£10 million offer for Villareal's Gabriel Paulista could help Arsenal offset work permit issues
As we draw nearer and nearer to the potential signing of Villareal's Gabriel Paulista, nagging questions undermine the optimism we're supposed to feel. After all, we've been burned before - Vela. Campbell. Gilberto. Heck, toss in Källström, and it's easy to see how Gooners might look this potential gift-horse in the mouth.
After all, Gabriel has fallen far short of the FA work permit requirement that stipulates that a player has to have played 75% or more of his country's matches in the last two years—a quick check of the maths reveals that Gabriel has played in 0% of Brazil's matches, just a hair less than required. This raises the prospect of an unsavory appeal. Then again, money talks, and we do have a bit to spend if we're willing to put our money where our mouths are.
New FA proposals could help ease work permit issues
Here's the apparent rub: new FA proposals that could take effect this summer would allow any player purchased for a fee of at least £10 million to get a work permit, setting aside that troublesome 75% rule mentioned above. Therefore, if we're serious about signing this guy, we might as well just set aside our initial offer of £6 million and just go to ten. Or eleven.
Villareal, doing quite well thanks in part to Gabriel's services, have no interest in selling him for less than his reported £15.25 million release clause, but they have to reconcile this with realizing that they're bound to lose him in the summer anyway. With these new work-permit regulations on the horizon, it might just be in the interest of both clubs to confirm a deal now rather than later.
Gabriel is unlikely to magically increase his rate of appearances for Brazil from 0% to 75% before the summer transfer window, and £10 million looks to be a convenient compromise price-point between our initial bid of £6 million and that £15.25 million release clause. If we're serious about our interests (and addressing our needs), we should set aside the £6 million bid and rise, however grudgingly in the spirit of haggling, to £10 million or £11 million.
We get the player we need at a price that makes sense, and Villareal get a transfer fee that they can reinvest in reinforcements. If the financials don't seduce you, there is the issue of precedent.
Enough existing precedent to appeal current requirements
West Brom managed to sign Brown Ideye for £10 million this summer, despite the Nigerian failing to meet the 75% threshold, and Leicester City signed Andrej Kramaric just a few days ago for £9.5 million despite the Croatian's similar failure. Not placated yet? Chelsea pulled off the signing of Willian in 2013, even though, that Brazilian has also failed to make the requisite number of international appearances. If our pursuit of Gabriel is sincere, then, there's ample precedent for appealing the current work-permit requirements.
Even if Gabriel hasn't made a single international appearance, Arsenal could easily make the claim that playing for a La Liga club vying for Champions League qualification does more to confirm that he is a "player of the highest calibre" and is "able to contribute significantly to the development of the game at the top level in England" than does the arbitrary number of appearances he might have made at the international level.
Let's face it: breaking into the Brazil squad is a lot harder than breaking into, say, the Costa Rica squad (sorry, Joel). There are many, many more players vying for a spot in the Seleção than there are vying for a spot in, to cite a random example, the Bia?o-czerwoni (sorry, Krystian...).
On its face, whatever the transfer fee the two clubs might agree to, the success rate of appeals for a work-permit stands at 79%. We could bet the ranch on an appeal, or we could simply secure Gabriel for £10 million, more or less. In a transfer-window in which we seem to have £20 million to spend, it's hard to imagine us getting more of a player for fewer pounds.
Would Gabriel be a saviour? Unlikely. Would he be good enough to give Koscielny or Mertesacker just enough rest to preserve that pairing? Far more likely. His name might not sound as sexy as Hummels or Schneiderlin, Khedira or Carvalho, but his contributions might be every bit as vital. When we're looking to maximize the return on our investment in a winter transfer window, £10 million for an established centre-back might end up as pretty shrewd business.