The past year was incredibly successful for the young Argentine forward Julián Alvarez, who as part of the «River Plate» won the championship of Argentina, scoring 20 goals in 35 matches, and together with Argentina became the champion of South America. In a very short time, Alvarez managed to become one of the most popular young footballers of his continent among European top clubs and those who simply do not have any problems with money. Aspiration to sign Juliana showed even «Shakhtar» from Donetsk, this information was personally confirmed by the Italian coach “miners” Roberto De Dzerbi. And if “Shakhtar” failed to convince Alvarez to move to Ukraine due to the player’s unwillingness to play in a team from a non-top European championship, then at the end of the January transfer window in England, “Manchester City” announced the signing of “the River Plate” striker.
The deal cost the “citizens” 17 million pounds, and Alvarez will spend the next six months in his native Argentine club on loan. How Alvarez will show himself in Foggy Albion, and whether he will be able to become such an iconic character for “City” as Sergio Aguero, time will tell but right now we can say that the transfer of an Argentine player can mark the beginning of a new era in the transfer policy of many English clubs, both top and not. Blame the bureaucratic demands that arose in British football after the state left the European Union as a result of a procedure called Brexit.
According to the FIFA transfer rules, players who are under the age of 18 can’t move from one club to another when it comes to football players from different countries. Due to this, the transfer to “Shakhtar” of the young “Internacional” full-back Vinicius Tobias was delayed for more than six months, the purchase of which «miners» issued in the summer of 2021, but the footballer arrived in the Ukrainian club and can be officially declared for the season only in February. In Western Europe, such restrictions did not apply to clubs from countries representing the European Union, and the United Kingdom exit changed the situation for English clubs. De-jure clubs from England can no longer continue to buy the most talented teenagers from all over Europe, and new visa rules make it difficult to sign them because of their youth and football inexperience. In particular, to get permission to work in the UK, players aged 18 to 21 must play a certain number of matches for their national team, as well as be in leading roles in clubs, which will allow the buying side to get an approval and hope for the success of the operation. That is why it was much easier for “Manchester City” to sign the Argentinean Julián Alvarez, who last year played 46 matches for River Plate and 5 matches in the national team of his country, than to try to negotiate and fight with bureaucrats for the transfer of a European player of the same age.
Impact of brexit and new rules
The effects of Brexit are already leading to a kind of transfer shift in the English Premier League, where scouts of many clubs are beginning to pay much more attention to identifying young talents in the South American region. It is now much easier to obtain a work permit for people who come from there than for many European people. In the past, the top clubs of the Premier League tried to attract talented teenagers from all over Europe to their academies to try to reduce the need for serious investment in buying these players in the future, when they can realize their full potential.
However, under the new rules agreed by the Football Association, the Premier League , the English Football League and ratified by the UK Home Office, players like Cesc Fabregas and Hector Bellerin would no longer be able to move to “Arsenal”, as well as Paul Pogba from “Manchester United” could not have been pulled from “Le Havre” when he was only 16 years old. The current situation in European football is by the age of 18, the vast majority of talented players have played not enough matches for the club and the national team to qualify for a working visa in the UK, or already have significant transfer costs, a good example are young Pedri, Fati and Gavi from «Barcelona». Of course, in English football there is still an opportunity which is theoretically allowing the transfers of young European talents that do not meet the general requirements for obtaining a work permit in the country.
It remains the case that the club buyer must provide the independent commission with evidence that is sufficiently clear why in a particular case it is necessary to deviate from the norms and give the young player permission to work without complying with the relevant requirements.
This kind of exception can actually be made only if the acquired football player «is able to have a significant impact on the development of English football». As you can see, the wording is very vague and ornate, as it often happens in such cases, and therefore implies any ending of the story. That is why right now British football scouts and professionals increasingly agree that Brexit has created a new opportunity for greater integration of English clubs into the South American market. In terms of price and quality, players there are not inferior to Europeans, and getting a work visa in the UK for most of them for objective reasons is much easier.
In addition, experts also note the economic factors that are working in favor of the transfer of clubs APL to the South American market – in particular, in the last case, it’s not necessary to talk about currency conversion, which allows to save significantly on associated costs.
However, in addition to South America, English clubs will certainly be more actively looking at the championships of other countries outside the European Union. From now on, the islanders have no «EU» privileges in this matter, and therefore will consider all potential opportunities, and the economic South American vector looks the most attractive. However, in Eastern Europe, too, there are enough talents that deserve the attention of APL clubs, and the January transfer of Vitaly Mikolenko to «Everton» is a good confirmation.