Back in 2007 Arsenal were on the verge of making a £7.5 million swoop for highly rated 24-year-old Croatian international Eduardo da Silva from Dinamo Zagreb.
Personal terms were agreed, a fee settled with his current club and a medical passed. After his impressive performances in Euro 2008 qualifying excitement was high around The Emirates that the Brazilian born goal-scorer could help fill the void left by Thierry Henry; who had departed for Barcelona the previous month.
Which is when things got complicated; because Eduardo had only recently received his Croatian citizenship so had therefore only just embarked on his international career with Hrvatska.
Therefore he had not featured in 75% of his adopted nations international appearances over the past two years. Consequently, the Home Office refused to offer him a Work Permit.
As Croatia was not part of the European Union Eduardo could not freely come to work and play in the UK without receiving this specific ‘thumbs up’ from the government and it appeared Arsenal’s pursuit was in vein.
In the end it was not; almost a month after originally announcing the transfer The Gunners successfully won their appeal on the basis of outstanding talent; and of course, were it not for Martin Taylor, his career in England may have proven that decision correct.
But why am I sitting here rambling on about an Arsenal transfer saga from six years ago?
Because as of July 1st no team will have to go through that specific ordeal ever again; which could prove music to the ears of Tottenham Hotspur?
Croatia joined the EU this Monday; becoming the first new member since Bulgaria and Romania in 2007 and the 28th nation overall.
Meaning that from now on Croatian footballers can freely travel and play anywhere across the nations in question. Well that is within reason; currently there is a restriction on the freedom of workers but with no guideline for when this will end. Unlike the measures put in by the Netherlands and Germany (where Croatian nationals must wait two years before working without a permit) the UK has not yet put a timescale on its decision.
Some countries have always been far more lenient on these issues; Italy for instance is far less stringent when it comes to countries such as Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania’s footballers coming to play on the boot peninsula; due largely to the good trade relations between the countries.
But when it comes to Croatians coming to play football in the Premier League they have so far had to be regular members of the national team such as the case when Luka Modric and Vedran Corluka made their moves or have dual nationalities; such as the part-Austrian Niko Kranjcar.
And it could have immediate effects as Tottenham look to tie down two young Croatian starlets to deals this week.
Spurs are reportedly set to complete the £17 million double swoop for young Croatian starlets Alen Halilovic and Tin Jedvaj; both considered two of the hottest prospects in Europe currently playing for Dinamo Zagreb.
The two will have to undergo a Work Permit application because of how recent the accession is but they will soon have no need to re-apply for a permit when the UK government decides on when to halt restrictions. Eventually they will have to alleviate those restrictions under the rights of nationals of the European Economic Area implemented by the Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2006.
And it is not likely to end here.
Sime Vrsaljko, also of Dinamo, has been linked with Arsenal; Stipe Perica of NK Zadar attached to Everton and Manchester City in the past while Ante Rebic of RNK Split is a one-time Spurs rumour subject who has shone at the recent Under-20 World Championships in Turkey.
And as of yesterday these players just becomeeasier to snap up for teams in the UK; regardless of any lingering restrictions on Croatian nationals freedom of movement.
While there was certainly no influx of Romanian or Bulgarian players when they joined the EU; or similar with Lithuanian or Polish; the fact remains Croatia have, by and large, been a stronger footballing nation than these previous EU newbies over the past 15 or so years.
So expect to see plenty more Croatians on our shores in the coming weeks, months and years.