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Wenger worries about work permits, says England’s policies cost him 17-year-old Di Maria

Arsene Wenger

Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger points as he watches his team play against Manchester City during their English Community Shield soccer match at Wembley Stadium in London, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)


Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger knows how to play the media game, so take this with a grain of salt.

Concerned that his club may fail in its attempts to sign Villarreal center back Gabriel Paulista due to England’s stringent policy against foreigners -- See: Agudelo, Juan -- Wenger has lashed out with a warning shot.

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He says he could’ve had Angel Di Maria well before Manchester United landed him for boatloads of dough this summer.

From Sky Sports:

“We had identified Di Maria when he was 17. We saw him in an international competition and we wanted him to come here, but he went to Portugal and then to Spain. Why? Because he could not get a work permit for England.

“What does it mean if he comes into the country anyway, later on? It means you can only get him to England once he is worth a huge amount of money and who do you pay this huge amount of money to?

“It goes to a club like Real Madrid and they don’t need the money. We have to be conscious of that.”

At 17, Di Maria was with Argentina’s Rosario Central, and he didn’t move to Portugal’s Benfica until he was 19 (He went to Real Madrid at 22 and is now 26). Again, take it for what it’s worth.

Wenger goes on to discuss how England’s doing it wrong, as Football Association chairman Greg Dyke is trying to bring more English players onto its Premier League rosters.

And there’s something to be said for that. If you want your domestic league to have the best teams in the world, it needs to have the best players in the world. With respect to the Three Lions, England isn’t exactly going gangbusters on the rest of the world, which leads us to our “chicken or the egg” ordeal.

Is England not winning European and international competitions because its players aren’t good enough? Or are England’s players not good enough because they are getting enough chances domestically?

Follow @NicholasMendola