Manchester United fans have been cruel to the likes of Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley.
Their performances have been ridiculed and much pressure has been put upon these two young lads to either perform or be sold.
Adjectives such as "worthless", "pathetic", and "horrible" have been carelessly thrown around by angry Manchester United fans as they demand reasons for their poor start to the English Premier League campaign.
However, many of these fans are ignorant to the fact the Welbeck and Cleverley are actually more valuable than they may appear. Although they are not superstars on the pitch, they are solid players who hold more value than might be immediately apparent.
Uefa and the FA have both implemented a set of rules to protect the development of young players in Europe and England. Uefa began their 'homegrown players' rule in the 2006/07 season when they required clubs to have at least four homegrown players in a 25-man squad. Today, Uefa requires a minimum of eight homegrown players in a 25-man squad for participation in competitions such as the Champions League.
The FA has similarly implemented their own Homegrown Player Rule, where it states that clubs are not allowed to name more than 17 non homegrown players over the age of 21. Most teams name squads with 25 players, especially the teams near the high end of the table, so that means at least eight players need to be of homegrown status at each club.
So what is a homegrown player? A homegrown player is a player who has trained at the club for at least three years between the ages of 15 and 21. Generally, these players have been developed through the club's academy, but other instances include where a team buys a player at 16 or 17 and develops them from there.
So how does this apply to Welbeck and Cleverly? The reigning champions currently have 12 homegrown players on the roster, more than enough to fulfill the requirements for both the Champions League and the English Premier League.
However, those players include the aging Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs, and Rio Ferdinand. These players will not be around forever, and in one or two years all three of these players might be off the Manchester United squad, and possibly on the Man United staff instead.
Other homegrown players include Ashley Young, who is 28 and in the twilight of his career, and Ben Amos, who has only ever made one appearance for the Red Devils.
So take out these five players, and Manchester United either has to name an undersized squad or will be unable to participate in their respective competitions. This makes Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley all the more important. They both are homegrown players at the club, and as the United team goes through these years of transition David Moyes needs these homegrown players as he tries to re-develop the club to produce top-notch talent at a youth level.
Players like Adnan Januzaj and Alexander Buttner are yet to fulfill the requirements of becoming homegrown, and they will not for another couple of years.
And the price for young talent in the world has skyrocketed recently, as evident with the purchases of Neymar and even Phil Jones. Young stars are being labeled with larger and larger price tags, and Manchester United can not afford to splurge in the market for young talent when they have other issues that need to be fixed with the limited funds they have first.
So this increases the importance of Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck. They are two extra homegrown players on David Moyes' list and they will become all the more vital as players like Ryan Giggs and Rio Ferdinand retire and leave gaps in the homegrown list that will need to be filled.
As they have both played at the top level before they can play in important European matches and come big when the the time is necessary. Danny Welbeck scored in the Round of 16 of the Champions League last season against Real Madrid, and Tom Cleverley produced a solid performance to shut down the likes of Luka Modric and Xabi Alonso, until a red card put the entire United team under heavy pressure.
So United fans need to take all aspects of European and domestic football into account before they begin to call for the selling of two deceptively important players in the United squad.
They will be important for David Moyes and co, as the Red Devils look to go for multiple honors.
These two homegrown stars will be vital for those goals.
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