PAUL POGBA is reportedly hoping to leave Manchester United in the summer with one Fifa ruling potentially opening the way for a controversial departure.
Article 17 in the governing body’s rulebook states that players can buy out the remaining years of their contract after three seasons with a club.
The first three years of a contract are known as the “protected period” under Fifa law, after which a player can terminate the agreement for a fee.
This happened for the first time in 2006 when Hearts defender Andy Webster cited Article 17 to leave Hearts for Wigan.
Although the Scottish club sought £5million, the figure was initially estimated to be closer to £250,000 based on the salary expectations left on Webster’s contract.
A Fifa resolution verdict named a fee of £625,000 but a Court of Arbitration for Sport clarification reduced it to £150,000.
That sparked fears that several players would suddenly invoke the ruling in the same way the now-commonplace Bosman law allows players to leave once their contract expires.
And L’Equipe report on Pogba having it at his disposal once the current season ends.
While it is not said to be contemplated by the midfielder as of yet, it could be a last resort if United refuse to sanction a sale to Real Madrid or Juventus.
Reports out of Spain insist that Los Blancos is the desired destination for Pogba, 27.
A significant issue with invoking Article 17 is the actual cost of the deal can vary wildly.
L’Equipe estimate it to be around £50million with the Frenchman’s contract set to end in June 2021 – far less than a prospective transfer fee negotiated with United.
However the Red Devils still hold an option to automatically extend that by a further 12 months, ballooning the salary expectations that would be taken into account when a fee is decided by tribunal.
Furthermore, the example of Brazilian midfielder Matuzalem is one to heed with Real Zaragoza forced to pay Shakhtar Donetsk £10.5million in 2008 when hoping to hand over only £6m, after the verdict took into account other factors such as the cost of a replacement.
Sports lawyer Juan de Dios Crespo told ESPN: “It’s difficult for clubs, players and agents to pre-prepare a case and know a player is going to be worth X or Y.
“There is no fixed criteria. That’s what FIFA wants – they can avoid a situation where a player or an agent can end a contract knowing how much they will have to pay to move elsewhere.”
In addition, there is something of an unwritten rule about taking up this method when it comes to major transfers.
Barcelona are reportedly considering launching a similar bid for Neymar when the season ends.
Should Paris Saint-Germain shun any negotiations with the Catalan giants, and the coronavirus pandemic not completely shred their finances, then ESPN detail an optimistic swoop to seal their former star’s return.