Barcelona and co plotting to ward off Liverpool and Arsenal - For good

Arsenal and Liverpool are among teams to profit from snapping up La Liga's best young talent.

English clubs have regularly incurred the wrath of La Liga's finest in recent years, for their prolific raids on top academies in recent years.

Arsenal themselves have snapped up Cesc Fabregas, Fran Merida, Ignasi Miquel, Hector Bellerin, Jon Toral and this summer Julio Plezeguelo from Barcelona alone over the past decade.

Liverpool this summer signed Sergi Canos from Barcelona, and his Spanish under-17 international colleague Pedro Chirivella.

They are not the only two clubs to get in on the act, Manchester United snapped up Gerard Pique from Barcelona a decade ago, while Chelsea signed Barcelona's Josimar Quintero this summer.

It is little wonder La Liga sides, especially Barcelona are furious at the talent drain by the Premier League's top sides, and are looking to do something about it, with their president Sandro Rosell describing Arsenal's signing of Jon Toral two years ago as 'a little immoral'.

The issue arises because Spanish sides are not legally permitted to sign players under 16 to contracts, leaving their top academy talent ripe for the picking if top clubs abroad can convince them - usually by dangling big money in front of them.

Now moves are afoot to prevent such future moves, with a recent Spanish Football League assembly making the issue top priority.

LFB president Javier Tebas said: "We're trying to work out how to protect them and encourage clubs to keep nurturing these academies, because they are extremely important for the future."

"We've set 1st March [2014] as a deadline to decide on what sort of regulations we want to introduce in professional football to protect these types of players, who are under 16 and therefore are not tied to their clubs."

Hope of future such deals is not lost for Premier League sides however, because Spanish newspaper Marca pontificates that such changes could be unenforceable.

They write: "This is because they would boil down to little more than gentlemen's agreements, would only apply in Spain and may not even stand up in a court of law."

It remains a very important issue, and clearly could still yet play out either way. It will be very interesting to see if the Spanish authorities are able to restrict such moves; if they do it could even be good news for young English talent, who will suddenly have less competition from abroad to prevent their own development. 

image: © mariosp

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