In the UK, players can sign professional contracts at 16, two years earlier than in Spain, with the result that a number of Spanish teenagers have joined Premier League teams in the past four years.
Barcelona yesterday won a £2.1 million lawsuit against Fran Merida, Arsenal's 17-year-old midfield player, which could have serious implications for other clubs in Britain.
The court in Spain ruled that Merida, who quit Barcelona after eight years in 2005 and joined Arsenal less than a year later, had infringed his contract with the Primera Liga club.
How can you breach a contract that by law you are unable to sign? Moreover, how can you be held personally liable? My hunch is that Barcelona's suit aims to get the law changed to protect their investments in young players. Nevertheless, the court's ruling seems bizarre.