A semi-professional French team that runs on a shoestring has hit the lottery when Anthony Martial transferred to Manchester United thanks to FIFA rules about the development of youth players.
The 19-year-old moved from Monaco to Old Trafford on Deadline Day this summer, becoming the most expensive teenager in European soccer history in the process.
CO Les Ulis, a team that plays in the sixth tier of French soccer, developed Martial between the ages of six and 14, earning them a total of five years of FIFA developmental pay that amounts to 0.75% of his $55 million transfer fee, or about $410,000.
“It will cover up to four or five years of our budget,” coach Mamadou Niakate told The Associated Press. “We are always struggling to make ends meet. This money will help us secure existing jobs and renew our equipment. At the football school, we’ve been using the same footballs and training shirts over the past four years.”
Founded in 1977, this isn’t the first time Les Ulis has seen a player go on to do big things. The French club also boasts the names of Thierry Henry and Patrice Evra as alumni, but with transfer fees having absolutely exploded in recent history, this is sure to be an injection of funds unlike any they’ve seen in the past. Niakate confirmed that Evra brought them about $43,000, nowhere near what they just received.
Payments like this are vastly important to keeping lower tier clubs going, and they are essential to the development of countless players around the world when they are first beginning their careers at a young age. In fact, Martial’s older brother Dorian is currently learning under Niakate at a higher level.
“Anthony was really above the rest,” Niakate said. “On the very first day he registered with us, I could tell he had something special. But that’s still a long way from saying he would one day join United for 80 million euros.”