South American football expert Tim Vickery, who was a guest on Sky Sports News this morning gave his verdict on Brazil U20 star Richarlison.
Watford have agreed a fee of £13m with the Fluminense for the 20-year-old, who has agreed terms on a five-year contract.
“I can’t really see the grounds he would be given a work permit,” Vickery told SSN. “I don’t think he has a European passport, he is nowhere near the senior Brazil team. He played for them at U20 level but he played in a U20 side that didn’t even qualify for the tournament eventually won by England.
“He is the kind of player that Brazilian football is producing huge numbers of at the moment. A striker from wide positions. He likes to start wide left cutting onto his right foot. He is strong, quick and scores a few goals but I would be concerned about his decision-making, I don’t think that is great and I wonder how that would adapt to quicker football in the Premier League.
“AC Milan took an interest but were put off by a lack of a European passport. Ajax were very interested as well. My query is how they would get a work permit for him. Watford could not get a work permit for Alberto Penaranda, who was one of Venezuela’s stars at the U20 World Cup, I know there is one rule for Venezuela and one for Brazil but I can’t see the basis for a work permit for him.”
On paper, this could make Richarlison’s situation tricky. On the one hand, he has scored twice for Fluminense in this year’s Copa Sudamericana, the second-tier continental competition in South America, similar to the Europa League.
However, Richarlison has yet to receive a full international call-up and his transfer value would, amid rising prices across the league, fall below anything likely to significantly influence the decision.
But sports lawyer Phil Hutchinson, of Mills and Reeve, says there is still a chance Richarlison, who has 10 Brazil Under-20 caps, could be granted a permit and be eligible for the start of the season.
“Players are meant to have a certain number of internationals in the last two years, but the FA have changed their approach slightly to take into account youth internationals,” he said.
“Richarlison would have to go through the exemptions panel as he doesn’t meet the objective criteria, where evidence gets shown to a three-man board with other critera you have to meet.
“That’s where you look at things like the transfer value and wages. Last year the sum Watford are said to be paying would put them between 50 and 75 per cent of the way up the transfer fee list, and so you would get some credit for that.
“You can get extra points if you play in the Champions League or big games in your home country, and if he’s a leading star for his team, that will make it easier.”
The object of the work permit regulations are to make sure players entering the UK from outside the EU are of high quality – and there is scope, as seen previously with Isaac Success’ successful application last year, for a convincing argument to be made on that front.
Hutchinson said: “The panel can look at his performances for the Under-20s but more generally there will be supporting statements given by players and managers he has worked with.
“If they can show he is going to be an asset to the league, they may be able to get him across. We’ve done permit work this summer with Colombians and Mexicans who didn’t necessarily meet the requisite objective requirements, but it can come down to something as small as who is on the adjudicating panel.”