Arsenal-bound Henry Onyekuru could struggle to get a work permit due to new FIFA regulations on non-EU players.

  • The Nigerian would require a work permit to play in England
  • He currently does not match any of the criteria to receive one
  • Arsenal would need to appeal in order for him to obtain one

Arsenal have reportedly agreed a fee with KAS Eupen for Nigerian forward Henry Onyekuru, but the player could struggle to obtain a work permit, according to the Evening Standard.

Under new regulations imposed by the FA, non-EU players will need to have played a certain percentage of international matches for a nation within the top 50 of FIFA’s rankings to automatically qualify for a work permit.

As Nigeria currently sit 38th in the FIFA rankings, Onyekuru would need to play 75% of Nigeria’s matches over a 24 month period to automatically qualify. Currently, he is uncapped by his country.

This means Arsenal would have to go through a points-based appeal system, as they did when they signed Mohamed Elneny in January 2016.

A player may be recommended for a work permit if they meet enough of the criteria. The criteria is as follows:

  • The value of the transfer fee is within the top 25% of fees paid by Premier League clubs in the last two windows (3 points)
  • The value of the transfer fee is within the 50th%-75th% of fees paid by Premier League clubs in the last two windows (2 points)
  • The wages being paid to the player by the applicant club is in the top 25% of the top 30 earners at the club (3 points)
  • The wages being paid to the player by the applicant club are between the 50th and 75th% of all the top 30 earners at the club (2 points)
  • The player’s current club is in a Top League and the player has played in 30% or more of the available domestic league minutes (1 point)
  • The player’s current club has played in the group stages or onwards of the Champions League, Europa League or the Copa Libertadores within the last 12 months and the player has played in 30% or more of the available domestic league minutes (1 point)

The £6.8m fee for Onyekuru wouldn’t be enough to meet any the criterion given the overspending in the Premier League. It is also unlikely Belgium will be considered a top league while KAS Eupen has not played in any European competition.

There is hope for him, however, as there can be a secondary examination based on other factors. If a player fails to achieve five points, further arguments can be made that can take extenuating circumstances such as long-term injury into account.

The signing can still be made even if Onyekuru does not qualify for a work permit – he’ll just be unable to play for Arsenal.

The player could go on loan to a club in Europe where work permits aren’t required, until the player either gains European nationality (as was the case with Carlos Vela) or qualifies for a work permit (as was the case with Joel Campbell).

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News and feature writer with a BA in Creative and Professional Writing from the University of East London. Long-time Arsenal fan also following Sevilla and local side Southend United. You can find me on Twitter @jeinchy29 talking about Arsenal and the issues affecting the English game,