EXCLUSIVE: Prem clubs set for battle over FEMALE Brazil star
Published 00:01 01/04/11 By MirrorFootball
The following story is an April Fool. Enjoy...
A host of top Premier League clubs are ready to battle each other - and FIFA - in a bid to sign top WOMAN Brazilian footballer Marta Vieira da Silva.
MirrorFootball can reveal that Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea are locked in a six-way fight with Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona for the 25-year-old, who is a five-time winner of the FIFA Player of the Year award and is known as "Pele in a skirt" in Brazil.
But whichever club wins the race will then have to persuade FIFA to allow her to compete in men's competition, in what would be an astonishing first for top flight professional football.
Scouts from a raft of clubs have been watching Marta, 25, play in the Women's Professional Soccer (WPS) league in the USA and are convinced that not only could she cut it in the men's game in England, but that she could be a top star.
An insider from one of the clubs chasing her said: "She is a really exciting player with some typically-Brazilian tricks and flicks - but above all she's a goalscorer and we think she could make a big impact once she gets used to the pace and physicality of the Premier League."
Marta moved to Western New York Flash earlier this year but Albertin Montoya, her coach at previous club FC Gold Pride, is full of praise for his former charge.
“Not only is she the most talented player in the world, she’s the hardest worker,” he said. “I’ve never seen a competitor like her. She’s so creative with the ball, and that’s what draws attention, but underneath that talent, she simply has the will to be the best.”
Marta herself, who has scored 56 goals in just 55 games for Brazil and was the first ever winner of the women's Ballon d'Or, said she doesn't think she would have a problem cutting it in the men's game.
She said: "I play all the time with my male friends who are also professionals. We have the ability, we have the technique, we have the tactics.
"A lot of people say my style is patterned after Ronaldinho's," she added.
But FIFA are blocking any move and insisting the gender-separation principle in football must be maintained.
The rule was tested in 2004 when Mexican club Celaya tried to sign female player Maribel Dominguez.
FIFA's executive committee banned the move, insisting "there must be a clear separation between men's and women's football".
But representatives from the club's chasing Marta are lobbying FIFA in a bid to get them to reverse their position.
The insider said: "Our stance is, if she's good enough, why not let her play?"
In 2003, Italian team Perugia tried to sign German World Cup winner Birgit Prinz, which would have made her the first female player in Serie A, but once again they were thwarted by the governing body.
If any of the Premier League clubs are successful in signing da Silva then they have to register her by midday on April 1, 2011.