China News Service, Beijing, February 7th (Liu Xingchen) On the 7th, the 2023 Professional League Club Heads Meeting and the Chinese Super League, China A, and China B Club Heads Summit were held at the Xianghe National Team Base.

Many media reported that the meeting announced that in the 2023 season, the Chinese Super League will cancel the requirement for the presence of U23 players.

After this reform, at least 5 U21 players who have been registered with the club for more than 4 years are required to register for the first team of the Chinese Super League.

  So far, the Chinese Super League U23 policy that has been in operation for 6 years has withdrawn from the stage of history.

Image source: Screenshot of netizens’ comments

  "At the age of 23, there is really no training value in the field of football."

This is the sentence that fans commented the most after the cancellation of the U23 policy.

In fact, this is what the outside world believes is the crux of the policy.

  At the current time point, many people ask: What has the U23 policy brought to Chinese football in the past 6 years?

How far is it from the original intention of the policy?

Launched amid controversy

  In the 2017 season, the Chinese Football Association and the management department of the professional league officially launched the "New Deal for U23 Players" in light of the scarcity of excellent domestic players in clubs at all levels and the insufficient supply of talents for professional leagues and national teams. There must be no less than 1 U23 player.

  "Give young players more opportunities to play", this is undoubtedly the biggest original intention of the Chinese Football Association to implement the U23 policy.

  But different voices soon emerged: Are the young people trained under the U23 policy still young?

In addition, as the concepts of "training newcomers" and "achievements first" go against each other to some extent, the practices of some clubs have gradually deviated from the normal track, which is the so-called "policy at the top and countermeasures at the bottom".

Data map: Former U23 player Wei Shihao in the game.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Chen Jimin

  The U23 player made his debut and was hastily replaced after a few minutes.

Such scenes were not uncommon at the beginning of the implementation of the U23 policy.

  Based on the data of the 2017 season, it can be seen that the appearance of many U23 players is quite "going through the motions".

  In order to solve this chaos, the Chinese Football Association has adjusted the U23 policy.

At least 2 U23 domestic players shall enter the list, and one of them shall be the starting player; from the 2018 season onwards, when the Chinese Super League and Chinese League One clubs participate in the Chinese Super League, Chinese League One, and Chinese Football Association Cup, the cumulative number of games played by each club in the entire game U23 domestic players (except Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) must have the same number of foreign players who have played in the entire game.

  But the problems didn't stop there.

In the 2019 Chinese Super League, Henan Jianye U23 player Yang Guoyuan made two appearances and was replaced at 2 minutes 12 seconds and 1 minute 30 seconds respectively...

  What followed was a sharp rise in the value and income of U23 players.

Under such circumstances, the idea of ​​young players studying abroad has been shelved, and the club's operating costs are also increasing.

Limited help to national teams

  The introduction of the U23 policy is largely to provide more possibilities for the national team to select talents.

  Today, looking back at the national team lineups in the past few years, this policy has not achieved the desired effect.

  During the World Cup preliminaries last year, the average age of the national football lineup was 29.56 years old, and there were 16 players in their thirties, and it was difficult to find U23 players.

Data map: The picture shows the Chinese U23 lineup.

Image source: Osports All Sports Photo Agency

  In other words, the introduction of the U23 policy is intended to help the national team complete the transition from old to new.

In fact, as early as 2021, the average age of players in the national football training list was close to 30 years old.

Four years after the implementation of the U23 policy, the average age of the national football team has risen instead of falling.

  In the list of 20 candidates for the best U23 young players in Asia announced by the AFC at that time, no Chinese players were shortlisted.

The National Youth, National Junior and National Olympic teams are hard to win in the world arena...

  Competitive sports develop according to the law, and it is not realistic to cultivate talents in a short period of time.

When young people who are not strong enough are "ducked into the shelves" due to the U23 policy, the effect achieved can be imagined.

The U23 policy is cancelled, then what?

  It is undeniable that the U23 policy has indeed promoted the growth of some young players.

  From 2017 to 2023, players including Zhang Yuning, Wei Shihao, Guo Tianyu and others have made remarkable progress and played an important role in the team.

Data map: Beijing Zhonghe Guoan player Zhang Yuning (left) shoots during the game.

Photo by China News Agency reporter Tomita

  With the end of the "Golden Dollar Football Era", the use of young players by various clubs has also undergone fundamental changes, from passive to active.

  With the club's financial pressure high and foreign aid unable to return in time, young players have become the team's more important training targets.

Among veteran teams such as Beijing Guoan and Shanghai Seaport, there are many U21 players who have performed well.

  To a certain extent, this also highlights that the existence of the U23 policy has no practical significance.

In the voices of the outside world, the abolition of the U23 policy this time is what everyone expects.

  But the problem also followed, the U23 policy was cancelled, and then?

Data map: The picture shows the Chinese U23 lineup.

Image source: Osports All Sports Photo Agency

  In this reform, the goal of the new season is placed on U21 players, which is undoubtedly a good signal.

But in this group of players, most of them are not outstanding at present, and the training cost can be expected.

  In the power circle of Asian football, the national football team, which has not yet completed the transition from old to new, has not yet been able to occupy a place.

If you want to achieve this goal, it will not be accomplished overnight, and the efforts of the league alone will not be enough to change the status quo.

  Efforts to promote the youth football training system and allow more young people to devote themselves to the football career are still a difficult problem facing Chinese football.

  But at least for now, we have set our sights on younger players.