With an underperforming former French national team player and obligated to pay his monthly salary of US$15,000 until the end of the season, even when they are benching him.

Paul-Georges Ntep, a 1.8-meter-tall striker born in 1992 in Cameroon, represented France U18s to U21s before joining the French national team in 2015.

He then transitioned to the Cameroon national team in 2018, where he played four matches and scored one goal.

Ntep joined Ho Chi Minh City FC in September 2023 with high expectations, but has made only nine appearances and netted just one goal in the current top-tier V.League 1 season.

Therefore, the club sought to terminate his contract to register a new foreign player for improved performance during the mid-season transfer window.

However, negotiations hit a deadlock as Ntep refused such contract termination, threatening a $200,000 penalty if they unilaterally terminate the agreement.

Former French national team player Paul-Georges Ntep (R) in action during the game between Ho Chi Minh City FC and Sanna Khanh Hoa FC in Ho Chi Minh City, October 22, 2023. Photo: N.K. / Tuoi Tre

Despite Ntep’s underwhelming performance, FIFA regulations prevent immediate termination, compelling the club to persist in paying his salary until the season concludes in July.

This amounts to $15,000 per month for five months, totaling $75,000 — a sum considerably less than the $200,000 penalty.

“The team have limited funds, but we signed such a high-salary foreign player at the start of the season and must honor Ntep’s salary until season-end,” a Ho Chi Minh City FC staff member explained.

“Even though Ntep performed poorly, FIFA rules preclude immediate contract termination; negotiation was our only option.”

Ho Chi Minh City FC’s head coach Phung Thanh Phuong replaced Ntep with striker Wander Luiz, a Brazilian player who had previously featured for clubs in the V.League 1, Indonesia, and Thailand, for the upcoming match in Round 11 against MerryLand Quy Nhon Binh Dinh FC.

The game takes place at Thong Nhat Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday.