Foreign work permits mean clubs are missing out on bargains.
Football agent Barry McIntosh has told British clubs that they are missing out on a wealth of talent from South America because of the red tape surrounding work permit issues is too troublesome to negotiate, the Mirror reports.
Estudiantes striker Duvan Zapata looks likely to be the latest casualty to the home office as his move to West Ham United fell through, which could cause him to head to mainland Europe instead of trying his luck again at getting into the Premier League.
Barry McIntosh has previously overseen deals involving Mauro Zarate, Christian Benitez and Andres D’Alessandro by helping bring them into the Premier League on loan, and the South American expert has said that there would be many more if it weren’t for the stringent work permit rules.
Radamel Falcao, Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria, James Rodriguez, Oscar Cardozo, Juan Manuel Vargas and Nicolas Gaitan are just a few of the names he also believes he could have helped into the Uk.
“Ryan Giggs would not have got a work permit at Manchester United if Wales was not part of the UK,” he said.
“Lionel Messi as precocious a talent as he is, wouldn’t have got a work permit and fulfilled the criteria to come to England when he joined Barcelona as a kid.
“Realistically you have to be an average of 25-26 years old to get to the point to qualify for a top international team to get the required games to get a work permit here.
“Therefore it is hard for the likes of Zapata now and other special talents who have not come to England previously.
“When they do qualify is once they established international players who are £20million plus players.
“The other ones that do arrive, only come from having EU passports connected to their family.
“The work permit authorities will theoretically make exceptions to allow ‘special talent’ in.
“But they need to realise to make it as a young foreign player in Argentina for example you do need to be a special talent.
“A major contributor to the whole Argentinian economy is developing their own players and exporting them.
“In Argentina about 92 per cent of all players are Argentinian. About 1 per cent are from Colombia and 3 per cent from Uruguay.
“The rest are from Peru or other South American countries – excluding Brazil due to the rivalry between the countries.
“So if a Colombian like Falcao or Peruvian like Vargas or Paraguayan such as Cardoza is deemed better that what they have in Argentina, that is the first true indicator that the player is a special talent.
“And as well as work permits for footballers needing to be more flexible here in England, I think managers need to be more open-minded about who they used to bring players in.
“A level playing field where all agents are welcomed by a manager as opposed to their preferential agents would also help.
“I remember when I was in Argentina scouting and I recommended Aguero to Sir Alex’s brother Martin Ferguson to take him to Manchester United.
“Martin went and saw him play for Independiente against Huracan and Aguero was available for Euros 3.5million as a 17-year-old.
“Aguero has gone on to play for Atletico Madrid and is now at Man City which is ironic.
“Angel Di Maria is another I tried to take to England for less than Euros 5m before he went to Benfica.
“James Rodgriquez, who recently joined Monaco, I tried to take to Alex McLeish at Birmingham and Harry Redknapp at Tottenham and Celtic for Euros 3.5m.
“I could see he was going to be an excellent talent.
“He ended up going to Porto for around Euros 9.5m and subsequently he has gone to Monaco.
“Radamel Falcao, I saw him playing wide right for River Plate back in 2008.
“I identified if this boy was given a chance upfront he would do well.
“The price was Euros 2.5milion and I tried to take him to Birmingham in January 2008.
“In the end he is the one that put Andre Villas Boas on the map and won the Portuguese league with Porto and the Europa League.
“I also suggested Euros 1.75m for Oscar Cardozo and tried to persuade Harry to get him for Portsmouth when he was playing for Old Newell’s Boys.
“Juan Manuel Vargas I tried to take him to Stuart Pearce at Man City for less than Euros 2million.
“Portsmouth were also interested but he then ended up going to Fiorentina for Euros 16million.
“So there are lots of great players who I recommended to Premier League or Championship clubs when they were very cheap and little known.
“They were missed opportunities for various reasons, but hopefully Zapata won’t be.”