Arsene Wenger believes scrapping work permit requirements is the best way to help develop home-grown young players for the Barclays Premier League – and could have seen the likes of Argentina star Angel Di Maria arrive in England much earlier.
The Gunners remain hopeful of securing a deal to bring in Villarreal centre-back Gabriel Paulista, but any move would need Home Office approval as the 24-year-old defender does not meet the current required international criteria as he is yet to represent Brazil.
As such, Arsenal would need to convince a Football Association hearing that the player was an “exceptional talent”.
A new set of regulations has been proposed for next season in a bid to reduce the number of non-European Union passport-holders within the English game.
Those, backed by FA chairman Greg Dyke, would see the current requirement of a player having taken part in 75 percent of internationals over the past two years if their country is ranked within the top 70 tightened, but also allow an exception for any transfers over £10million.
Wenger has long championed the complete freedom of movement for talented players, no matter what their passport says, and believes there is an argument to make football a special case to scrap all the government red tape.
The Arsenal manager said: “Ideally it would open completely, and anyone can come in.
“We had identified (Angel) Di Maria when he was 17. We saw him in an international competition and we wanted him to come here.
“But he goes to Portugal, and from Portugal he goes to Spain. Why? Because he could not get a work permit (for England), so that means you can only get him to England once he is worth a huge amount of money.
“What does it mean if at the end of the day he comes anyway into the country (later on), just with a huge amount of money (in a transfer fee) – and who do you pay this huge amount of money to? A club like Real Madrid; they don’t need the money.
“We have to be conscious of that.”
Frenchman Wenger, now the longest serving manager in the English topflight, believes quality home-grown talent would always shine through.
He said: “There are two ways to approach the solution of the academies. The first is you close completely the borders of the country and you play only with English players. What will that do? That will kill the attractiveness of the Premier League worldwide.
“The second is to say: ‘look, we have the best league in the world, so let’s produce the best players in the world’.
“This is a job where the competitive aspect is very important. The players all make big money, and they have to be better than the others if you want to play in the best league in the world, so let’s open it completely.
“We live in a world where artificial protection is negative.
“If you want to be the best league in the world then you have to accept that you have to produce the best players in the world so the question is how can you produce the best players?”
Wenger continued: “One thing is for sure, if you put a young player with top level players, he has more chance to develop. If you put him with average players he has more chance to remain average.
“It is the same if you have children – you put them in the top class and if they are talented they develop better than if you put them in an average class.”
Wenger believes allowing more quality non-EU players into the Premier League would only enhance the global brand.
He added: “Indian people watch Arsenal v Man United; you have more chances to do that if you have an Indian player in one of the two teams, or a Chinese player. That is the target of the Premier League, to be the best league in the world, so you have to open it completely.”-dailymail.