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Agudelo’s Stoke City work permit denied

JuanAgudeloNewEnglandRevolution1-Crew (USATodaySports)


Juan Agudelo’s dreams of playing in the English Premier League have hit a major roadblock.

On Wednesday morning, Stoke City announced that Agudelo, who is set to join the EPL club in January, had his work-permit application denied by the United Kingdom Home Office. Stoke has no right to appeal the decision.

“We’re bitterly disappointed that the panel rejected our appeal for a work permit for Juan [Agudelo],” Stoke Chief Executive Tony Scholes told the club’s official website today.

Scholes and Stoke manager Mark Hughes went in front of an appeals panel in London on Wednesday to try and secure Agudelo’s permit. However, the panel rejected their request and did not give the club a reason for its decision.

“The criteria by which the panel should make work permit application decisions are well established and have been in place for some years and, despite recent comments to the media and discussion in the media, that criteria has not changed,” Scholes said. “We are therefore left amazed that our application for a work permit for Juan has been rejected when you compare his talent and ability to players who have been granted a work permit on appeal in the past.

“Unfortunately, under the rules of the appeal panel system we were given no explanation why the application was rejected and so can only speculate as to the reasons why we have been unsuccessful.”

According to the Premier League handbook for this season, in order for a non-EU or UK passport-holding player to qualify for a work permit with a Premier League or Championship club:

a) The player must have participated in at least 75% of his home country’s senior competitive international matches where he was available for selection during the two years preceding the date of the application.


b) The player’s National Association must be at or above 70th place in the official FIFA World Rankings when averaged over the two years preceding the date of the application. 

While the U.S. Men’s National Team is currently ranked 13th in FIFA’s World Rankings, Agudelo likely didn’t qualify for the work permit because he’s played just once for the USMNT in the last two years, coming off the bench a little more than a year ago in a 2-2 draw at Russia.

The young American forward had a successful season with the New England Revolution this season, helping the club qualify for the MLS playoffs for the first time since 2009. His contract with Major League Soccer expires in December.

Stoke signed the 20-year-old to a pre-contract earlier this year and Agudelo was expected to join the team in January when the Premier League transfer window opens.


What do you think of these developments? Disappointed in the news? Do you see Agudelo returning to MLS next season? Do you believe Stoke will loan Agudelo out until he can earn a work permit?

Share your thoughts below.


  1. Wherever he goes he needs to show that he is performing mentally and physically better than what is on the roster or on the youth teams. Europe IS NOT MLS.

  2. From what I am told by a friend who is an agent to some players in both the states and abroad (including England), the WP appeal process in a bit tricky. For a “promising youngster” who would not likely meet the strict criteria, the clubs often win on appeal based on the promise of their ability. This would explain how some of the Brazilians, etc got in recently. It would seem the board who listened to the appeal either thought Juan was too old to be considered a promising youngster, or thought he didn’t have the required talent.

    Also, for the guy who asked about people who continue to get work permits after not appearing for their national teams, it’s not that complicated. All they have to do is make a certain number of appearances over a set time for the club and they can get a renewal.

  3. Try the Bundesliga. The club will support the player. In Germany a player would need a Work Permit and a Residence Permit. However, you cannot get one without the other. Catch-22. The club will type up some documents for both government offices and all is good. Been there done that, but not as a soccer player..regular person. I think Belgium is the easiest country to get dual citizenship and Belgium and the US both recognize dual citizenship. Check out Belgium…Gooch did and he is a Belgian passport holder! Cannot say anything about Holland. Can anyone suggest the legal stuff for playing in Holland?

  4. Anyone know if a “pre-contract” with Stoke have any legal value? Or is just a verbal agreement to”officially” (legally) sign with Stoke in January? Never understood how that really works.

  5. Yep take this as a sign. Good players should stay in the league longer. Going to England to play for a bad team is not a step up. How many careers have been destroyed by England for no real reason. Think of Tim Ream. He was the future of the red bulls back line a good player who now sits the bench and is forgotten. Shea who was awesome and now does not even suit up. Agudelo should stay and go back to red bulls

    • Sure or you could think of Clint Dempsey who fought for playing time on a bad team and helped fight relegation. Then ended up scoring over 50 premier league goals. Some would say having the best career of any American in Europe.

    • Makes me wonder why Stoke and other EPL clubs can be so stupid and sign players they have no plans for. They have been a waste of time and money for the club, but mostly a waste of time for the players.

      • I agree as I saw his team’s highlights recently on Beinsport and he made that nice pass through 3 or 4 players to get the assist on the goal. That was quality we have always known from him but he’s not a durable, rugged defender required to play in the Championship.

        He’s more suited to teams like Swansea, Norwich, Blackpool, Southampton, etc… that value possession and passing instead of route 1 (Bolton, Wigan, Stoke, etc).

  6. This is probably a blessing in disguise…. Agudelo had little chance of actually playing for Stoke in the immediate future (look at Shea and Edu as examples).

    Hopefully his handlers steer him toward the Dutch league or Turkish leagues and he should get playing time and a chance to prove himself. Once he does that, then I think he’ll get attention from the bigger leagues and possibly a callup to the USMNT

  7. I am confused, how can other players who haven’t frequently played for the USMNT like Brad Friedel, Tim Ream, Maurice Edu, Eric Lichaj, and Jonathan Spector get work permits? They haven’t played in 75% of the senior matches either.

  8. A possible move for Agudelo, assuming he still wants to go to Europe, would be to a relegation threatened team in the 1. Bundesliga desperate to bolster attack in January. Or, of course, he could try to the find a team in the 2. Bundesliga, where the pay would be much higher than MLS, but not the seven figures he probably had lined up at Stoke.

  9. Should I feel bad for being happy about this?
    I don’t think he would have fit well at Stoke, and I think the physical game of the EPL would have beat him up.
    Maybe the Netherlands, France, or Portugal is in his near future?

  10. Would love to see him MLS.

    From a playing standpoint, no contest he is better off in NE. Actually playing, and on a team that scores, rather than a team that just hits long balls and prays.

  11. C’mon let’s be real…
    This is the best thing to happen to the USA’s. Most overated prospect since Adu.
    We all know he wouldn’t have even sniffed the pitch at stoke. Maybe he can go to Holland where he can actually get playing time and get coached up.

    • Didn’t agree at first and thought he was the next big thing back then. I know injuries have kept him out, but that wasn’t the only thing keeping him off the score sheet. He has some good moves, but his vision and decision-making are questionable at best.

  12. It was a pre-contract with Stoke, not a full contract. Hence he was not able to secure a work permit, his pre-contract is basically void. From Stoke City’s website it basically states that Juan will not be signing fully with Stoke.

    What this means? He is a free agent. He has a butt load of talent, huge potential, and is young at 20 years old. Oh and other European teams that show interest do not have to pay a penny for a transfer fee to get him. Germany, Holland, Denmark, Belgium all have relaxed laws on obtaining work permits. Italy and Spain could also be options, but these two countries are somewhat harder on obtaining work permits.

    Juan has plenty of options besides coming back to MLS and New England.

  13. This could actually work out in Juan’s best interest. It was always going to be a battle for minutes at Stoke. Because the appeal happened now, he has time to find a new opportunity. I hope he gets a good run of games and forces his name into NT consideration.

  14. My guess is he gets loaned out somewhere in Europe, from Stoke. Surely they knew he didn’t meet the requirements, and while they might win on appeal, they may not. So they own him, and loan him to a club elsewhere. If he wants to stay stateside, they could loan him back to MLS, but I doubt they do. Jurgen wants guys playing overseas, so my guess is he goes to Eredivisie, La Liga 2, or something like that. I like the idea of France and Belgium though. Might be best for everyone.

      • From my reading of the information, I believe it means that he HAS a contract with Stoke:

        “Players who have six months or less on an existing contract are allowed to sign pre-contract agreements (binding contracts) with new clubs, and Agudelo’s multi-year deal with Stoke City means he will be joining Geoff Cameron, Brek Shea and Maurice Edu on the Potters when the winter transfer period opens for business in January.”

        The only way it wouldn’t be binding would be if they allowed themselves an out if he didn’t get the work visa. Know their history with Geoff and Brek, I doubt it.

      • He is not property of Stoke City. A pre-contract just means that he will definitely sign for Stoke in the January window as long as he were to obtain a work permit.

        No work permit, so he is essentially a free agent.

      • He has yet to score 10 goals in a season and has not been part of the national team picture for over a year. He has also been limited in MLS by injuries. This rejection shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. He’s only 20. If he’s not going to continue in MLS (with the Revs or another team), then he’ll have to find an overseas location that is a bit more flexible when it comes to bringing in players.

  15. This does enter into some kind of catch 22 where the best way for Agudelo to get on the national team would be to get playing time in the Premier league. However he can’t get into the Premier league because he isn’t playing on the national team.
    How many Premier league clubs don’t even bother scouting the MLS because of this rule. Then if you aren’t giving more opportunities to young MLS players on the national team are you slowly any interest they could get from bigger leagues. It seems like now by the time an MLS player makes the national team they are 27 and seen as too old to be brought in by a European club.
    This is kind of why I hate when people argue for a player based only on the club they happen to be on.

    • I was thinking of something similar. I think JK made a mistake not bringing JA in for the Gold Cup. He should have been doing everything he could to get JA some caps so that he could make this move before the WC2014. Seems silly that Wondo was brought in when he was never really going to be making a move overseas. Add this to the fact that Wondo ended up not being a starter that tournament and I think it was a big oversight/mistake. I don’t necessarily believe that younger players should be given preferential treatment, but US Soccer should have anticipated this problem sooner.

    • It’s sort of like the easiest way to get a Green Card is to win a medal in the Olympics or World Cup for another country. But that then makes it impossible for you to play for the US when you get your citizenship.

  16. This guy can’t catch a break… he just starts showing what he really can do and get’s the door slammed on his momentum on a technicality…

  17. This has politics written all over it. Somewhere something has or is happening and JA is getting screwed because of it. It’s a shame.

      • But the appeals process is where the change in attitude seems to have come. Shea and Cameron and several others didn’t meet the technical requirements, but were granted a WP on appeal.

      • Agudelo has not appeared for the NT in over a year, despite being healthy for a good bit of that period AND playing well against Russia.

        When you look at Yanks who have been granted work permits thru appeal (Findley, Cameron, Ream, Rogers, Shea), only 2 of those guys are getting regular PT. Ream also sat for almost an entire season, AND his squad got demoted. Not a great success rate. Edu’s had his permit for a long time (Rangers days), but he hasn’t gotten a sniff lately either.

        It should be noted, in fairness, that Shea seems to be in Stoke’s plans since he wasn’t emergency loaned out.

        If Agudelo had gotten some caps, maybe the appeal would be stronger.

        FWIW… finding a team in another league lower than the EPL but higher than MLS might ease his transition.

    • From what I’ve gathered there has been a good amount of the English football press upset by the number of American owners in the Premier league now. Having just lost to Germany at home the day before probably didn’t help matters. There’s a push to get more English players in first team of Premier league clubs as well by the FA.

  18. If he was going to a big club in England in stead of Stoke, his lack of recent caps would not be an issue.

    Hope he comes back to MLS, he really help NE a ton this year.

  19. Absolute shame. I wonder if it’s because the FA is now putting a priority on English players and trying to stem the influx of young foreign players…

    With any luck, he might be able to get into Germany’s leagues. It’ll be a tough place to play, though. Netherlands may help him get back into an attacking mindset, though I think Belgium’s a bit more balanced in its league’s emphasis on attack and defense. France and Italy might help his technical ability, if he can find a team.

    • FWIW, that’s exactly what Joe Prince Wright at NBC thinks. re: FA stemming the influx of young foreign players. And there’s probably a grain of truth to it–if Agudelo tried to make this exact move a year ago, when Brek Shea did, he probably gets his work permit.

      • Shea didn’t meet the 75% of caps but he did have a good number and they were able to argue he missed some due to injury. Agudelo hasn’t been on the national team at all in a year.

      • His 2011 appearances were over 75%, and he could make the same argument Shea made–Agudelo missed the entire Gold Cup due to injury this year, for instance.

      • If they’re enforcing the rules now (as opposed to Ream, where they clearly didn’t), there is no argument. I imagine Stoke couldn’t apply until he ceased being a Revolution player at the end of the season. If you date the application from that point, he has ZERO “senior competitive international matches” over the past two years.

      • The whole work permit process has always had a fair amount of room for “discretion”.

        The political climate towards younger foreign players in the UK now seems to be trending towards protectionism.

        Too bad for Juan.

      • Willian and Fernandinho also did not meet 75% threshold and have no injury excuses, but they had no problem securing work permits requested by Chelsea and ManCity. Their recent appearances for Brazil are quite similar to Agudelo’s numbers. Either Stoke messed up on the application (less likely) or they are changing how strictly they enforce the rules (more likely).

    • Have you even seen him play? He has an “attacking mindset.” What he doesn’t have is durability. I don’t think he could take the pounding he.d get in the EPL or Germany. Had he’d gone to Stoke, Shea could just pack his bags. Juan is far better than Shea.

      Finally, I would not advise anybody to go to Germany after seeing how Michael Parkhurst is being wasted there.

      • Wow Don, that was hard to read and not laugh. So no player should go to Germany because Michael Parkhurst’s career has gone off the rails. I suppose we should ignore Cherundolo, Jermaine Jones, John Brooks, Fabian Johnson to validate your point as well. How would Agudelo’s arrival mean doom for Shea? They play two different positions. I’m assuming your response regarding “attacking mindset” was in reference to someone mentioning he should go to Holland. It’s a no brainer, if he can go to a Dutch club he needs to do it, we have seen a pattern of young American’s succeed there, just like we have seen a pattern of young Americans fail in the PREM.

    • Why La Liga 2? He’s definitely good enough to play for any of the La Liga teams outside of the top 5 (Getafe, Real Sociedad, Granada, etc).

      Those teams don’t have players like Agudelo who has individual skill and is a difference maker.

      • It depends on his contract with Stoke. They didn’t comment if this triggers a release. It might or they might decide they don’t want to bother with a loan or transfer and just let him go.

      • No, I think he means a loan from Stoke. If the contract is still in force then he is still their player, on their payroll even if they are not allowed to register him for any FA administered games. If he can’t get the work permit this year, then they may loan him out to a club in another country and go through the work permit application process again next year.

      • It’s quite common for a player who is signed by an english club, who doesn’t qualify for a work permit, to be loaned out to another club.

        For instance Costa Rica’s Joel Campbell didn’t qualify for a permit when he signed for Arsenal, so was subsequently loaned to FC Lorient of France and then Real Betis the following year.

        This wouldn’t be the worst thing at all for Juan Agudelo at all in my opinion. I think he’d potentially get a lot from being loaned out to a Ligue 1 or La Liga side. Look what it’s done for Bedoya

      • Thanks for the info. I had thought something like this was possible, but wasn’t sure of the details on the rules. Holland would seem to be good for him.

  20. Can another MLS team sign him or are his “rights” held by NER even though he is out of contract? He wouldn’t get put in the allocation process, would he?

    It’s a bit odd that they would reject his work permit knowing full well a contract is in place or is already complete.

    • He will officially become a free agent in January, but NER will hold “right of first refusal,” so they would have to pass on him before another MLS team can sign him.

      My guess is, though, that he makes a move to a different European league, probably the Netherlands. The Eredivisie has been very kind to Jozy and Kevin Bacon Jr., and Agudelo could easily continue in the mold of talented American strikers to break out in that league.


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