x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Fabio Capello: Poaching of talent a problem in football

Fabio Capello is urging Michael Platini and Uefa to create rules to stop big, wealthy clubs from poaching young players from smaller clubs.

Aside from his critical comments about big-spending clubs 'stealing' youth players from small clubs, Fabio Capello, right, also took the time to present Pinto da Costa, president of Porto, with a career achievement trophy.
Aside from his critical comments about big-spending clubs 'stealing' youth players from small clubs, Fabio Capello, right, also took the time to present Pinto da Costa, president of Porto, with a career achievement trophy.

DUBAI // Fabio Capello, the England manager, has urged Michel Platini, the Uefa president, to implement a new rule prohibiting the poaching of young talent from small teams with less financial muscle than the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea and Barcelona.

The Italian said there is a fine line between investing in youth and poaching potential talent.

"More players are being bought when they are very young by richer teams because if a family receives an offer for their son that will bring a lot of financial support, they will be willing to move abroad and change their living habits," he said.

"It's a fine line and a rule needs to be put in place because clubs are scouting all over the world and stealing players from each other." Capello added he "will not accept" that, after a smaller club invests money in the future of young players, a wealthier team can simply walk in, offer a more lucrative package and sign the player to a professional contract.

"I think Uefa should pass new rules to allow clubs to reap the reward from the seed that has been sowed instead of seeing their talents leave when the player receives a major offer," he said.

"I have spoken to Platini, and I am sure that in the future clubs will be forbidden to steal players away when they are still very young."

Gines Melendez, the director of the Royal Spanish Football Federation coach training centre, said that during his career he has only known one successful case where a child aged 10 or 11 has been signed by a club and schooled away from their parents. His name was Andres Iniesta and he was scouted by Albert Benaiges, now director of Al Wasl's academy.

"The player was with my club and this person, who is now based here in Dubai, took Iniesta to FC Barcelona when he was 10 years old, and he had to work hard on him as a person," Melendez said. "Of course, if you have a child who leaves their parents, there is a risk that they will lack a parental figure, but Albert was able to fill that hole."

While Melendez is not in favour of children under the age of 16 signing for clubs, the clubs themselves, he said, are increasingly forced to move early or risk paying a fortune.

"How much would it have cost Barcelona to have [Andres] Iniesta or Xavi or [Lionel] Messi if they had had to buy them aged 20?" Melendez said.

Another result of players relocating at such a young age is that they may feel more of an allegiance to their adopted country.

Deco, the Brazilian-born midfielder, famously represented Portugal despite having no ancestry from the country. He had played in Porto for six years and attained citizenship.

Capello was made acutely aware of the issue of naturalisation at the World Cup last year when his England side crashed out in the quarter-finals to a Germany team boasting a multicultural line-up.

Miroslav Klose and Lukas Podolski, who both scored in the 4-1 win, were born in Poland, while the likes of Mesut Ozil and Jerome Boateng were born in Germany but to Turkish and Ghanaian parentage.

"There are players who acquire new passports," he said.

"Think of Germany - they have many players who have different origins and we all know what happened after that, so it's an issue."

Capello added he has only experienced one case of naturalisation as England manager: Danny Welbeck, the Manchester United forward, who holds both a British passport and a Ghanaian passport.

 

gmeenaghan@thenational.ae