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With Cristiano Ronaldo now a free agent following the decision to mutually terminate his Manchester United contract, people will naturally be wondering what the rules are around other English clubs potentially signing him before the January transfer window.
A few English clubs, as well as several organisations overseas, have been subsequently linked with the Portuguese superstar’s signature, Arsenal surprisingly being one of them.
But can the Gunners even register the 37-year-old before the winter market officially opens? The answer is yes, though there are a few rules that need explaining first. With that in mind, football.london has taken a look at why Ronaldo can sign for Arsenal before the January transfer window below.
Rules around registration
At the beginning of the season, every Premier League club was required to submit a 25-man squad. Under current rules, no more than 17 players in a squad can be non-homegrown, but those players can be of any nationality or age. The remaining members of the first-team squad have to be homegrown.
However, the 25-man squad can be supplemented by an unlimited number of under-21s – it doesn’t matter if they’re a regular part of the club’s senior squad or their nationality. For example, in Arsenal’s case, the likes of Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, William Saliba and Marquinhos have all been named as under-21s this season.
On the other hand, a player cannot represent more than two Premier League clubs in one season. Having only represented Manchester United thus far, Ronaldo‘s eligible to play for another club this campaign.
Now that he’s a free agent, his situation is different to the norm because he doesn’t necessarily have to make a move in the transfer window. Instead, as long as a side can register him as a non-homegrown player and add him to their squad list, he will be able to make a permanent switch to a new team almost immediately.
Although there’s plenty of other suitors around, the Gunners have been mooted as a potential destination – even though it does seem unlikely.
Taking the rules into account, Arsenal can hypothetically register Ronaldo before the January window because they only have 14 non-homegrown players on their books. In addition, they also have four spaces free to register new players in their 25-man squad, having only named 21 earlier on this year.
Can Ronaldo immediately play?
Even though he can technically be registered before January, he won’t be able to play for two domestic games. That’s because Ronaldo has been fined £50,000 and handed a two-game suspension by the FA for knocking a fan’s mobile phone to the ground against Everton last April. He was charged with ‘improper and/or violent’ conduct.