Juventus’ pursuit of Kaio Jorge took a twist late on Thursday.
In an interview with Sky Sport Italia (h/t Football Italia), Santos representative Sergio Canozzi claimed that Jorge’s contract with the Brazilian club runs through December 2023, not December 2021 as has been understood. If that were the case, the pre-contract agreement that Juventus reportedly signed earlier in the week would not be valid. Canozzi went on to say that Santos was in contact with Juve sporting director Federico Cherubini and that Santos would consider selling the 19-year-old starlet for €15 million.
There is, however, a problem with Canozzi’s claim.
Jorge signed his first professional contract with Santos in 2018, when he was 16 years old. FIFA regulations prohibit minors from signing contracts of more than three years. Canozzi’s claim would mean the contract he signed at 16 was five years long. Santos claim that the Brazilian federation does allow for minors to sign longer deals, and that FIFA will respect the decision of the local federation.
It’s likely that this will be the subject of a legal battle in the near future. Jorge clearly thinks it’s time for him to make the jump and come to Europe, Italy specifically. If Santos, who were clearly upset at the situation as developed this week, try to hold him up by trying to invoke some kind of longer contract, he and his agent will almost certainly challenge it.
This is a pretty bold move by Santos, because if they’re wrong about FIFA, they’ve outright admitted to flagrantly violating the rules. Given the way FIFA have punished clubs for violating rules relating to the signing of young players before, from giants like Chelsea and La Liga’s big three to minnows like Spezia, who were handed a two year transfer ban earlier this month for alleged violations of rules involving youth players from Nigeria, the Brazilian giants are very much playing with fire here. Should FIFA rule against them, they could be in for similarly serious sanctions.
What’s certain is that Juventus won’t pony up a €15 million fee, at least not while the Manuel Locatelli deal, which clearly has priority, is outstanding. It also looks like any hope of Jorge getting to Juve for the beginning of the season has clearly been scuppered until this all gets sorted out.
Watch this space for updates.