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The saga rumbles on: Phelan – “Work permit issues scuppered Ljajić deal”

Posted by nickogs20 on December 4, 2009

Not to drag this sorry saga out any more than is necessary or to labour the point, but Reds assistant boss Mike Phelan has had his say on the subject of Adem Ljajić’s collapsed move to United and has arguably only further complicated an already confusing situation.

Speaking in place of Sir Alex Ferguson at this morning’s pre-West Ham press conference, Phelan was asked why the young Serbian was no longer joining the club in January and had the following to say:

“We made a tentative approach to getting a work permit and the word we got back from the Home Office was we couldn’t get that through in time to get Adem signed in January. I don’t think money is an issue.”
“The point is do you lay out money for Adem knowing there is a possibility that you might not be able to get him? As it stands Adem Ljajic won’t be coming to Old Trafford in January.”
“We have a platform that allows young players to develop and get into the first-team. We looked at Adem and he has the potential to do that.”
“But sometimes you cannot fight these things. Sometimes you can get work permits, other times you can’t. Adem fell into the latter category, which is why we made the decision.”

Now I’m sure I’m not alone in wondering why, if work permit problems were the reason for the deal being cancelled, there was no mention made of this in yesterday’s statement confirming that decision? It seems bizarre that United would call into question Ljajić’s ability and development when they could simply have attributed the decision to the UK’s frustrating employment laws, especially as Phelan seems to confirm that – contrary to the released statement yesterday – the coaching staff did indeed rate the player and consider him to have first-team potential after all!

The work permit explanation also seems surprising in itself. You have to wonder why only a ‘tentative’ approach was made, and seemingly at such a late stage, when the club have had since January to sort something out – the ‘we couldn’t get that through in time’ claim seems a bit of a cop-out frankly.

Ljajić not being immediately and smoothly granted a work permit is no surprise -the Home Office stipulate that a non-EU player must have participated in 75% of his senior national side’s matches in the previous two years, and obviously Ljajić – as an 18 year-old yet to make win a full Serbia cap – didn’t meet that criteria. That said, numerous clubs have succeeded in securing work permits for young players who don’t fulfil this criteria via the ‘exceptional talent’ route.

The excellent United Rant quote a club spokesperson as telling them that “the advice we got was that those (‘exceptional talent’) provisions have been abused a little in recent cases and, with the tougher work permit rules in other areas, there is likely to be greater focus on proper examination of what constitutes ‘exceptional'”. While this seems perfectly feasible, it’s hard to imagine a more legitimate case for special dispensation under the ‘exceptional talent’ route than a youngster coveted by numerous top European clubs, who was first-choice for his club side (the reigning champions in Serbia) and his international Under-21 side at the age of just 17, and who had Manchester United willing to pay a fee in the region of €10m for his services.

We really don’t seem any nearer to knowing the truth behind the collapse of this deal, and the complete contradiction of yesterday’s official club statement by Phelan today only adds to the sense of unease at the way United have handled this whole situation. Just to further cloud the picture, Phelan also refused to draw a line under the deal when asked if there was any chance it could be resurrected in the future. Even so, it seems certain that Adem Ljajić’s footballing future lies elsewhere now, while United will hopefully learn some serious lessons from the embarrassing way this saga has played itself out.

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15 Responses to “The saga rumbles on: Phelan – “Work permit issues scuppered Ljajić deal””

  1. harts83 said

    Puts the financial situation to bed!

  2. nickogs20 said

    If you’re happy to mindlessly and unquestioningly accept what was said, despite it totally contradicting what was said yesterday, then yes, yes it does.

    • harts83 said

      if united wanted this kid they would make more of an effort to get him. Either it be in january or in the summer or whenever. Because we’re not, or seems certain (your words) we wont be then that doesnt contradict what was said yesterday.

      Decisions needed to be made… maybe fergie couldnt guarentee him the games he needed to keep his permit valid (Like Anderson needed to) and with the talent coming through then it be wrong to pursue it.

  3. harts83 said

    he also needed to be in 25-man qouta next year!

    Another reason why he opted not to.

    Cleverley doesnt need to be.

  4. Ben said

    Harts, I thought if players were under21, they didn’t need to register in the 25 man squad… maybe that’s just the CL, though.

    • harts83 said

      Even in the CL you needed to be in the country for 2 years to be classed as a B-CLASS player (u21).

      So if ljajic did come then he would have to be in A-CLASS. Like tosic this season for example didnt get into class A and he was too old for class B so we couldnt play him at all.

      Now this applies the same for the Premier league next season. Ljajic would of had to be in 25-man squad unless he couldnt play at all. Not even in the league cup.

      To my knowledge, and i stress this…. players born in 1989 and after are safe. This includes the likes of Obertan, Cleverley, and Possebon etc. But players born in 1988 will have to be included in the 25. Players like Anderson, Jonny Evans, De laet and Hewson.

      • harts83 said

        *have to be included if they are going to play, i must add. Not saying hewson and de laet will be in it.

  5. Tom - Chicago said

    Any chance that there was something dodgy agent-wise with this and that United didn’t want to expose themselves to another Pogba situation/review?

  6. nickogs20 said

    Ljajic would have had to be on the A-List, but that would have been perfectly manageable given Macheda for one will become eligible for B-List status next season (indeed, I believe we may we able to move him to the B-List in January and register someone like Tosic in his place).

    • harts83 said

      Im not too sure it would be that easy. Don’t forget Diouf is coming aswel who is 22 i think.

      And what about any more possible signings in the future?!

      It’s complicated.

      We bought(apparently) ljajic in january. This new quota came in september but i presume united knew about this earlier but possibly not before last january.

  7. jonathan said

    I wonder if the work permit would have been harder to come by than normal if the appropriate governing body looked at what’s happened with Tosic since he came over and indicated to United that they might not grant a permit to Ljajic in part because of that.

    Nick, do you see any possibility of this transfer being taken up again in the summer if Ljajic goes with Serbia to the WC? Even if he doesn’t play? Or do you think the deal is dead in the water? All this assuming it’s mostly a work permit issue.

  8. nickogs20 said

    I’d be surprised if the deal was resurrected, Partizan understandably seem pretty pissed off and I’d imagine Ljajic isn’t feeling particularly fond of Manchester United now. It wouldn’t surprise me if another club moves for him in the coming transfer window, given the competition we faced to sign him in the first place.

  9. Constrasting msg between Phelan’ comment and issued statement by the club citing other players in the system.

    Either they dont like the player’s development anymore or financial problem is present.

  10. mikejones said

    The contradicting statement makes the givens reasons less likely to be the truth. This is making me worry about the financial situation.

  11. NicoQB said

    Work permit difficulties backed in statement by Llajic himself. Whether the club told him to say so to keep a semblance of face..

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