After his star turn at the U20 South American championship in late January and early February, 19-year-old Andrey Santos was hoping to be able to start playing for the Chelsea first-team with immediate effect.
Unfortunately, we were unable to secure a work permit for the exceptional young talent, and after a couple offers that did not come to fruition, Santos eventually headed back on loan to his former club, Vasco da Gama, for whom he played such a key role in securing promotion from the Brazilian second division.
By all accounts, Santos didn’t miss the work permit by too much — by perhaps just one point, even! — and while it remains an opaque process, he’s keeping his head down and focusing on the things he can control, namely his performances. The Brazilian top division (Série A) begins next month while the upcoming U20 World Cup in the summer is also seen as an important argument in favor of a work permit.
“I was confident, but unfortunately I didn’t get one (work permit). Head in place and life goes on to be there again in July.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t know what I need. As far as I know, I need to play in Série A and I need to go to the U20 World Cup. I’m pretty calm. I’m doing my best at my club to achieve my goals.”
-Andrey Santos; source: NetVasco via Sport Witness
If and when he does secure the permit, the teenager will be looking towards striking up a midfield partnership with a certain Enzo Fernández, which could be quite something for a long time, if everything pans out as well as expected.
“It has always been my dream to play in the Premier League and for a European giant like Chelsea. So I’m always following the games, cheering a lot. Very, very anxious, but I know that everything will happen in the right time. [...] I really like Thiago Silva, who is a reference, Enzo Fernández too, who is a great player. I hope to play alongside him.”
-Andrey Santos; source: GloboEsporte via Sport Witness
Vasco lost in the two-legged semifinals of the Rio state championship (Carioca) to Flamengo and were recently knocked out of the single-elimination Brazilian cup as well. On the plus side, Santos started all three of those matches, so he’s certainly getting minutes thus far, and that’s the most important thing for his development at the end of the day.