Arsene Wenger has claimed that Arsenal would have signed Angel Di Maria as a 17 year old, but work permit issues stopped them.

With Gabriel Paulista’s transfer also likely to encounter work permit issues, Arsene has asked for more lenient work permit rules in the UK. Under the present setup, if a player has not played 75 percent of his country’s international games in the previous two years and hasn’t played for a European club in that time, he will be denied a work permit by the UK. There is, of course, a commission where clubs can claim that the player is a special talent, and if the commission feel the same, then a work permit is issued. Now new rules are being put in place whereby any player costing more than 10 million pounds would be allowed to play for a Premier League club.

According to quotes on the ESPN website, Arsene 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 goes to Portugal, and from Portugal he goes to Spain. Why? Because he could not get a work permit, so that means you can only get him to England once he is worth a huge amount of money.

“What does it mean if at the end of the day he comes anyway into the country [at a later date] for a huge amount of money? Who do you pay this huge amount of money to? A club like Real Madrid, they don’t need the money. We have to be conscious of that.”

Arsene Wenger has always claimed that passports should not determine whether a player is good enough to play for the club.

“There are two ways to approach the solution of the academies,” he said. “The first is you close completely the borders of the country and you play only with English players. What will that do? 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.’

“This is a job where the competitive aspect is very important. The players all make big money, and they have to be better than the others if you want to play in the best league in the world, so let’s open it completely. At the moment, we live in a world where artificial protection is negative.

“If you want to be the best league in the world then you have to accept that you have to produce the best players in the world, so the question is how can you produce the best players?

“One thing is for sure, if you put a young player with top level players, he has more chance to develop. If you put him with average players he has more chance to remain average.

“It is the same if you have children — you put them in the top class and if they are talented they develop better than if you put them in an average class.”