Marcos Rojo: Why is it taking so long for Manchester United to get a work permit?

£16m has already missed two matches for the club and could miss a third

Marcos Rojo has already missed two matches and could miss a third against Burnley this weekend, despite being a Manchester United for more than a week.

The Argentine centre-back is currently in Spain at the Argentine embassy working on his work permit, but looks to have missed the 12pm registration for the match against Burnley on Saturday.

"Marcos Rojo is working on his permit,” said Louis van Gaal on Thursday. “He must go abroad for it. He is abroad in the [Argentine] embassy in Madrid but it’s taking more time than expected.

But why does a player United have just spent £16m on need a work permit?

The rules relate to non-European players and to be eligible for a work permit, a player must have played in more than 75 per cent of his nations matches in the last two years, and that country must be in the top 70 nations in Fifa’s ranking.

Argentina, of course, hardly leave the top 10 in the rankings, but Rojo has been in and out of the national team. Rojo has 28 caps in the last four seasons, but had long spells out of the side, while friendlies are not counted - only 'competitive A' games, such as qualifiers, the Copa America and tournament matches count.

National team-mate Angel Di Maria was able to secure a work permit because he has also holds an Italian passport.

Usually a rejected permit can be appealed. Last summer, Willian was able to move from Aznhi Makhachkala to Chelsea despite only having two Brazil caps to his name – the Blues argued, successfully, that Willian would have won more caps had he not been Brazilian because of the amount of talent they have. An FA appointed panel accepted their case.

willian-chelsea.jpg
Chelsea successfully appealed after Willian's work permit was initially turned down

Other players, especially youngsters who are yet to make their mark on the international stage or even at senior level, have the option of going abroad where rules are more relaxed. Plenty of players have spent a season on loan in the Netherlands where the rules are more relaxed, but this is obviously not an option for Rojo and United.

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Last September Football Association chairman Greg Dyke announced that rules on work permits would be getting stricter.

"We should also examine how the current work permit system operates — and it is worth pointing out that roughly 30 per cent [including Football League players] of the players who received work permits this summer did not meet the standard criteria — and we should review the loan system to see if it can be made more effective in terms of developing players," he said.

Most permits are granted for three years before being renewed, however renewals may be subject to stricter guidelines under the new rules.

Rojo could have to wait until after the international break to now make his United debut, in the match at Old Trafford against Queens Park Rangers.

Manchester United have been contacted by The Independent but are yet to respond.

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