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The real immorality rests utterly within bankrupt Barcelona

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By Tony Attwood

The Barcelona president, Sandro Rosell, has called Arsenal’s signing of a 16-year-old Jon Miquel Toral Harper “immoral”.   The player was 16 on 5 February, has there’s been talk of him being the “new Cesc Fábregas”.   He’s just about the same age as Cesc was when he stepped up his career in the same way.

But there’s more to the story than might be first thought.   First, there’s a connection with England for the player – his mother is English, he’s reported to have said he would like to play in England, and he actually asked to leave the club when he was 15.

The dominant fact however is the lack of harmony about employment laws in Europe.  I am certainly not an expert on Spanish law but as I understand it a Spanish company can’t offer and person under 16 an employment contract, while a UK company can.   On the other hand, Arsenal are highly restricted as to who they can pull into their academy (the restriction being a geographic one).

Barca get around the problem by offering contracts to non-Spanish citizens often as young as 7 (Kais  from Lyon) 8 year old Antman (from Lyon) and 9 year old Patina from Canada.  Or come to that Lionel Messi a few years back.

It is also true that Barca went fishing for Benik Afobe and Chuks Aneke last season when they were 17.

In another twist the Spanish media have said that the deal was brokered by an agent who is the brother of the Pep Guardiola – but Young Guns Blog (a mine of information on all this) says otherwise.  I go with the blog on this occasion, on the grounds that they have always been right in the past.

But when asked about signing Cesc again the comment from President Rossell was, “Barça must have the best possible team and we have to fulfil the requests from the technical staff without forgetting the economic situation and that Barça has to pay salaries and costs.  If Cesc comes, because the technical staff want him and he wants to, the club members would accept it.”That’s a good bit of double talk when you remember that last June Barca were in such a financial fix that they were unable to pay their own players.  So bad was the situation that not one single bank was willing to make the loan to allow the salaries to be played.   Since then the club has announced that its sacred shirt front that never took paid adverts is taking paid adverts.  It is unlikely to be enough.

In terms of cost, it looks like about £300,000.  In terms of the young lads name, Torel is the dad’s name and Harper the mum’s name – the other bits are his forenames, as far as I know.  And he plays in the Cesc position – hence the excitement.  He is also one of those rare players who is genuinely two footed.   I guess the first question is whether he starts breaking records like Cesc did.

The path to Arsenal from the bankruptcy of Barca is getting well worn, and now includes Cesc Fabregas, Fran Merida (now with Athletico Madrid) and Ignasi Miquel (who played against Orient).

But looking at that list reminds me of another point that has arisen in the past.  In October 2007, Mérida was ordered by the courts in Spain to pay a fee around €3.2m to Bankrupt Barce for his “failing to meet the terms of a personal pre-contract” with Barcelona.

At the time this was said in some quarters to have serious implications for clubs in England, where, as noted above, players can sign pro contracts earlier than in Spain.  A Madrid-based lawyer, Rodrigo García, was quoted as saying, “English teams will now think again before signing a young Spanish player.”   Presumably they have thought again, and found the way out of that particular problem.

Highly recommended: Young Guns Blog

Match fixing scandal latest…

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29 comments to The real immorality rests utterly within bankrupt Barcelona

  • walter

    I hope he has the same career as Cesc did. 😉 The fact that Wenger has talked to him (if I can believe reports) suggests that Wenger rates him higly. So I feel good about that.

    The fact that Barcelona are upset about this is a sign that they also rate him high. So another good sign.

    Just bring him on I would say. 😉

    And let us expose the double talk from Barcelona as much as we can.

  • Dark Prince

    Pathetic from barca really. To be honest, i’m quite happy that we got another talented midfielder from spain. Some say that we should never get someone from barca bcoz of the whole Cesc saga, but i think otherwise and hope we can bring more of them. Sad that Sergi Samper got out of our hands…but he still hasn’t signed a contract with barca so we still could get him, hopefully.

  • GOONER80

    I heard reports that Sandro Rosell was screaming at IVAN gazidis about this issue, I even asked ANNE (Barca Fan) who has become a reader of UNTOLD what she thought?

    does it pose the question are we really better than any other club? I mean Bordeaux wasnt happy with us and have vowed never to sell a player unless it is a FREE to us again. Arsenal has become very alluring for any young prospect and especially anyone from france and from my understanding a large part of french speaking africa, we are gaining that magnet quality that people are starting to dream of playing for arsenal.

    I also love how we are loaning players out,it is becoming hard to hold onto so much talent and as we all know barca will eventually get CESC and if Rambo didnt break his leg CESC might have gone is going to be inevitable that some players are going to have to move on and although I dont like the selling of players especially Gilberto if he didnt get sold he would have stopped the potential coming through, the loaning of players his fast tracking them, some teams will be biting our hands off to get our players and if Barca are smart they should build a relationship with us where they benefit from our development; cesc wouldn’t be where he is today without arsenal and it was obvious he wasnt happy from him to leave in the first place, there was no gun being held to his head, my problem is I dont mind Barca getting their player back but pay the market rate, If someone sells me their house cheap and I fix it up and turn it into a palace dont expect me to drop the price because all of a sudden you have nostalgia about the place. A year ago I thought cesc would be on the bench at barca now Im not so sure I think he is up there with XAvi and inesta and OPTA have confirmed he is the most creative player in the world/ europe no one delivers that killer pass like cesc, No one does what cesc does and it is no surprise young Harper wants to come

  • nkunda

    There was and there will always be ONE Arsenal!

    The rest are united. players come and go , gain and loose form.

    Just stick to the team and TRUST in Arsene.

  • RedGooner

    Its great to see our feeder club in Spain complaining it means Jon Miquel Toral Harper must be a bright prospect as Bar

  • RedGooner

    Its great to see our feeder club in Spain complaining it means Jon Miquel Toral Harper must be a bright prospect as Barca never complained as much about Miquel or Meridia from what I remember.
    Considering over 50% of each of Barca’s under age squads are not EU citizens they must be good at fishing themselves.

    I think Cesc will stay also we will win the trophies required this year if we dont suffer serious injuries at the wrong time.

  • Dark Prince

    It happens everywhere. Even our youngsters are scouted by other clubs. Fran Merida left on a free transfer after learning with us. Barca dont seem to complaining about him or Miquel. But Cesc is targeted bcoz he’s the best midfielder in the world now, something which they never thought would happen. So they are just taking advantage of Cesc’s emotion. Now thats what you call ‘immoral’.

  • jim

    Just wondering does Barcelona Acedemy really producing top players… So far I only know Xavi, messi and inesta. before this all their star player like ronaldinho, Figo, Eto, ronaldo weren’t thier academy product. The new product like pedro, bojan and busquet was good but not great rightt..

  • Paul C.

    Toral is indeed one of the two best prospects that Barca have right now, along with Samper. The youth team he was a part of was starting to get favorably compared to the youth team of Messi, Cesc, Pique etc.

    Obviously he has a long way to go but at 16 he seems a very bright prospect.

    To me this is a non-story. Toral wanted to come back to England, Arsenal offered him a contract. He didnt have to accept the contract. Barcelona could have said “in a years time we will pay you XXXX” or whatever. They didnt, or if they did he still wanted to come back to the UK. So what is the problem?

    Ah, its Barcelona. I see. Barcelona have to get EVERYTHING their own way. Yes, I get it now.


  • Paul C.

    Tony – I dont know if it is just me butr I cannot stand the new format of the home page of Untold Arsenal. It is impossible to see what the most recent post was and also what the most recent comment was. If I had never been on the site before I would spend 10 seconds trying to find todays post and then navigate away to a site more friendly.

  • IndianGooner

    Agree with Paul C regarding the new format.. Can you please put the recent posts and comments at the top of the left column..

  • Paul C.

    IG – I am glad someone else thought the same. I found it really frustrating when I came on the site this morning. I think the Number 1 thing that a blog should provide is a quick and easy index of recent posts and comments.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I think I am to blame for this with the new format of my ref reviews which is just a bit to wide for the site…

  • GOONER80

    I agree hard to find the latest post

  • bollock-chops

    My exact thoughts too!


    Torel Squand number is 10!!! that proves how good he is.

  • RedGooner

    Walter make it skinny again 🙂
    I agree I thought the same having to look everywhere for the latest comments stories etc.

  • oldgunner

    Toral Harper is English I think this made him more attractive to manu and chelsea, really pleased he’s joining us (don’t know why I haven’t got a clue what position he plays)but pleased anyway

  • zuer

    posting this comment just to agree with paul c and indiangooner.. don’t like the new homepage..

    on topic.. let them complain, its all they can do.. cesc will stay for several more years, and then we will a better player in ramsey… even nasri can fill the void shoud cesc goes now.. miquel n toral wants to be a part of the team that shall win the quadruple this season… 😀

  • Brickfields Gunners

    I’m glad to see Barc are hot under the collar – since its not illegal, let them stew.What goes around does come around – its just desserts .
    I tend to agree with Paul C – if they were really keen to keep him they would have made him an offer he couldn’t refuse .If thing do work out for the lad , Arsenal and England will both benefit.
    OLE !

  • GOONER80

    The only thing is arsenal cant take the moral high ground, we havent done nothing wrong and in a way barca have a taste of their own medicine but we are in danger of becoming child snatchers

    arsenal the most long term planners in the game, the arsenal factory has an unbelievable production line, anyone else notice UTD copying us and are no longer buying established names but just buying potential

  • GoonerOz

    I’m not sure that Rosell is moaning because this kid is wonderful – though hopefully he will be. I reckon he’s using this to wind up the crowd for the return and make the Nou Camp as intimidating as possible.

  • Anne


    I’m flattered that you thought of me, and sorry it took me so long to get back to you 🙂 What exactly about the Toral issue were you wanting my opinion on?

  • Rhys Jaggar

    A piece you would expect from a diehard Gooner, but the reality is that you correctly highlighted the inconsistenccies in employment law which, in effect, make all the nurseries of mainland Europe sweet shops for EPL clubs.

    You’re also right to highlight that Barcelona can look after themselves and also have previous. If this guy was as important to them as Messi was, they’d prioritise, wouldn’t they?

    The one thing I disagree with you about is Barca not being able to sign Cesc last summer.

    They can always sign him, so long as their player disposal policy is consitent with squad, fan and financial realities.

    So I don’t think they could have easily placated fans by selling Iniesta to Man City to buy Fabregas, much as the maths and squad set up would probably have been OK. Ditto Xavi.

    But they did sell Ibrahimovic, released Henry and sold Yaya Toure, so clearly they pruned their budget quite a bit and could presumably have done so some more.

    All of which presumed that Arsenal wanted to sell.

    Which at the prices Barcelona would pay, they didn’t want to.

    Arsenal’s situation now is slightly different; with Wilshere and Nasri now flourishing, Fabregas is not totally irreplaceable. No-one wants him to go and Arsenal don’t need the money.

    But from Arsenal’s perspective, it is no longer an issue of being irreplaceable on the pitch.

    That’s a mile from me saying I want him to be sold, it’s saying Arsenal FC is bigger than Cesc Fabregas and it will endure long after he has retired.

    The bigger issue needs to be dealt with by FIFA and UEFA, namely harmonising employment regulations to protect the work of academies across Europe, which should be valued by Arsenal as much as they value their own work……..

  • Anne

    On a related note, I thought you guys might enjoy these comments from the notoriously “classless” Xavi Hernandez. Oddly enough, throughout the whole Toral media storm, Xavi’s comments on the topic entirely escaped the notice of the English media. You should all seriously pause for a moment and ask yourselves why. If you’re able to answer that question, I promise you that you’ll spend a lot less time being angry at FC Barcelona.

    Asked about Jon Toral’s decision to leave, the former la Masia graduate replied, “It’s difficult to solve [these kinds of things]. The law is so complicated and it is a person’s right to choose where he wants to go. It happened with Cesc and Gerard. It all depends on whether the player wants to stay or leave. I believe it was the wish of the player to leave and we can’t stop him.”

    “In truth, I don’t think it was Wenger himself [who persuaded him]. It was the player himself, and his family who chose to leave. It just so happen it coincided with the [Champions League] tie but I don’t believe they are looking for any controversy.”

    Read more:

  • kagiso

    I have been reading about a young 13 year old playing within the arsenal acedemy, which is making some serious waves and playing above his level. Are you aware of this young lad.

  • Mihir Saudagar

    Please bring back the old format Tony.

  • Davi

    @kagiso. I’ve heard that too, but his name is being protected. I think it’s best it stays that way.

  • Miquel

    It’s really pathetic to see how most comments here tend to support one team -Arsenal- by attacking another. Were you happy with your performance? Did you played your game?
    The point is that most of you are tired of seeing good footbal but not played by your team.

    Be serious, get to play and forget about ghost stories, paid referees and bankrupcies.

    The fans and the English press should ask Wenger about his tactics and the poor performance of the team. Were 20 good minutes in the first match enough? Instead, it looks like one prefers to blame the ref and forget about the gameplay.

    I always thought the coach and the fans were smarter at Arsenal.