Snipping the Red TapeFIFA executive Mohamed Raouraoua approached FIFA Congress in 2009, and his interests were quite clear. The president of the Algerian FA proposed abolishing the age limit which inhibited horizontal mobility for former junior internationals. This modification would permit players over the age of 21 to switch allegiances so long as they had not earned a senior cap.
A New Transfer Market?
Fascinatingly, a parallel transfer market has since emerged in the international arena. National federations began barter and haggle in attempts to convince bi-nationals of where their best options lay away from club football.
Africa has been the ultimate beneficiary as it has collected forgotten talents from various dusty European repositories. Mourad Meghni, the original ‘new Zidane’, became the first player to move; switching from France to Algeria. Younes Belhanda, Adel Taarabt, Victor Moses, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Sofiane Feghouli, and Ryad Boudebouz are but a few that have followed suit.
Impending African Cup of Nations
The African Cup of Nations tends to onset chaotic activity in regards to player nationality. Some, under pressure from their employers, are coerced into asking federations to leave them behind. Others, usually searching for a stage to bolster their portfolio, make telling hints to federations for selection. We, at SFG, decided to keep you up to date with a five potential switches that could significantly bolster African squads after the imminent African Cup of Nations:
Emmanuel Frimpong (England to Ghana)
Age: 20 years old
Club: Arsenal FC (on loan at Charlton FC)
Position: Defensive Midfielder
It’s a right shame that Frimpong’s off-field personality has overshadowed his talent on it. Most are more familiar with the young Ghanaian’s rap lyrics and twitter account than his ruthless tenacity and tough tackling.
Yet those who have seen him play week in and week out on loan will attest to his talent. He was an immediate hit at Wolverhampton Wanderers and is currently winning over Addicks supporters over at the Valley.
Supporters of the mighty Black Stars can look forward to welcoming a player who is fiercely proud and loyal. Frimpong is guaranteed to invest 100% of his capacities on the pitch. That kind of added industry and steel can only be positive reinforcement for the already talented Ghanaian midfield.
Wahbi Khazri (France to Tunisia)
Age: 21 years old
Club: SC Bastia
Position: Attacking Midfielder
Tunisia have been so pre-occupied trying to rein in expatriates (Taider and Ben Yedder) that they almost let a gem of their own escape. Wahbi Khazri was initially a vital part of the exciting Tunisian U20 set-up. But when Bastia were promoted and his performances were increasingly appreciated, Erick Mombaerts shocked many by selecting him for a French U21 squad attempting to qualify for the European Championships in Israel.
France did not qualify. Sources close to the Tunisian Federation are now claiming that Khazri has agreed to join the Carthage Eagles after the 2013 ACoN.
Massadio Haidara (France to Mali/Senegal)
Age: 20 years old
Club: AS Nancy-Lorraine
Haidara is in a peculiar situation as he is eligible to represent France, Senegal or Mali. The rampaging left-back has spent most of his youth with Les Bleus. Yet Haidara seems to prefer African football on the senior international level. Rumours crawling in cyberspace claim that the Senegalese FA have almost conceded defeat to their Eastern neighbours for Haidara’s services.
Yacine Brahimi (France to Algeria)
Age: 22 years old
Club: Granada CF
Position: Attacking midfielder
The inevitable arrival of Yacine Brahimi to the Algerian national team will be met with relief and disgust-joy and remorse. The formerly acclaimed prodigy has played for French youth at every possible level was always touted for success. Yet injuries, incompatibility and misfortune have forced the tricky midfielder to leave Rennes and reconstruct his path to success.
Somewhere along that path is the Algerian national football team. Brahimi has repeatedly rejected the advances of Les Fennecs since the 2010 World Cup. Algerians have not taken kindly to the denial, to say the least. There is also suspicion of Brahimi’s intent as he may be in it for himself. Is it convenient timing that he planned his arrival after all African Cups and right in the middle of World Cup qualifying? Many doubt it.
Hachim Mastour (Italy to Morocco)
Age: 14 years old
Club: AC Milan
Position: Attacking midfielder
Why include a 14 year old in our list?
Hicham Mastour is the ideal example of the parallel transfer market tug-of-war we earlier alluded to. Mastour is dubbed to be a freak of nature, a once in a lifetime talent. He is still too young to represent anyone in the international arena, but the Italian FA and the Moroccan FA are ready to duke it out over the ‘New Messi’.
Moroccan forums and blogs say that the federation have a verbal agreement with Mastour so he will soon play with a Moroccan youth national team. Watch this space.