Tag Youth transfers

Tag Youth transfers

Reds welcome Andreas Hoelgebaum Pereira

November 7, 2011 Tags: , , Shorts 21 comments

Manchester United supporters might be forgiven for welcoming yet another highly rated youth prospect to Old Trafford with a grudging nod. After all, while United’s policy of hoovering up the very finest youth talent, especially creative midfielders, is a prudent one, the here-and-now also matters such is the shambles of the Reds’ central midfield at times in the past two seasons. Yet, another ‘prospect’ it is, with confirmation that Brazilian-born Belgian teenager Andreas Hoelgebaum Pereira will join the club 1 January 2012, the day he turns 16.

Pereira, an attacking playmaker who can be deployed in midfield or as a shadow striker, will join from PSV Jugend, Eindhoven’s academy side, for nominal compensation. The player has agreed a three-and-a-half year deal with United.

Starting out at KVSK Lommel in Belgium before moving to PSV aged nine, Pereira has developed a reputation as one of Europe’s finest youth talents. He has been reportedly contacted by most of Europe’s leading clubs and played in the Nike Manchester Premier Cup this summer.

“I am an offensive midfielder, a real 10,” Pereira told De Telegraaf.

“Setting up my team mates, scoring and a good shot are my qualities. PSV knew that I was talking with some clubs and they respected my choice. I had some doubts but at the end Manchester United is my dream team to play for.  I have been a few times to Manchester United to have a look. I got a tour and spoke to Sir Alex Ferguson. Being a 15-year-old, to talk with such a man was great.”

The 15-year-old is the son of Marcos Pereira, a retired Brazilian striker who played in Europe for BSC Young Boys, Mechelen, Sint-Truidense and Royal Antwerp. Indeed, Pereira senior appeared alongside Phil Bardsley, Eddie Johnson, Souleymane Mamam and Dong Fangzhuo for Antwerp in the 2003-4 season.

Junior’s team-mate Zakaria Bakkali was recent linked with move to Manchester City, although his signature is equally sought-after. Bakkali won this year’s Manchester United Premier Cup ‘Most Valuable Player’ award. It was a tournament whose final was played at Old Trafford of all places.

Pereira will join a growing Belgian youth international contingent in Manchester, Marnick Vermijl, Charni Ekangamene and Adnan Januzaj at the club. Meanwhile, United has previously raided Holland for Dutch youth winger Gyliano van Velzen, who stared in the Academy’s run to FA Youth Cup victory last season. United have previously signed Ruud van Nistelrooy, Jaap Stam and Park Ji-sung from PSV Eindhoven.

Here’s some video of Pereira doing stepovers!

Andreas Hoelgebaum Pereira

Faith in youth

April 11, 2011 Tags: , Reads 11 comments

There is something pure about watching youth football. Far away from the prima donnas of the Premier League, the FA Youth Cup offers not only a glimpse of the future but a world without celebrities, gossip and scandal. And even with the constant reorganisation of youth football in England – one that has not always served the country well – the competition still retains its attraction.

Indeed, even as Manchester United youth lost 3-2 to Chelsea’s age group team at Stamford Bridge today, around 1,000 Reds made the trip south. Noisy Reds too, in a crowd a touch over 5,000 in West London. There might well be more than 30,000 at Old Trafford for the return in just under a fortnight.

Much as age group games are entertainment in their own right – and Sunday’s match at the Bridge was certainly that – the essential purpose is of course to bring players through to the first team. In that regard United’s success over the past decade is muted. Arguably only Jonny Evans, Darron Gibson and Darren Fletcher have graduated through the academy and become first team regulars in the past 10 years. Before them Wes Brown and John O’Shea each made their United débuts in the late 1990s.It is far from the “Class of ’92.”

In recent years United’s focus has moved away producing ‘home grown’ players – those from the British Isles – to a strategy that now includes obtaining the most promising players from other clubs academies. Giuseppe Rossi and Gerard Pique may have been forerunners for the policy but in recent years United has increased an overseas scouting network that now includes a Brazilian training centre.

It is also a policy that has engendered controversy, with more than one club complaining loudly in the press, although not actually to FIFA, about United’s predatory tactics.

Few of the new breed has made it at United to date though, although both Rossi and Pique were sold at considerable profit before achieving much on continental Europe. In fact United has made a healthy profit on selling former academy players over the past decade. Of course, Rafael da Silva is now a regular and his brother Fabio is on the cusp of regular action. Each cost the club a fraction of the fee that might be commanded on the open market today, pointing the way to the primary reason behind United’s shift in youth policy in recent years.

There is much promise in United’s current 18-year-old age group though. Sunday’s team included three players recruited from abroad: brilliant Frenchman Paul Pogba, Italian defender Michele Fornasier and flying Dutch winger Gyliano van Velzen. Another supremely talented youth, Mats Møller Dæhli, made a late substitute appearance.

Pogba’s class is self-evident – the rangy midfielder almost kept United in Sunday’s game on his own such is his influence at youth level. It is likely to be the last season 18-year-old Pogba spends with the youth team, before graduating fully to United’s reserves and possibly the first team squad next season.

Fornasier’s composure in a variety of defensive positions bode well for the future, while van Velzen comes with the pedigree of a former Ajax trainee.

There is local talent too, including the athletic Ryan Tunnicliffe who recently made Sir Alex Ferguson’s first team squad. But absent today was the star of United’s youth side – Ravel Morrison – with the 18-year-old is serving out a suspension for a recent red card. The teenager’s well documented problems may, or may not, inhibit his progress but his talent is certainly recognised within the club. After all, first team manager Ferguson drafted in the gifted player into the first team for United’s match against Wolverhampton Wanderers earlier this season.

Such are the vagaries of youth development that none of today’s youth cup semi-final team is guaranteed to progress into Ferguson’s first team. It would be a real disappointment.

Morrison could have made a difference today against a tough and talented Chelsea outfit, which included the much-lauded Josh McEcharan. While the 17-year-old offered a muted display his team-mates passed the ball better than United for the most part and took full advantage of a suspect visiting line-up that included more than one player out of position.

Yet, from 2-0 down at half-time United produced a stirring second-half performance, led by Pogba’s drive, to ensure that the young Reds remain in with a shout on 22 April at Old Trafford.

Thousands will be there, in part for entertainment but also to witness the birth of new talents.

FA Youth Cup semi-final, first leg

Chelsea youth 3 – 2 Manchester United youth
Chalobah (30,42), Devyne (72) – Lingard (56), Pogba (77)

United: Johnstone; M.Keane, Thorpe (c), Fornasier, McGinty; Tunnicliffe, Pogba, Cole, Lingard (Lawrence 84), van Velzen; W.Keane (Daehli 89). Subs not used: Ekangamene, Coll, Rudge.

Reds’ Brazilian deal pushes boundaries of taste and legality

March 27, 2011 Tags: , Reads 38 comments

Manchester United’s path to young Brazilian talent is now well beaten. In recent seasons Anderson, Rodrigo Possebon, and the da Silva twins have all appeared in Sir Alex Ferguson’s first team – to varying degrees of success. While Anderson arrived via Porto at astonishing expense the latter trio joined directly from their homeland for little more than loose change in compensation. It’s a policy that legendary coach Carlos Alberto called the “rape of Brazilian football.” The 1970 World Cup winning right-back has demanded that FIFA outlaw youngsters moving abroad before the age of 21 but to United it is a simple financial equation; the club spent €30 million on Anderson and less than 10 per cent of that on the da Silvas.

Far from heeding the 66-year-old’s words, United expanded the policy in 2009, inking deals with sports management firm Traffic and the agency’s Porto Feliz-based ‘academy’ Deportivo Brasil. Squaring the circle through a partnership with Dutch club FC Twente Enschede, United now intends to bring young Brazilians to Europe and enable them to qualify for either a European passport or a UK work permit if selected for the national team.

Indeed, in the past fortnight five Traffic players attended United’s 1-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers at Old Trafford. Alongside coach Osmar Loss, midfielders Gladstony, Rafael Leão, Agnaldo and Lucas Evangelista, and striker Aguilar watched the match. That, quite laughably, the nation’s leading journalists couldn’t tell this group of Brazilians from Shakhtar Donetsk’s Douglas Costa is another matter altogether.

The quintet has pedigree too, with Aguilar recently breaking into the same Brazilian under-17 side from which both Rafael and Fabio graduated three years ago. The striker played for Twente’s youth side this week along with Lucas Evangelista and Agnaldo, while Rafael Leao and Gladstony also joined training at the club in eastern Holland. It was the first match in a long road that heads inextricably towards Old Trafford.

There is no hiding United’s attempt to bypass the UK work permit system either. Non-EU nationals are required to have played in 75 per cent of their country’s internationals over the past two years or pass a special “exceptional talent” excemption that is now widely abused.

“Twente are a partner, helping United to resolve the problem of their EU passports,” Jochen Losch, president of international business for Traffic, told Goal.com.

“For two reasons it’s good that a player goes first to Holland. First, after two or three years he’s considered to be European. And of course it’s easier to play in the Dutch league than the Premier League.”

It’s a road United has not required for the da Silva twins, who have Portuguese passports, while Possebon obtained Italian citizenship before returning to his homeland last summer. Anderson and Mexican Javier Hernández each qualified under the exceptional talent provision. It’s a wonder why the work permit rules exist at all when leading clubs so openly flout them.

Moreover, the quintet is not the first group from Deportivo Brazil to attend training at United over the past two years. The Brazilian ‘club’ has more than 120 youngsters aged between 13 and 20 on the books, with Traffic maintaining 100 per cent ownership of the boys’ economic rights. It’s the kind of third-party ownership that is now banned in the Premier League.

Traffic, whom those of a more cynical bent might conclude is an appropriate name for the agency, boasts on its website of “total control over assets” prior to players’ sale to “big-spending markets” in Europe and the Middle East. “Players are loaned out to top-clubs in Brazil, while Desportivo Brasil (= Traffic) keeping (sic) the transfer rights of those players at all times,” concludes the agency.

Some might argue that this is the meat market for players that Roy Keane so voraciously complained of, played out to the ultimate globalised degree. United’s policy is, after all, one aimed at delivering not only talent but saving on transfer fees, with the risk to the club minimised. While the financial terms of the club’s involvement is unclear, United will have to pay Traffic a transfer fee should any of the five – or other boys – actually sign at Old Trafford. It is also not unreasonable to assume that the club is already paying Twente or Traffic, or both, in lieu of the boys’ wages.

Yet the Dutch club claims there is no agreement to fast track the players into the first team, where the standard is presumably higher than at Royal Antwerp: “Our technical staff will determine whether a player is good enough to come to Twente and also whether he plays or not. Manchester United will not interfere,” Twente chairman Joop Munsterman told the Daily Mail this week.

Antwerp acted as a proving ground for more than a dozen United players over the past decade but has not served the Reds well in terms of circumventing UK work-permit laws. Danny Higginbotham, Ronnie Wallwork, John O’Shea, Phil Bardsley, Danny Simpson, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, Fraizer Campbell, Jonny Evans, Ryan Shawcross and Darron Gibson have all served time in Belgium before making a career in the Premier League.

But the dream of bringing non-EU nationals to Europe and successfully integrating them into the United set-up largely failed. Hence, United’s agreement with Twente is seemingly different. Ferguson is not expected to send fringe players out on loan but a stream of young Brazilians could well work their way through Twente and on either to United or other European clubs.

Many if not most will fail though, thousands of miles from home and without a local support network. United’s response will dictate history’s judgement, not solely how many players make it into Ferguson’s team. Football’s ability to discard the unwanted player without a moment’s hesitation suggests the club will behave with monentary considerations above all else.

It’s Norway United as Dæhli signs

November 8, 2010 Tags: , Reads 8 comments

Manchester United has added to the growing Norwegian contingent at Old Trafford with the signature of 15-year-old Mats Møller Dæhli. Attacking midfielder Møller Dæhli, son of Norwegian football commentator Truls Dæhli and a sports photographer, is rated among the best emerging young talent from Norway in recent years.

Møller Dæhli is expected to join United’s academy from Norwegian club Stabæk on his 16th birthday – 1 February 2011 – after several trials at United’s Carrington training base in recent months. He will work under academy chief Paul Mcguinness and will join three other young players from Norway in United’s reserves and academy teams.

Described as a talented playmaker who can also operate on the wing, Møller Dæhli made his début for the Stabæk second string in August with a 30 minute cameo.

On the international front the player made his bow for the under-15 (G15) age group this summer, appearing in Norway’s defeats to Spain, Holland and France. Despite the losses, Møller Dæhli was named the player of the tournament.

“Mats has played three very good games, and topped it with a very good performance today,” G15 coach Bard Flovik told fotball.no in the summer.

“He has good skills, is good defensively and dominates offensively but he’s still only 15 years, so there are still things to work on, but he is a very promising player. This was great for us and for him.”

Møller Dæhli will join fellow countrymen Magnus Wolff Eikrem, Joshua King and Etzaz Hussain on United’s books, with the club tapping a rich vein of young talent emerging from Norway. While Eikrem, the reserves’ captain, has won plaudits this season for his progress, King is currently on loan at Championship side Preston North End.

United’s Norway Contingent

Magnus Wolff Eikrem – playmaker Eikrem has caught the attention of United supporters this season with a string of stand-out performances for the reserves. The 20-year-old also made the bench for United’s Carling Cup fixtures against Scunthorpe United and Wolverhampton Wanderers, and the Champions League trip to Bursaspor.

Joshua King – striker King made his United début for United against Wolves in last season’s Carling Cup campaign. The pacey frontman offers plenty of power and an eye for goal. He is currently on loan at Preston, having scored one goal in nine games for the Championship club this season.

Etzaz Hussain – signed professional forms at United on 27 January 2010 having been spotted through Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s network in Norway. The left-sided midfielder is known as a creative playmaker and appeared 17 times for the academy last season.

Mats Møller Dæhli – Media

Dæhli, wearing 12, scores with a long-range dipping effort at around one minute into the video below.

For those with fluent Norwegian, Dæhli is interviewed by Stabæk TV after a recent youth fixture. He’s on the left!


Mats Moller Daeli

Mats Moller Daeli

Mats Moller Daeli

Mats Moller Daeli

United’s reputation for youth under threat

December 3, 2009 Tags: , Reads 10 comments

Manchester United’s reputation for youth development stretches back as far as the Busy Babes. Indeed, the club’s devotion to nurturing its own talent has not only reaped ample rewards on the pitch but on the balance sheet too. In these days of hyper-inflated transfer fees, oil-rich owners and millionaire teenagers it’s a policy that makes sense.

What then should United fans make of the club’s decision to ditch a deal for talented Serbian midfielder Adem Ljajić just days before his expected arrival at Old Trafford? Ljajić, ostensibly brought to United in a £16.5 million joint deal with Zoran Tošić last January, will now not join the club after officials announced the deal was off this morning. Sir Alex Ferguson, having evaluated the player more closely in several visits to United’s training complex at Carrington, decided that Ljajić, 18,  is no better than young prospects already at the club.

Fair enough. After all, the £10 million fee due on Ljajić is no small change, especially in times of global downturn and huge corporate debt.Many fans will also look favorably on Sir Alex Ferguson’s support for home-grown talent.

Yet, perhaps the most shocking aspect of the collapsed deal is the timing. Indeed, reports in the past week – clearly inaccurate – suggested that United was preparing room in the squad for the teenager by shipping out his compatriot Tošić on loan.

What of the past 12 months. The player has progressed from the Serbian under-19 squad to the under-21 team, appearing eight times over the past year. At his club, Partizan Belgrade, the player has reportedly been a star-turn this season, scoring five times and earning rave-reviews for his performances in the Europa League.

Not good enough, or just a little too expensive? Time will tell.

Moreover, there’s something slightly sullied about United’s dealings with the player, aside from the public relations disaster that it has provoked. The club’s choice of faceless statement to announce the death of the transfer was clearly news to the player’s agent. Presumably to the player himself. Until this morning that is.

Ljajić isn’t the first teenager offered the dream of playing for United. Over the past few years the club has embarked on a consistent policy of acquiring the best young talent from abroad. The reserve and youth teams at United contain no fewer than 12 players brought in from outside the British Isles who are 18 or below. Some of them may become stars at the club. Others will no doubt find themselves released to find their own way in an increasingly cynical industry.

Federico Macheda has already hit the headlines; Joshua King made his United début against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the Carling Cup and Daniel Petrucci is a star of the Academy side. At this time, their futures at United look rosy.

It’s a policy not without controversy though. When United signed Paul Pogba from Le Harve this summer, the French outfit threatened to take the club to FIFA in search of a transfer ban, similar to that handed out to Chelsea. There were further claims from Fiorentina over Michele Fornasier and by Empoli in the case of Alberto Massacci and Manuel Pucciarelli.

Cast the mind back a little further and neither Barcelona nor Parma were acquiescent when United captured Gerard Piqué and Giuseppe Rossi.

Perhaps even more emphatic was former Brazil manager Carlos Alberto, who accused the club of “raping” Brazilian football after the transfers of Rafael and Favio da Silva.

In this context, the Ljajić saga is simply another piece of evidence that points to United’s view of the youth transfer market as little more than commoditised. Ship them in, ship them out. After all, the 12 aforementioned overseas teenagers on United’s books cost little more than one percent of Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer fee. One success in 100 is all it takes for the economics to stack up.

Meanwhile, Ljajić faces an uncertain future. At the time of the youngster’s signature – or more accurately, an option to sign – Ljajić was reportedly coveted by Real Madrid and Chelsea no less. He could yet move to one of Europe’s heavyweights. And if he does more evidence will stack up to support the theory that United is playing a tawdry game of economics with Europe’s youth.

In the meantime United’s management, with a proud youth development record from the Busy Babes, to Fergie’s Fledglings and the ‘class of ’92’ to protect, would do well to take a step back and ask themselves just how much of a player meat-market they will tolerate.

Essential reading:

United vindicated over Pogba transfer

October 8, 2009 Tags: , Shorts No comments

Paul Pogba, the French teenager who United signed from Le Harve this summer, is clear to play for the club after FIFA ruled on the case last night. The transfer of Pogba caused controversy when Le Harve president Jean-Pierre Louvel accused United of illegally poaching the player. The FIFA judgement means that Pogba is free to play for the club immediately.

In a case that had echoes of Gael Kakuta, whose transfer to Chelsea has seen the London club receive a two transfer window ban, Le Harve accused United of offering Pogba financial inducements to break his contract with the French club. Louvel also said that United bought Pogba’s parents a house in Manchester. Indeed, so vitriolic were Louvel’s accusations about United that the club threatened to take Le Harve to court if he refused to keep quiet.

“Manchester United is pleased to confirm that the Football Association has been authorised by Fifa to register Paul Pogba as a Manchester United player with immediate effect,” said the club in a statement last night.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and managing director David Gill each insisted that the club had offered no inducement to break Pogba’s contract or made payments to the player’s parents.

The judgement last night completely vindicates Untied’s position. The ruling makes clear that Pogba was an amateur because he did not received payments over and above normal expenses, and that because of his age (16) the player could not have signed a professional contract anyway. The judgement dismissed Le Havre’s submissions and granted international clearance.

This is the second case against United dismissed by FIFA in as many months. In September the world governing body said that United had no case to answer in the transfer of former Fiorentina player Michele Fornasier to the club.

Fergie: “We never pay parents”

September 10, 2009 Tags: , Shorts 1 comment

Sir Alex Ferguson has hit back at claims that Manchester United paid the parents of French teenager Paul Pogba, who joined the club from Le Harve this summer. Speaking at his Friday morning press conference, Ferguson said that the club had only been brought into the youth transfers controversy because United is the biggest club.

“They (the media) were always going to bring Manchester United into it because we’re the biggest club, without any knowledge of the situation,” said Ferguson.

“I can assure you Manchester United has behaved correctly in all dealings we have with parents.  There has never been a case, ever, that we have paid parents. It would be crazy to even contemplate that because it would be the biggest headache you could ever have, paying a parent.”

Le Harve President Jean-Pierre Louvel accused United of giving Pogba’s parents €100,000 (£87,000) each, and a house, to bring him to Old Trafford.

“This (charge) was levelled by a frustrated President and he’s now going to have to retract it. What other clubs do is subject to a lot of controversy at the moment but I’m confident at our own club,” Fergie continued.

Blatter threatens points deduction

September 9, 2009 Tags: Shorts 6 comments

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has threatened clubs found guilty of poaching young players with points deduction as the row that has engulfed English football sees no sign of abating. Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City have all been accused of taking under 18-year-old players from continental clubs.

Chelsea were found guilty last week of illegally taking Frenchman Gael Kakuta from Racing Lens, and punished with a two window transfer ban. The guilty verdict has prompted a series of clubs across Europe to publicly complain about the actions of Premier League sides.

Indeed, United stands by Le Harve of inducing 16-year-old Paul Pogba to break his contract with the French Ligue 2 side and by Fiorentina in the case of Michele Fornasier. There are further question marks hanging over the acquisitions of Alberto Massacci and Manuel Pucciarelli from Empoli.

“It is so right when you speak about taking points away,” said Blatter today.

“We have already seen the reaction of a club who have said a player is registered with them but not as a professional player; he is only an amateur. This will not help because it’s a question of age and not a question of if he has a contract or not,” he continued referring to yet another case.

United has consistently denied any wrongdoing in the cases of Pogba, Massacci and Pucciarelli.

Le Harve has no case – agent

September 9, 2009 Tags: , Shorts No comments

Manchester United has no case to answer in the transfer of Paul Pogba from Le Harve, according the player’s agent. Speaking to The Times Pogba’s agent, Gaël Mahé, claimed that no wrongdoing had taken place and that the French Ligue 2 side has several pieces of crucial documentation missing.

“No money had changed hands up front, though Paul will get a very good contract when he turns professional,” Mahé told The Times.

“All he has from United is a flat in Manchester for him and his mother to live in.

“The problem is that there are three things Le Havre do not have. They do not have a contract aspirant, they do not have convention of formation and they do not have a late-trigger contract. All they have is a contract of non-solicitation, which is invalid outside France.

“We spent a long time ensuring that the document we signed with Manchester United was legally watertight.”

Mahé contradicts reports that Pogba signed a contract aspirant – a blunt pre-contract agreement in France.  Instead, Mahé’s comments back up claims that the contract aspirant was not signed by the player himself.

A question of youthful ethics

September 8, 2009 Tags: Reads 7 comments

The debate about the transfer of under-18 players, while raging at football administration level for some time, was finally brought to the public attention in the past week following Chelsea’s heavy sanction by FIFA. The London club’s two window transfer ban for inducing Gaël Kakuta to leave Lens for England is perhaps the first shot in a war that is being incited by continental European clubs enraged principally by the actions of England’s major teams. At the heart of the debate are complex issues of youth employment, contracts, players’ rights and predatory clubs.

Motivated both to seek the best world talent and reduce their transfer fee burden, English clubs have been exploiting differences in employment law between the United Kingdom and European territories. Whereas the Premier League’s finest can sign a player onto a trainee contract before 16 years of age and enjoy the protection that it offers, clubs in France, Italy, Spain and Germany generally cannot.

Indeed, many continental clubs such as Barcelona, who lost Fabregas at 16, are able only to offer full professional contracts to players once they reach 16 years old, thereby risking losing the player on their 16th birthday. It’s a loophole that brought Cesc Fagregas, Federico Macheda, Giuseppe Rossi, Gerrard Pique and many others to England over the last few years. It is also this situation that has driven many clubs, especially those in France, to place their youth players on a ‘contract aspirant’ – a crude pre-contract agreement that is largely unenforceable in British law.

However, FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Committee ruling on Thursday last effectively ruled that not only did Kakuta’s pre-contract agreement stand, but that it was an enforceable contract with his club Lens. By offering Kakuta a wage Chelsea had thereby induced the player to break that enforceable contract.

One proposed solution – sponsored by both UEFA’s Michael Platini and FIFA’s Sepp Blatter – is a blanket international ban on player transfers under the age of 18. It’s a proposal seemingly endorsed by players’ groups too. Gordon Taylor, the Professional Footballers Association chair and FiFPro president, today called for such a measure.

“There’s been a general feeling that a ban on movement of players under the age of 18 would be better for the game,” Taylor told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Sportsweek programme.

“Football is about competition. You can’t have all the best youngsters at the biggest, richest clubs.”

“You need to encourage clubs, if they’re going to have youth development programmes, to be able to pick out the lads and have some time with them.

“If they do move on, which may be inevitable you need a system whereby proper, effective compensation is paid. At the end of the day you can’t stop people moving but it’s about fair compensation.

“I don’t think this situation with Chelsea would have reached the stage it has now if compensation had been agreed between the two clubs.”

While a move to ban the transfer of under-18s may appeal on a superficial level, thereby negating the predatory instincts of rich powerful clubs, it is not a situation that is legally enforceable in any other industry. In Kakuta’s case the contract aspirant he signed at 14 would turn into a full three-year employment contract at 17. That’s a total legally committed time of six years for a player barely into his teens. In any other industry it would be deemed modern day child slavery.

A ban would, in theory, promote the continued development of the best youth talent. Why should clubs invest in training players, it is said, if they are allowed to leave without compensation?

But Taylor castigates the market for enabling the richest clubs to hoard youth talent, while the exact same processes are alive and well and enriching his members once a player is no longer deemed a ‘youth’. Under the current rules that dichotemy is not sustainable.

It is unsuprising that clubs such as Lens and Le Harve feel cheated by larger clubs which remove their better youth players without paying a transfer fee. But the problem with youth transfers highlighted by the Kakuta and Paul Pogba cases is surely a symptom of an industry that has become bloated at the very top level. Football as a community has allowed wages, transfer fees and the perpetual supply of money into the industry from the media inflate to truly unsustainable levels. At 18 Kakuta will earn close to £1 million per year without having kicked a ball for the Chelsea first team.

Firstly, football must become financially sustainable – spending only what it can truly afford. While the industry’s leading clubs are so heavily indebted it seems unlikely that UEFA or FIFA will act but act they should. Manchester United, despite the £700 million debt handed to the club by the Glazer family, are one of the few European elite clubs to rigidly stick to a rule that says wages (and bonuses) will not rise above 60% of revenues. It’s a sensible and enforceable cap that would simply require clubs to submit audited accounts prior to entering European competitions.

Only then will the game’s governing bodies have the moral authority to strip the industry of out-dated ‘tapping up’ and youth contract rules that are ignored by the leading clubs, overridden by market forces and unenforceable in European law.

It is a fact that large clubs will always attract the best talent, seeking the biggest wages. Why shouldn’t clubs speak to whomever they want, if the player is keen to have a conversation? This is after all the employment market that the majority of fans live in.

But an enforceable system of compensation based on both current player status and future success would meet the needs of ‘smaller’ clubs such as Lens when it comes to transfers, encouraging them to invest in youth. It would not enslave players who want to move on and – perhaps most importantly – it would continue to redistribute wealth from the top.

It’s obvious but then football it seems is yet to grow up.