I have done a couple of transfer-related videos over the last couple of weeks as we rapidly hurtle towards the January transfer window, and I guess today’s video is slightly transfer-related. I may well do some more, so if you have any transfer or particularly January transfer window-related videos, feel free to leave them in the comments.
A work permit, sometimes known as a work visa, is merely the permission to take up employment in nation you don’t have automatic citizenship in. Anyone who has ever played Football Manager will be well-aware of the pitfalls involved with work permits, and the absolute heartbreak of finding a 16-year-old wonderkid at Boca Juniors or Penarol with five star potential only to be denied a work permit even upon appeal.
Here in England, European players have no problems getting work permits due to the free movement of people afforded to member states of the European Union. Since footballers have full time employment, European players are simply considered workers and can play here without having to overcome any hurdles, although depending on the type of exit Britain has from the EU with Brexit this could obviously change. Non-EU players must apply for tier two or tier five citizenship, with permits being granted based on how much international football they have played pre-appeal, and the tier dependent on their grasp of the English language.
That’s probably enough of the legal jargon, but I thought it might make for an interesting video to take a look at several footballers who currently don’t have work permits to play in the nation of the club they are currently contracted to.
Here is my view on the 7 best footballers currently without work permits:
7. Allan – Liverpool
As I said in the introduction, those who play Football Manager will – I suspect – have found South American youngsters to be particularly problematic when it comes to obtaining work permits. Well, you are not alone, as the current Premier League leaders have experienced just the same headaches.
Allan was signed by Liverpool way back in the summer of 2015 under Brendan Rodgers, reportedly arriving at Anfield for a fee of a little over £500,000 from Internacional. The deep-lying central midfielder was just 18 at the time, and he was yet to feature for either Internacional or any of Brazil’s youth teams. Consequently, Allan wasn’t granted a work permit, and he immediately went out on-loan to Finnish side SJK.
He has since represented Brazil at under-20 and under-23 level, and he has had subsequent loan moves to Belgium, Germany, Cyprus and Brazil. It was his loan move to Eintracht Frankfurt that officials at Anfield hoped would be enough to secure him a British work permit upon his return, but the Brazilian made just four appearances for the Bundesliga side. A feisty midfielder and a good passer of the ball, Allan is now in the last year of his five-year deal with Liverpool, and he’s currently on-loan at Fluminense in his native Brazil.
6. Cucho Hernandez – Watford
Watford featured in our recent look at seven footballers who have pre-arranged January transfers already in place, with 18-year-old Brazilian forward Joao Pedro thankfully having been handed a work permit ahead of his arrival in the Premier League. One South American forward who the Hornets haven’t been so fortunate with is Juan Camilo Hernandez Suarez, who is better known as Cucho Hernandez.
Watford have a very good scouting network in South America, and Hernandez is a young forward with a big reputation in Colombia. He made his name with Deportivo Pereira, averaging a goal every other game as a 16-year-old, before joining Spanish side Granada in 2016. Granada were formerly owned by the Pozzo family who own both Udinese and Watford, and Hernandez joined Watford in 2017.
He was immediately loaned out to Spanish side Huesca, where he spent two seasons, winning promotion from the Segunda Division in his first and scoring against the likes of Barcelona, Valencia and Real Madrid in his second. This season, he was sent out on-loan to recently-promoted Mallorca, where he has made just one appearance so far this term. Hernandez made his full Colombia debut in October 2018, and he scored twice in a 3-1 defeat of Costa Rica. Surprisingly, he hasn’t been capped since, but the case for him being given a work permit would seem a fairly strong one.
5. Larry Kayode – Shakhtar Donetsk
Unlike most of the players in this seven, Larry Kayode isn’t particularly young. Aged 26, if one includes loan moves, Kayode has already made eleven moves during his career. Capped four times by Nigeria, Kayode has previously had spells at Girona, Austria Wien and Manchester City. As with Hernandez, Kayode’s common name ‘Larry’ is actually a nickname, with his full name being Olarenwaju Ayobami Kayode. He began his career in the Ivory Coast before making a name for himself in Austria and signing for Man City in 2017. The Citizens reportedly signed Kayode for £3.5 million, but sold him to Shakhtar Donetsk 12 months later for £4.5 million.
Unable to obtain a work permit in Ukraine, Kayode is currently on-loan in Turkey with Gaziantep, who won promotion to Turkey’s top flight last season. Kayode himself is a striker with rip-roaring speed, acceleration and fairly quick feet. He’s very raw, and both his finishing, ability to bring others into the game and particularly his discipline have plenty of room to improve. Kayode has developed a reputation as something of a hot-headed and dirty player, and just ten games into his loan spell in Turkey, he has already been sent off twice, having been sent off once in just five outings for Shakhtar.
4. Percy Tau – Brighton
A player who I’ve talked about a few times on this channel in the past, probably most notably in our video looking at seven footballers who are superstars in their home countries but largely unknown globally, Percy Tau is one of the great hopes of South African football. Aged 25, Tau began his career with Mamelodi Sundowns, where he scored 25 goals in 100 appearances.
A £2.8 million move to Brighton and Hove Albion followed in the summer of 2018, but Tau was denied a British work permit due to Bafana Bafana being outside the top 50 in the FIFA World Rankings. As a result, the Seagulls sent him out on-loan to Belgian second tier outfit Union SG to gain some valuable experience in the European game, and Tau certainly made his mark. A really quick, skilful and inventive footballer who can play out wide or through the middle, Tau scored 13 goals in 38 games and was named as the Proximus League Player of the Season.
Tau is both a regular and a star man for South Africa, with whom he has scored 9 goals from 24 caps, but the nation’s unspectacular showing at the African Cup of Nations means they remain well shy of FIFA’s top 50 rated national teams. Tau has gone on-loan to Club Brugge in Belgium’s top flight this season, but ranked eighth by UEFA, his performances in the Belgian First Division won’t help his chances either. For Tau to improve his chances of obtaining a British work permit, he’ll have to star for his club side in this season’s Europa League.
3. Alexis Mac Allister – Brighton
When you think of Argentinian surnames, Mac Allister probably isn’t the first one that comes to mind, but that is the surname of La Pampa-native Alexis Mac Allister who is of Irish and Scottish descent. His father Carlos Mac Allister played for Argentinos Juniors and Boca Juniors, his uncle Patricio Mac Allister played for Estudiantes and his brothers Francis and Kevin Mac Allister are both currently contracted to Argentinos Juniors.
Alexis also came through the youth ranks at Argentinos with his siblings, but in January 2019, he too was signed by Brighton & Hove Albion. The transfer set the Seagulls back a reported £6.5 million, but despite the fact that Mac Allister had played 60 games for Argentinos Juniors, no British work permit was granted.
A gifted and creative attacking midfielder, Mac Allister instead went back on-loan to Argentina, firstly to Argentinos Juniors and currently at Boca Juniors. He made his senior international debut with Argentina over the summer, and his two caps at the age of 20 would suggest that his prospects of a future work permit here in Britain are pretty good. Certainly Brighton will hope so, and Mac Allister has the potential to be an immediate hit at the Amex.
2. Henry Onyekuru – Monaco
The second Nigerian international in this seven, Henry Onyekuru has won 11 caps for Nigeria at the age of 22. A box of tricks on the left flank with quick feet and searing pace, Onyekuru was a graduate of the excellent Aspire Academy in Qatar. His first professional club were Belgian outfit Eupen, who Onyekuru joined in 2015, and after two impressive seasons he joined Everton for somewhere in the region of £7.5 million.
Now, I must admit, I’m not totally sure how Onyekuru doesn’t currently have a work permit but I will try to explain the situation. Upon signing for Everton, Onyekuru wasn’t able to obtain a British work permit, so he went back to Belgium with a loan move to Anderlecht. Onyekuru suffered an injury at Anderlecht, and he still hadn’t played in the required 75% of Nigerian fixtures over the last two years that the exceptions panel required. As a result, he went out on-loan again, this time to Galatasaray where he was excellent.
The confusion comes in because in the summer just gone, Everton gave up on obtaining a work permit for Onyekuru and sold him to Monaco for more than £11 million. Now a regular for Nigeria, Onyekuru played four games for Monaco right at the start of the season, but has been out of the picture since September. Sources claim he still doesn’t have a work permit, although I’m not sure how he played at all if that was the case, but by that eligibility he takes second in this seven for me.
1. Mario Pasalic – Chelsea
Again, this one takes a little bit of explaining, so bear with me. Mario Pasalic was born in Croatia, which is part of the EU, so he should automatically qualify as a worker under the free movement of people, right? Well, not quite. The EU has temporary exceptions in place for new members, and Croatia are the newest members of the European Union, having only been granted membership in 2013. Now, Pasalic was actually born in Germany, and it is possible that he could gain German citizenship and then be granted a British work permit as Germany are founding members of the EU. However, Pasalic has represented Croatia at virtually every youth level, he has won 12 senior caps for his country and he even made their provisional 2018 World Cup squad, so the chances of him switching his citizenship to Germany seems unlikely.
As such, for now at least, Pasalic has been denied a British work permit. Pasalic had an excellent debut campaign in Croatia with Hajduk Split in 2013-14, and was immediately snapped up by Chelsea for £3 million. Croatia have produced some excellent central and attacking midfielders in recent years, and Pasalic could be the latest in a long line. The 24-year-old is two-footed, he’s a good passer of the ball and he’s capable of chipping in with a goal or two. He has been out on-loan to Elche, Monaco, AC Milan and Spartak Moscow, but is currently in his second season on-loan with Atalanta, where he has earned rave reviews in Serie A. All things considered, Pasalic tops this seven as the best player in the world currently without a work permit.