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Sep 8, 2009

City defend Helan deal as new transfer row erupts

Manchester City have become the latest English club to come under scrutiny for their recruitment of young players after FIFA confirmed they are investigating the club's capture of Jeremy Helan from Rennes.

The 17-year-old defender moved to England in February and FIFA announced on Tuesday morning that they have been asked to look into the transfer.

"We can confirm that there is a case pending with FIFA's Player Status Department involving Jeremy Helan, Stade Rennais FC and Manchester City," read a statement from the governing body.

In the wake of Chelsea's transfer ban, which prevents them from signing players for the next two transfer windows, the process by which English clubs recruit teenage talents from abroad is firmly in the spotlight.

Manchester United have strenuously denied suggestions that they acted improperly in signing Paul Pogba from Le Havre over the summer and now the conduct of their near neighbours has also been called into question.

Rennes claim that Helan, a 17-year-old defender who graduated from France's respected Clairefontaine academy, had agreed a pre-contract with the French club before moving to Eastlands in February and that there is a strong case against Mark Hughes' side.

"Manchester City must now realise the consequences of their attitude in the Helan case as it is even more illegal than Kakuta," technical director Pierre Dreossi told The Independent.

"We have referred this to FIFA. For us it was strange to have no discussion from City and now, in the week after the FIFA declaration on Chelsea, I would hope that it will be the same thing for Manchester City.

"Kakuta signed up for just a possibility of a full contract. For Helan there was definitely one there, under the terms of the pre-contract agreement, because he had played for his country.

"Manchester United said it was not possible to negotiate with us but for City now this is dangerous, though we are not expecting a decision from FIFA for perhaps several years."

City are confident that they have not broken any rules and claim their interest in the player arose following Helan's own dispute with the French club.

"Manchester City is aware of the ongoing contractual dispute in the French Labour Courts between Jeremy Helan and Stade Rennais," read a statement. "The dispute between the player and the club pre-dates any interest from Manchester City.

"Manchester City obviously cannot comment on the case until the French Judicial Process has run its course, however we are comfortable that we have acted within the rules throughout the process and in no way induced any breach of contract by Jeremy Helan."

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