According to a report in The Telegraph today, Liverpool have put in an improved £8m bid for the Brazilian attacker, but there's a barrier in the way that needs to be resolved:
"Coutinho will require a work permit to seal a move to the Premier League".
Players without a work permit are ineligible to play in the Premier League or for any other member of the Football League.
To have the work permit approved:
* The player must have appeared in at least 75 percent of his national team's competitive A matches during the previous two years. If this didn't happen because of injury, the club must provide written evidence documenting the player's injury history.
* The national team must be ranked in the top 70 in the official FIFA world soccer rankings.
Coutinho has made only one senior appearance for the Brazil national team (back in 2010), so he immediately fails on that front; and with only 37 appearances for Inter, he also doesn't have great experience at club level.
The denial of work permits is a regular occurrence; indeed, at this time last year, QPR were on the verge of signing Brazilian attacker Henrique, but club couldn't secure a work permit for the player, mainly due to the fact he failed the national team requirement.
Former Liverpool midfielder Sebastian Leto also fell foul of the work permit rules, and he had to leave Anfield as a result.
Hopefully, Liverpool will have thought this through, but what's the point of spending £8m on a player if he can't play and/or there is uncertainty over whether he'll be able to play at some point in the future?
If the club is splashing out in the hope that a work permit will be granted (i.e. through the 'exceptional talent' loophole), then it's a huge gamble.
The club - along with the Brazilian FA - will have to prove that Coutinho is an 'exceptional talent', and just being Brazilian isn't enough (!)
What happens if the work permit is denied? Is Coutinho an exceptional talent, and if so, why?
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