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Chelsea's Mario Pasalic will head out on loan

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Paul Gilham

Given that the Mario Pasalic deal, originally agreed upon back in January, was made official today, it should be noted that the nineteen-year-old will be heading out on loan this season. Pasalic does not automatically qualify for an English work permit, and is unlikely to be successful on appeal. As such, a loan is the only option.

Citizens of the European Union are usually automatically eligible to work in any EU country, but there are temporary exceptions to the principle of free movement when the EU accepts a new country.

While Pasalic was born in Germany, that does not, in and of itself, confer citizenship rights under German nationality law. At least one of Pasalic's parents would have had to have lived in Germany for at least eight years prior to Pasalic's birth in order for him to automatically qualify for German citizenship. Assuming Pasalic's parents did not meet this requirement, Pasalic could have earned German citizenship had his parents filed the necessary paperwork before January 2000 (when Pasalic was four years old). However, then he would have to give up his Croatian citizenship before he turns 23. It's not particularly likely that Pasalic even has this option, but as Pasalic has played football for Croatia at just about every level on the youth sides and clearly has designs on playing for the senior international side (he was named to the provisional 30-man World Cup roster, but missed the final cut), it seems extremely unlikely that Pasalic would choose Germany over Croatia based on football (let alone for national and family identity reasons).

Pasalic is Croatian, and while Croatia officially joined the EU in July 2013, the UK exercised its option to delay granting free movement to Croats until July 2015.

As such, Pasalic does not have the requisite EU citizenship, nor does he possess the requisite international experience for non-EU player to automatically qualify for a work permit.

In order for a non-EU player to secure a work permit, he must meet the following two requirements:

  1. The player must have participated in at least 75 percent of his home country’s senior competitive international matches where he was available for selection during the two years preceding the date of application, and
  2. The player's national association must be at or above 70th place in the official FIFA World Rankings when averaged over the two years preceding the date of application

While Croatia's two-year rankings average sits comfortably in 10th place worldwide, Pasalic has yet to make his senior international debut. As such, he doesn't come close to meeting the 75% participation requirement.

Navigating the work permit issues can be very tricky, but for a club like Chelsea which recruits young talent from all over the globe, this is something fans would do well to keep in the back of their minds whenever Chelsea signs a young player from outside the European Union.

Barring Chelsea being able to convince the FA's work permit appeals panel to sponsor Pasalic (anything's possible, but this would be very unlikely), he'll be playing elsewhere this season. Vitesse would seem to be the most obvious option, however Pasalic is very highly rated. When we spoke with resident expert @chelseayouth back in May, he mentioned that there could be interest from elsewhere (the Bundesliga, perhaps). In addition, IBWM named Pasalic as one of their top 100 young players to watch for 2014 even before the Chelsea deal was agreed to back in January, so he's already a fairly well-known commodity.

Of course, WAGNH will keep you updated on Pasalic throughout the summer, so stay tuned.