FIFA legislation changes from July 1 this year as the governing body try to prevent wealthy superclubs stockpiling talent. Teams will only be able to sign a maximum of eight players in cross-border loan deals each season, with another eight allowed to be loaned out.
Those numbers change to seven in and seven out for 2023/24, and finally become six in and six out from 2024/25 onwards. The new rules do not affect domestic loans between clubs in the same country, and they don’t apply to homegrown players aged 21 and under.
FIFA suggest that the changes are designed to “develop young players, promote competitive balance and prevent hoarding”. The new rules will alter the loan market considerably in Scotland and other countries across the globe.
Hearts, Hibs and other Scottish teams will find themselves more beholden to larger clubs when negotiating loan agreements for signing targets. The loaning club must prioritise who they want to loan out and where to, which may mean some players’ moves are restricted.
If decisions on who goes and who stays are taken later in the summer, Scottish sides will be left waiting longer than normal to learn if they can get the player in question.
The new rules will apply to players over the age of 21 like Taylor Moore and Ben Woodburn, who spent last season loaned to Hearts from Bristol City and Liverpool respectively. Rocky Bushiri, who played on loan at Hibs from Norwich City, would also be affected.
FIFA are seeking to prevent situations where talented players join a major club, spend years being loaned out to smaller sides, and barely get a first-team opportunity with the parent team.
Last year, Brazilian winger Lucas Piazon finally left Chelsea after just three appearances in ten years. He made seven loan moves during that time to Malaga, Vitesse, Eintracht Frankfurt, Reading, Fulham, Chievo and Rio Ave.
Croatian international midfielder Mario Pašalić exited Stamford Bridge in 2020 having spent six years there and not played for the first team. His loans were to Elche, Monaco, AC Milan, Spartak Moscow and Atalanta.