In a recent interview, Kelechi Nwakali’s brother, Allwell, said Arsenal want the Nigerian to play in their first team soon.
Let’s look at how likely that is to happen.
Nwakali spent the first half of the season on loan at VVV-Venlo. After just 12 appearances in six months, Nwakali opted against staying with Venlo and returned to MVV Maastricht where he enjoyed a productive spell last season.
Before the move took place, his brother explained: “Arsenal never wanted him to be on the bench because they have their plans for him.
“FC Porto of Portugal are interested and even wanted an option to buy but they are discussing with Arsenal now. Arsenal are not interested for such opinion because they need Kelechi soon in the main team.”
So what’s stopping the Gunners from playing Nwakali in the team next season?
Currently, Nwakali still hasn’t received a permit to play in the UK. The English system works on the basis of international participation:
If you come from a country in the top 10 FIFA rankings, and you’ve played 30% of their matches in the preceding two years, they FA will grant you a permit. The same goes if you’ve played 45% for a nation ranked 11-20, 60% for a nation ranked 21-30 and 75% for one ranked 31-50 (via STV).
If a player doesn’t meet the criteria, a panel decides their fate. The panel makes the decision based on financial criteria, minutes played for their club, minutes played in continental competitions like the Europa League/Champions League, and so on.
To put it simply, if Nwakali wants a work permit, he needs to find a good loan club and play. He’s unlikely to meet the international criteria any time soon, so that’s off the table. As long as he’s playing in Europe though, he’s improving his chances.
Unless he really pushes on in the second-half of the season, personally I think he’ll struggle to get a permit in time for the next campaign. Hopefully I’m wrong.