Those and many others are the comments and questions I have received time and again since last January, regarding the news I broke back then stating that Matias Suarez (Anderlecht) and Lewis Holtby (Schalke04) have signed pre contracts with Arsenal to join them this summer.
I have done my best to follow and explain the step by step of where the two players were at, what was going on at each particular time, nearly on a monthly basis.
Football has those things, not everything moves at the speed we would like.
In order to update you once again, we have done lots of work getting close the players’ camps and trying to get inside information from the clubs.
When it comes to work permit and European residency, Matias Suarez has done everything right. He applied and presented all the required paperwork to Belgian authorities on time (he could only apply for Belgian residency after 3 years in the country, he applied for it after 3 and a half years)
The voice inside the offices say that if they knew he was applying for the paperwork to stay in Belgium and try to live in the country, they would have issued the paperwork a while ago.
However, as the intentions are to become European and move big financial assets, out of the country, the application has been delayed and slowed down.
That is bad news, as he does not hold any European passport and was counting on getting round it by getting Belgian residency.
There are other ways to try to get him into the EPL.
The club must apply for a work permit. In first instance, a permit will be denied as he has not played enough international football for his country (or any) to make him eligible for it.
However an appeal to an independent panel (the second stage of trying to get work permits) has a big chance of being successful.
Independent panels are softer touches and more realistic when it comes to analysing the reasons of why any particular player has not played international football (in Suarez’ case is because the ones ahead of him are names like Messi, Aguero, Higuain, Tevez and Lavezzi) and they are also better judges of what they can bring to the English game.
Historically, independent panels have overturned a huge percentage of applications that have been turned down in the first place.
The problem with applying for the work permit or to the panel, in this case is, that there are no guarantees that is going to be granted, and the player has been warned that it could influence the decision for his Belgian residency if he applies while they are still reviewing his paperwork.
Complicated, too complicated. The player does not want to risk having the 2 applications turned down, as he knows that getting into the Argentina National team will be a very difficult task. And if England does not give him a work permit, he may never get one. So he is stalling on that front to wait for his Belgian (European) passport.
Arsenal are prepared to apply for the work permit, they have all that is required, ready to go, but can’t do so without Matias’ permission.
So at this point the chances are that he could end up either another year at Anderlecht (on loan if Arsenal still wants to make the pre-contract count), or they could invoke the clause on the pre contract regarding the work permit to get out of it, leaving Suarez free to join Bayern Munich (which is the plan B)
Belgium are doing what is right for them as a country. The guy has been there for all this time, made a lot of money there, has investments in the country. Granting him the residency for him to immediately take all that he has earned away from Belgium, does not set well with the authorities.
He has not been denied the residency, but they have gone back to him asking to clarify many points of his application.
With regards to Holtby, the situation is straight forward.
The big clause of the pre contract was his fitness. When Arsenal wanted to sign him back in January, he was only just coming back from injury, and has had a history of a few niggling ones before that as well.
Being that he is only 21 years old (22 in September) was a worrying issue for Arsenal.
He fits perfectly within the style of Arsene Wenger and if fit and in top condition the French manager would have signed him in January.
His ability is not under discussion (he has played for Germany at every youth level, and has two full caps in the senior team too)
But his fitness is and remains an issue in order to turn the pre contract into a valid one.
The assessment made by the London club at the end of the Bundesliga campaign did not return very encouraging results.
They spoke to the doctor at Schalke, to the Germany Manager and his team and the conclusions between that and tests that took place with the player himself were that he was not fit enough for either (German or English leagues) to hold 90 minutes every game.
If he played a full game one week, his body, at this stage, will not cope with a full 90 minutes a week later (in fact he missed out on Euro 2012 due to injury again)
Due to the overwhelming evidence against his fitness and condition, Arsenal is within their right to cancel the validity of the pre-contract.
Have they done that yet? We believe they have not, but we also believe they will do so before the beginning of the season, and the player will remain at Schalke one more term.
Here then you have the update, with detailed information, for you to take in.
On this subject i have answered all the questions that you have thrown at me, so i am closing the comments and the issue.