x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Premier League poaching is legal but borderline immoral

It surely can't be right that Barca invest time and money in rearing these kids from the age of eight only to see them lured to the bright lights of the Premier League because they are too young to sign a professional contract in Spain.

Cesc Fabregas has lit up the Premier League with his perceptive passing and peripheral vision.

His foresight was evident in his early teens when he recognised the emerging Xavi and Andres Iniesta were going to amply fill the midfield shoes of the ageing Pep Guardiloa and his chances of regular football at Barcelona were going to be limited.

He decided to swap the Nou Camp for north London and join Arsenal.

The journey is a now a well-trodden one with Fran Merida, Jon Toral, Hector Bellerin and now Gerard Deulofeu being plucked from Barcelona's famed La Masia academy.

Although Arsenal have done nothing illegal, there is something immoral about taking players from their home as schoolboys and parachuting them into a foreign country.

It surely can't be right that Barca invest time and money in rearing these kids from the age of eight only to see them lured to the bright lights of the Premier League because they are too young to sign a professional contract in Spain.

Perhaps seeing so many of his graduates leave with little or no compensation is what prompted Albert Benaiges to vacate his role as Barca's technical director and join Al Wasl. Barca should not be blamed one iota for refusing to pay Arsenal over the odds to bring Fabregas, one of their own, back to Spain. Why should they?

Arsenal are not the only guilty party here; the likes of Federico Macheda, Gerard Pique and Gael Kakuta have not been so successful at Manchester United and Chelsea respectively because those clubs are not so committed to youth. Plus the transition from Barca to Arsenal is more seamless.

Arsenal are considered the only peers to Barca in terms of purveyors of the Beautiful Game yet are still playing catch up. Their philiopshy seems to be, 'If you can't beat them, join them.'

kaffleck@thenational.ae