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Platini wants to stop top teams signing best players or 'competition itself is finished'

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ZURICH — UEFA President Michel Platini wants to stop top teams stockpiling the best players to ensure football remains competitive.

The European football chief wants to force clubs to use more homegrown players. Eight are currently required in 25-man Champions League squads.

"What is important in the future is to limit the possibility to have the best players in one team. That is important for competition," Platini said in the July edition of "World Soccer" magazine. "If everybody is in one team that is not so good."

Platini pointed to the ongoing fallout from the 1995 Bosman ruling by the European Court of Justice, which established the free movement of players in the European Union whose contracts had expired.

"With the Bosman rule, you can have all the best players in the same team," Platini was quoted as saying. "In the past in Spain, you have Real Madrid, Atletico (Madrid), Barcelona, Valencia — a lot of teams — and all the players were in different teams. Now, more or less, the best players are in one or two clubs."

Apart from Atletico's title triumph in 2014, the Spanish league title has been won by either Barcelona or Real Madrid in the last decade. Juventus has won the Italian league for four years in a row, and both Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain completed a hat trick of titles last season.

"It is not possible that the best teams would have all the best players or competition itself is finished," Platini said.

"At the moment you have big clubs with a lot of money who can have everybody. We have to think about football in all of Europe not only in two or three clubs."

Platini said he will use a September meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to work on how to change the rules to increase the number of homegrown players in squads. A player trained by clubs in the same country for at least three years between the age of 15 and 21 is considered by UEFA to be "homegrown," regardless of his birthplace.

"I support totally the agenda that says we need more homegrown players because it is not possible to fight on nationality," Platini said.

In England, the rule has been blamed for pushing up the price of domestic talent. Manchester City agreed last week to pay 49 million pounds ($76 million) to sign Raheem Sterling from Liverpool despite the 20-year-old winger only making his first-team debut three years ago. The deal was completed after UEFA-imposed spending restrictions were lifted on City, which cut its losses to comply with Financial Fair Play rules.

In the "World Soccer" interview, Platini did not address if he will run for FIFA president, only saying about the future: "I do know but I can't tell you."

Platini did say he is considering changes to the European Under-21 Championship where some 23-year-olds can play because the age cut-off relates to the qualifiers.

"These competitions like the under-21s are a little bit strange today," said Platini, the former France captain who played for Nancy, Saint-Etienne and Juventus.

"A long time ago it was OK to use this sort of competition to develop the players, but players at 23 nowadays are developed because they have begun working in a Barcelona or Chelsea or Bayern at the age of 12. It is an issue for reflection."


Rob Harris can be followed at http://www.twitter.com/RobHarris

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