Chelsea and other Premier League clubs have reportedly been warned they must drastically cut the number of players they have out on loan, in order to comply with new FIFA regulations which are set to come into effect in the 2020/21 season.
The new regulations, while specifics are yet to be confirmed, are expected to cap the number of players any club is allowed to have loaned out at any one time to between six and eight, according to The Times - well short of the 39 loan players parented by Chelsea.
The new rules are to be implemented with a view to making player loans 'for the purpose of youth development as opposed to commercial exploitation', and is likely to have a significant impact on the way many Premier League clubs do business.
Chelsea, as well as other clubs to a lesser extent, have frequently bought players in the past only to loan them out for multiple seasons before selling them on for a sizeable profit despite limited first team involvement - such as Kevin de Bruyne, Romelu Lukaku and Nathan Ake in recent years.
The new rules are also expected to limit the number of players loaned to any one club to two at a time, restricting partnerships such as the one the Blues currently have in place with Dutch side Vitesse.
While Chelsea are by far and away the worst offenders, Manchester City will also be caught well foul of the rules with 28 players out on loan, while Wolves, Brighton and Everton have 27,18 and 16 respectively.
It's expected that most clubs will have little issue complying, however, as 12 Premier League teams currently have less than 10 players loaned out, so minimal adjustment would be needed in most cases.
For those who would be hit hard by the new restrictions, workarounds are possible – for example, selling players but leaving a mandatory buy-back clause in the deal.