Le Havre lash out as United ‘poach’ Pogba
Posted by nickogs20 on August 2, 2009
In a statement on their official website, French Ligue 2 side Le Havre have confirmed that their promising young midfielder Paul Pogba has joined Manchester United, much to their chagrin.
Pogba is rated as one of the most promising young players in France and has captained Les Bleus at U16 level. Of Guinean descent, the physically imposing defensive midfielder – born in March 1993 – follows the likes of Lassana Diarra, Pascal Chimbonda and Charles N’Zogbia through Le Havre’s famed youth development program, and has been tracked by a number of top European clubs for some time. Le Havre believed they had an agreement in place with the 16 year-old and his parents that would see him remain with the north coast club until at least the end of the forthcoming 2009/10 season.
Much to their annoyance that now appears to not be the case, with United appearing to have beaten Arsenal in the race to secure Pogba’s signature, and Les Ciel et Marine have reacted angrily to what they describe as the theft of their young prodigy. The following statement was posted on their official site on Friday:
“Le Havre wishes to express its indignation regarding the dealings of Manchester United’s directors in relation to Paul Pogba.
Paul Pogba, his parents and Le Havre were bound to a contract called a ‘non-solicitation agreement’ from autumn 2006. At the end of that contract, the three parties agreed to sign a trainee contract when the player matched certain age and scholarship criteria, taking him through to the end of the 2009/10 season. The player and his parents have refused to keep to the arrangement because Manchester United have offered very high sums of money to the parents of the (player) with the aim of obtaining the transfer of their son.
This this great European club with its prestigious history has not hesitated to put the player and his parents “in breach of this contract” in order to sign the player at a lower cost. This foolish act is even more unacceptable when it comes from a club of such a scale. At a time when many voices have started to be heard coming out of the EU, governments, FIFA and UEFA against ‘minor slave trade’, Manchester United have not hesitated to uproot a 16-year-old kid!
Le Havre recalls that this is the same club who, a few weeks ago, deigned to give lessons in morality with regard to the sums being paid by certain clubs in the transfer market, and yet are found today to be plundering Le Havre, and French football, of one of its best young players.
Le Havre intends to call on the authorities to denounce such behaviour and to impose heavy sanctions. We intend to put every effort towards ensuring that such incidents are frowned upon by all, and to defend the training of young people, in order to protect the values of our sport.”
For their part, United claim to have done nothing wrong in their acquisition of the player. A Reds spokesman told the BBC: “It is complete nonsense. Everything has been done within Uefa guidelines”. Nonetheless, the club are sure to be on the receiving end of further criticism for ‘poaching’ young European talent, having previously come under fire for the signings of Giuseppe Rossi, Gerard Piqué, Federico Macheda and Davide Petrucci.
As ever in cases like these, which have become increasingly common in recent years, there are mixed feelings as a fan of the recruiting club, a moral dilemma if you will. While there is obvious excitement at the arrival of such a highly-touted young player, and acknowledgement of the circumstances that lead United and other English clubs to seek to acquire players in this manner, there is also understanding of the obvious frustration and anger felt by the club who lose one of their brightest prospects.
UEFA president Michel Platini has been pushing for the introduction of a rule preventing the international transfer of players under the age of 18, and member associations, clubs, leagues and players agreed in principle at a meeting in March this year, but until such a rule is officially passed (which is likely to hinge on the outcome of Ireland’s referendum later this year on the Treaty of Lisbon and it’s clause recognising the specificity of sport) clubs are well within their rights to obtain players in the manner United have acquired Pogba.
English clubs do seem to be at the centre of the overwhelming majority of cases like this, or at the very least it seems that way. A major factor in that is the financial clout of clubs in this country and the money they are prepared to pay to young players (and their families) in comparison to their continental peers, but also worth considering is the frankly ridiculous ’90 minute’ ruling in England that prevents clubs recruiting players from further afield than ninety minutes travelling time. When you consider that the ninety minute radius for United includes a large swathe of the Irish Sea and North Wales, and that the remainder is shared with other clubs from the North West, Yorkshire and the Midlands, you can see why clubs have tended to look further afield in recent years.
This is obviously of no consolation to the likes of Le Havre, but it goes some way to explaining the so-called ‘pillaging’ of talented youngsters from certain European countries by English clubs, and I guess to easing our collective conscience as fans of English teams. If UEFA are successful in implementing their desired restriction on the international transfer of Under-18 players however, English clubs will go from what currently seems to be a position of strength to being at a significant disadvantage compared to their European rivals – Barcelona and Real Madrid for example are free to scout Spain in its entirety.