Premier League: Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger wants work permit restrictions scrapped
Last Updated: 23/01/15 12:43pm
Arsene Wenger believes the FA should scrap work permit regulations, revealing they prevented Arsenal from signing Angel Di Maria at 17.
The Gunners are attempting to sign Villarreal centre-back Gabriel Paulista, but Wenger is concerned the 24-year-old does not meet the current criteria and the deal will be scuppered.
Work permit rules state a player must have played in 75 percent of his country's international matches over the previous two years - but Paulista is yet to represent Brazil.
Proposed new rules, backed by FA chairman Greg Dyke, would see any player who has cost £10million or over automatically granted permission to work in the UK, but as it stands Arsenal would need to convince the Home Office of Paulista's "exceptional talent".
We had identified Di Maria when he was 17. We saw him in an international competition and we wanted him to come here, but he went to Portugal and then to Spain. Why? Because he could not get a work permit for England.
Wenger said: "Ideally it would open completely and anyone can come in.
"We had identified Di Maria when he was 17. We saw him in an international competition and we wanted him to come here, but he went to Portugal and then to Spain. Why? Because he could not get a work permit for England.
"What does it mean if he comes into the country anyway, later on? It means you can only get him to England once he is worth a huge amount of money and who do you pay this huge amount of money to?
"It goes to a club like Real Madrid and they don't need the money. We have to be conscious of that."
FA chaiman Dyke is currently attempting to reduce the number of non-EU players in England to clear the way for more young English players to reach to the top level of the game.
But Wenger argues that only when young English players play consistently against other top players from Europe can they hope to achieve this aim.
"There are two ways to approach the solution of the academies,” Wenger said.
“The first is closing the borders of the country completely and playing with only English players. But that will kill the attractiveness of the Premier League worldwide.
"The second is to say: 'Look we have the best league in the world, so let's produce the best players in the world'. In this method it is the competitive aspect that's very important.
"One thing is for sure, if you put a young player with top level players then he has more chance to develop. If you put him with average players, he has more chance to remain average."