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United confident of avoiding Pogba punishment

Manchester United are adamant their recent capture of French youngster Paul Pogba was conducted 'within UEFA guidelines' in the wake of Chelsea's shock transfer ban.

Under a FIFA punishment imposed on Thursday, Chelsea have been prevented from signing new players in the next two transfer windows, meaning they must wait until January 2011 to strengthen their squad.

The ban relates to the signing of Lens youngster Gael Kakuta in 2007 after FIFA ruled that Chelsea induced the player to break his contract with the French club. However, the London side have pledged to mount the 'strongest appeal possible' against the decision.

United's conduct in the signing of Pogba from Le Havre has also been scrutinised as the French club were furious to see the youth international move to Old Trafford during the summer, but the English champions are certain they have done nothing wrong.

"It is complete nonsense," a spokesman for United said. "Everything has been done within UEFA guidelines."

Le Havre managing director Alain Belsoeur is determined to fight United though, telling The Times: "We are still pursuing our case. It is a very serious case. We are confident that we'll win because it is in the best interests not just of our club but of sport.

"We spend 5 million euros [£4.3m] on our academy every year out of a turnover of 12 million euros [£10.5m]. It is a huge investment. We do that to give a chance to our players to develop for our first team, not to be an academy for others.

"What is the point of investing in an academy if the players leave at 16? This is clearly a message from FIFA to protect the education system.''

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