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Lazio chief: Macheda was ''robbed'' by United

Lazio president Claudio Lotito has hit out at the way Manchester United were able to snatch away star prospect Federico Macheda from their youth academy.

The 17-year-old became an instant Old Trafford hero on Sunday when he came off the bench to score a stunning last-gasp winner in the 3-2 victory over Aston Villa, sending United back to the top of the table.

But Lazio, who first groomed the young striker before he moved to Manchester, have been left angered by the loss of Macheda.

''All these players are robbed as a matter of course by this club,'' Lotito said in quotes reported by the Daily Mail. ''They are always outside what is normal in terms of etiquette.

''They go to the parents and give them money and important jobs. These are boys who come from poor families. The families base their choices on economic interests.

''It's not moral. It is like a cattle market. The young players are treated like cattle.''

However, Macheda's father believes his son made the right choice by leaving Lazio to join Manchester United.

''It's thanks to Lazio that today Federico is doing well in his English experience,'' said Pasquale Macheda, 34. ''He was a part of Lazio's youth team and he was fortunate there to learn a lot and become a serious lad from a sporting point of view.

''Federico was born in Rome and grew up at Lazio. But it's not easy to resist an offer from a prestigious club like Manchester.

''Now we are enjoying the moment and we are proud of what Federico has done. He is a serious kid with his feet firmly on the ground.''

One person at Lazio who did celebrate the player's instant success was Federico's former coach with the club's youth team, Stefano Avincola.

''I am delighted for him,'' he said. ''Of course there's some regret at the Lazio camp for seeing a quality player leave.

''But I want to reiterate that Lazio did everything they could to keep Federico at the club, seeing in him a player with potential and good prospects.

''Unfortunately, it was not possible and the lad and his family made an understandable choice of leaving Lazio and thanking the club for everything they did for the young Federico.''

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