LONDON - The Associated Press
BOSS: Manchester City manager Mark Hughes gives instructions to his team. AP photo
FIFA is investigating Manchester City over claims by French club Rennes it illegally poached a teenager.
The 17-year-old defender Jeremy Helan was signed in February after an "illegal" approach, according to Rennes, although City insisted Tuesday that it has acted within the rules and didn't induce Helan to breach his contract.
"There is a case pending with FIFA's Player Status Department involving Jeremy Helan, Stade Rennais FC and Manchester City," FIFA said in a statement.
The case intensifies the spotlight on the pursuit of young talent by English clubs a week after FIFA banned Chelsea from signing players until Jan. 2011 for inducing Gael Kakuta to break his contract with Lens and move to Stamford Bridge.
World football's governing body could also be receiving a complaint about Manchester United from another French side, Le Havre, which claims 16-year-old Paul Pogba was "stolen" when under contract. United denies the allegations.
Rennes maintained it has a strong case against City, which is one of the world's richest clubs since being bought a year ago by Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour.
"Manchester City must now realize the consequences of their attitude in the Helan case as it is even more illegal than Kakuta," Rennes technical director Pierre Dreossi told The Independent newspaper. "In the week after the FIFA declaration on Chelsea, I would hope that it will be the same thing for Manchester City."