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Shock as Juan Agudelo’s work permit appeal rejected, Stoke City move in ruins

Nov 20, 2013, 10:19 AM EDT


On Wednesday Stoke City announced that a fourth U.S. international will not be joining the Premier League side, as Juan Agudelo’s work permit appeal has been shockingly turned down.

With that decision, which Stoke can not appeal against, Agudelo’s transfer to the Potters will almost certainly be cancelled and the New England Revolution forward is now left in limbo.

Agudelo, 20, seemed to be on his way to joining the Potters on January 1 when his contract with Major League Soccer expires and everything was signed and sealed back in August for the USMNT youngster to shine on the big stage in England.

Now, that’s all ended. The reason why Stoke had to appeal on Agudelo’s behalf was because he has not played in 75 percent of national team games over the last two years. In England a work permit can be granted straight away for a player outside the EU, if they have played in that number of games for their national team and their side is ranked in the top 70.

Stoke City’s Chief Executive Tony Scholes was left flabbergasted by the decision, as he and manager Mark Hughes made their case to a panel in London today but proved unsuccessful.

“We’re bitterly disappointed that the panel rejected our appeal for a work permit for Juan,” Scholes said. “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. 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.”

He has a point. But it is worth noting that new FA Chairman Greg Dyke wanted to crack down on the number of young foreign players arriving in the Premier League and it seems as though Agudelo is one of the first victims of the new tough stance on foreign imports. Just recently I was chatting with both Tim Ream and Geoff Cameron who spoke about their excitement in welcoming Agudelo into the America fraternity plying their trade in England.

source: Getty Images

What next for Juan Agudelo? As Stoke move collapses to leave USMNT youngster in limbo.

Nobody saw this coming. Let’s face it, so many other players with far less talent and potential have been granted work permits to play in the UK after not meeting the requirements. In my opinion Agudelo offers more, long-term, than the likes of Brek Shea, Ream and maybe even Cameron.

(MORE: Juan Agudelo signs for Stoke City, will join Premier League in January)

The fact that a player that has scored for the USA against Argentina as a teenager and has been long touted as one of the most promising talents in U.S. soccer isn’t worthwhile to make an exception for and would not add something positive to the Premier League is preposterous. The worst thing about it is that Stoke can’t appeal against the decision and were given no explanation as to why Agudelo’s work permit appeal was turned down.

“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,” Scholes continued.

Agudelo will be left shocked and bemused that this move has fallen through and the young strikers career moves just seem to be getting worse as times goes by.

Having left the New York Red Bulls after coming through their academy, Agudelo joined Chivas USA in 2012 and was traded in a matter of months after El Chelis regime gave him the chop. At New England he scored regularly but was often injured and with this move to Stoke lined up back in August, understandably the Revs’ planned for next season without Agudelo which saw his appearances limited towards the end of the season.

What next for Agudelo? A move abroad may happen elsewhere in Europe where employment laws aren’t as strict as the UK or perhaps he will remain in MLS. It seems as though he may have burnt his bridges with New England, so yet another move for the 20-year -old will be on the agenda.

What a mess.

  1. kirielson - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:03 AM

    First off, it wasn’t the Chelis regime that wanted him gone, it was Chivas FO.
    Second, I assume he’ll either sign with MLS or a La Liga team will get him.

  2. bostonredsoccer - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    Why do you say he has “burnt his bridges” with New England? Though he was losing out on a lot of money (hypothetically, it seems now) by not getting an early release to Stoke, he didn’t seem to pout much (not like Dempsey & Twellman did when their transfers were held up by the Revs). He may have said some things behind the scenes (which maybe you are privy to), but he played out his contract in good faith, or so it appears.

    • bobinkc - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:23 PM

      After watching a number of MLS teams getting burnt by players trying to move away after being provided with every opportunity to play, become better, and be stars in the US, I think many US teams are going to be really shy about hiring anyone whose professed desire is to leave.

  3. dfstell - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    Interesting. There have been a few guys (like Ream) over the last few years where I wondered, “How in the world does that guy qualify for a work permit?” I just assumed that they were basically granting them to whoever asked and weren’t really paying attention to the rules.

    It’s a bummer for Agudelo. Although, I guess he is now a free agent and a player of his age/talent should be able to find work.

  4. stoehrst - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    I have seen no evidence to suggest that any “bridges” were “burnt” in New England. He might not return due to money considerations, but saying that bridges were burnt is quite the assumption.

  5. danielofthedale - Nov 20, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    think in the long term this could work out better for Juan. The EPL is a place for more finished or polished products. Juan has loads of talent and might be better now than Shea but like Shean he is far from the final product. I thinking moving to a league in Germany, Holland, Belgium, France would be better. It seems like they do a better job of working with raw talent.

    If he stays in MLS I hope he can stay in NE. That would be a fun team to watch with him and Diego up to if they could work together. I just hope he does not rush into a has choice to get to Europe

  6. bmac2483 - Nov 20, 2013 at 12:23 PM

    I’m also going to jump on the “burnt his bridges” bandwagon. Do you have sources for this, or are you just throwing stuff out there?
    Also, how do you qualify “appearances limited towards the end of the season”? He played a total of 349 minutes out of a possible 360 minutes over the last 4 matches of the regular season. He then went on to play the full 90 in leg 1 of the playoff and the full 120 in leg 2.

  7. lavatomy - Nov 20, 2013 at 1:44 PM

    Nice, he definitely dodge a bullet there. Hopefully he’ll move to La Liga or Seria A. His technical abilities would shine in those leagues. Portugal, Holland or France too.

  8. pauloblitzz - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:02 PM

    Not sure where Joe Prince Wright/Wrong got the idea that he burnt his bridges to NE but he’s wrong! Juan is more than welcome back with the Revolution, more than welcome!

  9. tylerbetts - Nov 20, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    Good. I never liked Stoke as a destination for him. The EPL in general is a bad place to try to develop as a young American, and stoke in particular for a young striker.

    Now, a place like A.Z. … well, that would be great.

    • bear06 - Nov 23, 2013 at 8:02 PM

      AZ is stacked with forwards.

  10. hildezero - Nov 20, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    Damn. It seems like Agudelo always has bad luck. This guy is a hard worker and dedicated. He tries to prove everyone wrong. Like NYRB. Chivas didn’t wanted him. Then he goes to a young club and leads them to the playoffs. The picture of him with his hands on his head just makes me feel even more bad for him. Can you imagine how he’s feeling right now? I think he’ll still go to Europe, because he wants to. I’ve seen an interview of him with Univision when he was in NYRB. His mom was so proud of him, that she even said that when he goes to Europe, she’s going.

  11. valiantdraws - Nov 20, 2013 at 5:05 PM

    Once again, Joe Prince-Wright proves why he’s the dodgiest writer in PST. Ill grasp of fact, all over the place. It was bad enough that he directly addressed Bob Bradley personally in a piece about him, but he presents yet more “facts” without evidence.

    I, for one, am tired of the complete lack of quality writing coming from him.

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