FURIOUS Alex Ferguson insists Manchester United will force Le Havre to retract their claims that the Premier League champions paid off the parents of a French teenager and said it would be “crazy” to even contemplate such action.
And as UEFA’s transfer row deepens, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has warned a proposed ban on the transfer of under 18s would be very damaging for the game.
Ferguson launched an impassioned defence of United’s signing of young players after the club were accused by Le Havre president Jean-Pierre Louvel of offering the parents of 16-year-old Paul Pogba a house and £170,000 in cash.
Chelsea have been banned from making signings for two transfer windows for inducing a teenager to break his contract with another French club, Lens, and a number of other complaints against English clubs have since been made.
Apart from the Pogba case, Fiorentina have written to FIFA over United’s swoop for 16-year-old Italian defender Michele Fornasier, though a formal investigation has yet to be launched.
Ferguson said: “There has been a lot of jumping on the bandwagon of course but I can assure you Manchester United have behaved absolutely correctly in all their dealings with young players and their 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.
“This was levelled at us by some frustrated director at the French club and he’s now going to have to retract.
“We do it impeccably. They were always going to bring Manchester United into it because they are the biggest club, but without any foundation, without any knowledge of the situation whatsoever.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger defended the pursuit of the world’s best young talent by the Premier League’s top clubs and declared a ban on the transfer of under 18s would be very damaging for the game.
Both the game’s international governing bodies, UEFA and FIFA, want to outlaw international transfers of players aged under 18, with respective presidents Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini referring to the practice as being akin to “child slavery” and “child trafficking”.
Arsenal have a long history of developing young talent from around the globe – with current captain Cesc Fabregas having left the Barcelona youth system to complete his schooling with the Gunners.
Wenger maintained the current system works, but accepted the need for proper compensation to be agreed for a player’s early development.
“Look at the alternative. If you ban players from moving before the age of 18, you know what will happen? The player will be sold anyway,” he said.
“To whom? To agents. At what age? At 13, 14. Where will they go? Not to top-level clubs with top-level education.
“They will go to clubs who have been bought by business people, of a very low level, and will stay there until the age of 18 waiting to be sold. The money will go out of the game.
“If your players cannot move to the best clubs, I believe they will not improve. At the end of the day, to be a top-level player is to be with the best.
“You can speak bout the compensation level, is it right or not. I am open to that. I am against the process of stopping the players moving to the top level.
“If you have a child who is a good musician, what is your first reaction?
“It is to put it into a good music school, not in an average one, so why should that not happen in football?”
The Gunners boss maintained: “If a player goes to Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United, it is all clean and he gets a good education. That is why I am very sharp on cases like that.
“We have to respect the rules that are in place.”
Wenger feels allowing natural talent to develop at the top clubs has to be encouraged, rather than legislated against.
“England is, at the moment, in a week position for taking young players because they inflict a big handicap on themselves by the fact that they have no access to Asian players, no access to South American players, no access to African players,” Wenger said.
“On top of that, if it was impossible to take European players then you will have a big handicap in the future for English football.
“What is happening now is a case that I have fought for a long, long time against – people with regressive ideas.
“To expose your local players to top-world class players does not harm your players, it improves your players because it respects one basic rule – the best to become better have to play better.
“If you have a good national team today, it just proves it conforms to what I have preached for a long, long time – don’t hide the best players in England from being exposed with the best ones, because that will make them weaker.
“Get them to be confronted with the best and make them stronger.”
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