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Chelsea must move quickly to bring back young star

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Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

We already knew that Bertrand Traore was a highly talented and promising player, but this past season at Vitesse his development as a goal-scoring forward exceeded perhaps even our most optimistic expectations.  At the very least, the 19-year-old is ready for something greater and more challenging than the Eredivisie next season.  Even better, Jose Mourinho is a card-carrying member of the Bertrand Traore fan club and has repeatedly spoken about his high hopes for the kid, and about wanting to bring him back into the fold.

The one big obstacle to seeing Traore in a Chelsea shirt outside of preseason friendlies and exhibitions is that blasted UK work permit.  There are two main requirements that have to be met in order to qualify for one automatically (i.e. outside of an appeal to a review panel), plus a third one that's a bit of a formality.

1. The applicant club must be in membership of the Premier League or Football League. During the period of endorsement, the player may only play for clubs in membership of those leagues (i.e. the player may not be loaned to a club below the Football League);
2. The player must have participated in at least 75% of his home country's senior competitive international matches where he was available for selection during the two years preceding the date of the application; and
3. 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 the application.

It's the second one that's the trickiest to figure out, but fortunately the good people at TheChels.net did just that.  Well, actually just the one person behind the ever-excellent @chelseayouth Twitter handle.

His findings put Traore at least at 77% participation in Burkina Faso's competitive international matches over the past two years.  And with the country hovering around 60th in FIFA's rankings, requirement #3 should be met as well.

The one thing that's not mentioned in the linked article is the upcoming change in the FA regulations, which will drop the Top 70 FIFA ranking requirement down to just Top 50.

Required % of international matches over previous 24 months is determined by the player's National Association's official FIFA ranking:

  • FIFA 1-10: 30% and above
  • FIFA 11-20: 45% and above
  • FIFA 21-30: 60% and above
  • FIFA 31-50: 75% and above

Reference period reduced to 12 months for those players aged 21 or under at time of application.

These new regulations were supposed to take effect sometime in May or June, but there has been no official word from the FA about any exact timelines, or any further details for that matter.  While Traore would still meet the percentage of matches played requirement under the new rules -- especially with the lookup window reduced to just 12 months -- Burkina Faso nationals wouldn't be eligible at all due to the country's low FIFA ranking.  The ranking used by the FA is a 12-month rolling average of FIFA's rankings.  Burkina Faso were 61st on the FA's list at the end of April, and they've only gone further down on FIFA's list since.

This is why Chelsea must act quickly.  Assuming the FA are allowing new applications to be submitted at this time and that they're still using the old rules, Bertrand Traore should be able to qualify for that elusive work permit.  If we wait too long and the new rules come into effect, we would have to appeal to a regulatory panel, which would likely result in an unfavorable decision for us.

So, what are we waiting for, Chelsea?  Let's get this boy legalized!  (In fairness, we might already be working on this without any public knowledge.)