Wenger bemoans permit rules

Arsene Wenger has revealed that red tape stopped Arsenal from signing Ronaldinho.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has hit out at the UK's work permit policy by revealing that red tape stopped him from signing Ronaldinho.

The Highbury boss was keen to land the 25-year-old superstar from his Brazilian club Gremio five years ago.

However, his efforts to sign the now World and European Player of the Year fell through when UK Home Office rules on foreign players ruled the playmaker was not a regular in the Brazil squad at the time - thus making him ineligible for a work permit.

The situation resulted in Ronaldinho embarking on his European career at Paris Saint Germain in July 2001 before his highly-publicised £21 million move to Barcelona two years later.

Wenger stated that he would like English football to adopt a foreign-player quota system rather than allow the British government to determine a player's eligibility.

"We could have got Ronaldinho before he went to PSG," Wenger revealed.

"I met his brother, who is his agent, a long, long time before he went to PSG - when he was 20 - but we just could not get him to England because of the rules here.

"Basically, what the rule does is force you to wait to buy the player but, by then, you cannot afford him anymore.

"He had not played enough games for Brazil to get a work permit over here.

"It's a rule I don't like and it's why I think we should have a quota system instead, where the club chooses the age and nationality of the player, and you are allowed a certain number of them."

Wenger, meanwhile, may be ready to make a move in the January transfer window after being linked with Lazio defensive midfielder Ousmane Dabo.

The 28-year-old Frenchman is thought to have had a bust-up with Lazio captain Paolo Di Canio regarding his controversial salutes to the club's supporters in recent matches.

Wenger seems keen to boost his midfield in January by signing the former Monaco, Vicenza and Atalanta man, who could arrive at Highbury for a reported fee of around £1 million.

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