World football chief Gianni Infantino says he wants to make it illegal for clubs such as Chelsea to “hoard” legions of players and farm them out on loan.
The Blues are not the only club to stockpile talent but are the best-known proponents and currently have 38 fringe payers and youngsters out on loans at clubs in England and overseas.
There is no rule against the practice, which has seen proved a money-spinner for Chelsea, but Infantino, the president of governing body Fifa, is in favour of outlawing it by capping squad sizes.
He said: “I believe it is not right but it is permitted. It doesn’t feel right, for a club to just hoard the best young players and then to park them left and right. It’s not good for the development of the player, it’s not good for the club itself. We have to work on squad size limits.”
Only 14 of Chelsea’s 38 players out on loan have ever played for the west London club’s first team.
Yet they are part of an innovative strategy of spotting talent, signing it cheaply, using loans to increase the players’ experience and value and then, in most cases, selling them on at considerable profit.
Manchester City’s Kevin de Bruyne joined Chelsea from Genk for around £7m as a 20-year-old in 2012 and spent a season and a half on loan before being sold on for £18m.
Another 18 months later he returned to England in a £57m transfer that was at that time a record for the top flight.