which team they want to play for as a professional.

Andy Mack

So the rule needs to be that contracts can’t refer to future salary, although there would be the verbal agreements but they’d wouldn’t be worth the paper they’re written on.


Some might say it will have the opposite effect.. No more free market means your efforts will not be rewarded instantly with wage increases which might actually reduce players’ eagerness to perform..


Then they can get lost if they don’t love playing football.

Andy Mack

They aren’t rewarded so much for their actual efforts, as for their potential.
There’s such a big leap from youth level to senior level game in quality that their youth efforts aren’t comparable.

Lord Bendnter

If there’s a man who should run the FA after retiring, it’s gotta be Wenger


They would never allow a man with integrity into such an organisation. It is like the Democrats allowing Bernie Sanders a fair shot in the USA political process.




Very disappointed a bad analogy to American politics get this many thumps up. God damn Bernie Bros.

Lord Bendnter

It’s like pretty much any decent human being trying to get into Trump’s cabinet/team.

*There u go, Fixed.


there should be a cap at all levels IMO


In football terms you’re right; in employment terms, not a chance in hell, unfortunately. Every occupation would have to agree to the same cap. I can’t see bankers going for it.


Agreed. More like how NBA is set up. Have a salary cap for the premier league.

Gutbukket Deffrolla

If the PL had a salary cap every decent player in Europe would shun the PL. Boom! Pl screwed. Salary caps work in the US because relatively few sports persons outside the US are looking to join US teams in the salary-capped sports. They are virtually closed systems.


Could mean that english players get more chances and foreigners who come aremt greedy for money


It only works in the NBA because there are no other leagues to competing for talent.

Why is it that owners in the NBA need a salary cap from spending money on players? Why can’t they control themselves and work within their own budgets? Most of them do it with whatever business got them their fortunes in the first place but for some reason they need a cap to keep themselves from spending more then they should?


Why? how does that help the sport?


Also staggering how many young players don’t look for playing time abroad. I know club do help youth players to get through their academic qualifications but if they were given rudimentary Spanish, German, French, etc. there would be more places to go on loan or to find first team football for the 99%.

Gutbukket Deffrolla

Have you seen how English schoolchildren react to foreign language lessons?


They should have a model like Major League Baseball in the US has and now the NFL has setup limiting the salary potential of young players for their first few years. Transfer fees and salaries are going crazy in football and people are being paid for and bought more for potential than what they’ve done. It’s one thing to throw away millions in a one time transfer fee on potential, but to be strapped with that salary for years when a young player doesn’t pan out is a problem.


The one problem with that though, especially with foreign prospects is they get shafted. You saw recently the GM who was banned for paying Latin American prospects on the side. These Dominican and Cuban players are put through the grinder. They’re desperate to make it, many turn to steroids, and they still don’t get as much as American prospects. It’s a sham, one to keep owners rich and suppress the market for foreign prospects. On it’s face it’s a positive step, in practice it’s a tool to treat the players like cattle.

A Different George

I think you are confusing American sports leagues and the differing regimes. The NFL has a hard TEAM salary cap–so, a young prospect (or anyone else) can be paid a lot, but that means other top players will have to leave. It’s also impossible to understand the NFL system without considering the role of college and university sports. Eighteen year old football players (gridiron football) almost always play in college for three to five years; they are “amateurs,” and cannot be paid salaries–but they are effectively playing in a development league. No such system is possible anywhere in Europe.


All sports leagues in the US should be free market. IMO They should also stop using the draft.

Now to the MLB model. One way to eliminate giving young players bad contracts would be how Europe has academies and they can train and educate them at a young age. That would mean the MLB would probably have to open up to a possible Pro/Reg system which that won’t ever happen but that would be cool lol

Why is it fair to restrict what a young adult can make? It ins’t their fault that a team would give them a huge contract on potential. You are penalizing prospects earning potential because MLB team can’t control themselves. Instead they enact rules to artificially restrict earning potential for players?

Same goes with the NFL. The way they use High School and College for free player development is a joke. NFL should develop their own talents like European clubs do and possibly move to a Pro/Reg. Eliminate all this ridiculous college football and now high school money making machines. I don’t feel comfortable seeing everyone involved with the sport making money while the players are capped with a “free education”. Lets say a team like the Raiders would have their Senior team along with a U23(college level), U18(high school team) and maybe U15. They

Besides MLB and NFL are lucky that they are the only league and their is no competition for talent.


Another factor worth considering is that financial incentive can hamper performance, there’s evidence to back this up, but what it boils down to is intrinsic motivation trumps extrinsic motivation, call it love for the game rather than for the reward. When you introduce a reward performance of complicated tasks decline. Financial incentive works when say it’s a very simple task, like packing boxes with books, offer someone a financial incentive to pack the most amount of books in any given time, they will indeed pack more books, but offer someone an incentive to say complete a sudoko puzzle rapidly and they perform worse than when offered no incentive. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc

I wonder if the nature of the British sporting culture (where winning trumps play all the way down, smaller players are easily bullied off the ball at youth level, you’d wonder if someone like Santi Carzola would have made it as a professional footballer if he’d been born English), coupled with high financial incentives for youth doesn’t help make the British international teams what they are, full of willing runners and grafters, but very few players you’d consider intelligent in a footballing sense?


How do you explain cristiano he esrns alot and achieves


I’d rather see us save money by not paying players who clearly aren’t going to make it 140k a week and giving them 12 years to prove they are good enough. For some players the Arsenal must seem like the Make A Wish foundation.

Laughing Stock



This is just management arguing that workers should take a pay cut. The players, at all ages, are payed so much because there is so much money in sports. Because elite teams have become toys for billionaires and the fans also continue to hand over large sums of their own, this shall continue. And the players themselves actually deserve a larger slice of that money, they are the reason any of us watch! Most youth players will never make it, even the supremely talented ones, because there are so many factors that go into succeeding in top level athletics. Any player should be able to sign a potentially life changing contract at the first opportunity. £5,000 pounds a week is £240,000+ a year, if your family is poor that can change the whole family’s situation. What should really be done is that some percentage of player salaries, up to 20-21 years old, be put into a trust so that they have something around after the end of their careers.