Chelsea could be hit with a transfer embargo after a report in the London Evening Standard claims that the Blues broke FIFA regulations over the signing of Bertrand Traore.
Traore, who is now 20, played in an Under-18 friendly against Arsenal in 2011, when he was aged just 16.
However, FIFA rules prevent the international transfer of any player who is under 18 years of age, with Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona all hit with hefty transfer bans and fines in recent years for committing the same offence.
However, Chelsea have tried to present the validity of Traore’s transfer. In a statement, the club said:
“Bertrand Traore was registered by Chelsea FC in January 2014 in compliance with FA and Premier League Rules.
“Prior to that date, he was party to an option agreement which enabled the club to acquire his registration in January 2014.
“The option agreement was registered with, and approved by, both The FA and the Premier League.”
The club have also said that they believe that the Burkina Faso midfielder had an option agreement in his contract, allowing him to play in friendlies.
International transfers are only permitted for players over the age of 18 – unless the player in question meets one of three qualifying criteria.
Minors can move to a club in a different country if their parents move there for non-footballing reasons, if they are from another nation within the European Union or European Economic Area and aged between 16 and 18, or if they live within 100km of the club.
Traore is yet to make an official appearance for the Blues first team, but impressed on a loan spell at Dutch side Vitesse Arnhem last season.
It is unclear on what punishment Chelsea will receive if found guilty of breaking regulations, with FIFA stating:
“We are not in a position to comment on any investigations that are ongoing so as not to compromise the process, nor do we provide any comments as to whether or not any investigations are under way.”