The issue of MLS teams losing their brightest
prospects from their academy programs to European clubs without a transfer fee is becoming a bigger problem, but they aren't alone.
It is a particular problem for French clubs, considered the top producers of young talent in Europe. While there was for many years a non-aggression pact among French clubs not to swipe young players from rival academies, French youth stars have for years been targeted by clubs in other European countries.
In a famous case, Paul Pogba left Le Havre for Manchester United (for his first stay) when he was 16. Le Havre sued for
breach of contract but lost -- the teams later settled.
For Paris St. Germain, which sits on perhaps the greatest goldmine of soccer talent in the city's banlieues, it has been a big problem, but it is starting to fight back.
In recent years, PSG lost teenage stars Moussa Dembele to Fulham (now at Lyon after starring at Celtic), Kingsley Coman to Juventus (now at Bayern Munich) and Dan-Axel Zagadou to Borussia Dortmund on free transfers.
Unlike MLS teams, who lose players who are free to move because they haven't signed pro contracts, French clubs lose players when they turn 18 after signing three-year "aspirant" contracts and leave after turning down pro contracts.
L'Equipe reported that PSG has introduced a carrot-and-stick approach to lock down players from its loaded youth system that includes U.S. international Tim Weah.
PSG is offering players long-term contracts -- three years guaranteed, plus two option years -- to sign. Contracts -- salary and signing bonuses -- begin at about $500,000 over the term of the agreement. Defender Stanley Nsoki, 19, was signed to his first pro contract in a deal worth 3 million euros ($3.5 million).
But PSG is also playing hard ball with wavering prospects. L'Equipe described the approach as "tu ne signes pas, tu ne joues pas" ("you don't sign, you don't play").
To keep out agents, PSG has tightened access to the academy fields at its Camp des Loges. And it has established a blacklist, according to the French sports daily, of agents who have moved players abroad and whom it won't deal with.