What’s next for Agudelo?

JuanAgudeloNewEnglandRevolution3 (NewEnglandRevolution)


Days after the stunning news that he would not be receiving a UK work permit, young American forward Juan Agudelo is in limbo as he heads toward the January transfer window as a free agent.

With his Stoke City deal appearing to be dead in the water, what happens next for Agudelo? The speculation has already begun, while Agudelo’s representatives work to find a new solution.

Here is my Goal.com piece on Agudelo’s situation, and how his options stack up. The 20-year-old striker isn’t likely to be short on options, and as a free agent, he should be able to find a good number of suitors across the pond. The chances are still very good that he will be playing in a good league in Europe two months from now.

What the work permit rejection and failed Stoke City move means Agudelo is likely to have to wait until next month for a better idea of just where he will go. Spain is a possibility for the young forward, and leagues like the Dutch League and French League are also possibilities. Scottish side Celtic has been linked to Agudelo in the past, but that move doesn’t appear to be a likely one at the moment.

What do you think of Agudelo’s situation? Glad he’s not going to Stoke City? Hoping he changes his mind about MLS and comes back, or think he needs to go to Europe to boost his game?

Share your thoughts below.

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74 Responses to What’s next for Agudelo?

  1. Good Jeremy says:

    Go to the Netherlands. There probably isn’t a better place for a young attacker to go to get his feet under him, learn great technique, and catch the eye of top scouts. France would be another good option, as would Portugal.

    • Reboot says:

      I hear AZ likes American strikers.

    • AlexH says:

      Go to whomever pays you the most money. Soccer careers can end in an instant so earn what you can when you can. Also, the more a team pays you the more interest the team has in giving you every opportunity to justify your salary and the more vested the suits are in your success.

      • Dinho says:

        sad but true.

      • Aaron in SF says:

        That’s a bit shortsighted, realistic but not a universal truth. Look at Freddy Adu, sure he’s probably been paid for doing nothing the last 5 years, but his longer term outlook is pretty low. The more a young guy can play, especially a striker with a high ceiling, the better. If he can make $750k/yr now over $200k in MLS or some lower league/team that’s all well and good, but if he can establish himself as a big name player in 3-4 years he could more than make up for that difference in future earnings. Risks either way you do it.

      • beto says:

        obvious but careful with that logic.. guys like Adu, Jozy (early in his career), Gooch, others got linked up with lucrative deals that they couldn’t play up to. This made them too expensive for the clubs that would play them and not good enough to start at the clubs that could afford them..

        Juan should have plenty of options I hope he picks the right one and not just the first one (Stoke, Celtic).. Like everyone here AZ or another Dutch team could be a great fit, any of your UEFA continental leagues would also fit his style/ability, or maybe he could forge a new path for Americans and play in Colombia, Brazil or Argentina.. all great leagues.. or just end up back in New England, not terrible either! choose wisely!

    • AltiCooper says:

      Exactly! I can’t think of one talented American that played in the Netherlands and didn’t develop into a stud. Bradley, Beasley, Altidore, Johansson, etc.

    • Seb says:

      Why is Ives writing for goal.com? Others have asked, but I never see an answer.

      • Northzax says:

        I assume because they pay him to. Man’s got a family to feed, after all. Blogging ain’t the most lucrative of industries, and covering a league like MLS is not cheap, let alone the mnt.

        • Seb says:

          So what is soccer by Ives then?

          • Impartial Observer says:

            A lot of soccer writers work for big name outlets and have their own personal blog. Ives blog just happens to be one of the most popular if not the most popular in the US.

  2. Han Solo says:

    Question, What causes one to be denied a work permit?

    • DanO says:

      Brek Shea

    • Shane says:

      Lack of recent Caps with the Nats.

      This is a blessing, Stoke was a bad place for him to go. Outside of Swansea I don’t want him in England. AZ will be Aron by next summer, I wonder if Ernie Stewart will bring him in the same way in Jan.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Initial criteria is 75% caps in A-level international games + your NT is ranked <70. If you can't meet that, which Agudelo couldn't as he is out of favor, you can appeal and the standards are:

      To consider whether the player is of the highest calibre.

      To consider whether the player is able to contribute significantly to the development of the game at the top level in United Kingdom.

      • Owen says:

        So how did players like Eric Lichaj, Jonathon Spector, Zak Whitbread, and Mark Pelosi get work permits prior to being involved with the Senior NT?

        • HammerXeneise says:

          Either by having a European passport or being recruited via a team’s youth system (Spector at ManU).

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          Lichaj is the child of Polish parents but born in the USA.

          Whitbread was born in Houston but is the child of an Englishman and lived there most of his life.

          Spector has a German passport also.

          The difference between some random mediocrities and some good players getting into the EU and UK is sometimes whether they have a EU passport. It’s not necessarily the best players. You have the EU passport you don’t go through work permit…..they basically treat you as a UK worker under European law.

        • Mark K. says:

          If you have an EU passport you cannot be denied a work permit. The players you mention were all eligible for EU passports through blood relatives (either parents or grandparents). Lichaj (Poland), Spector (Ireland, I believe), Whitbread (born in England), Pelosi (German). Several other current and previous Americans to play in the EPL got their work permit this way. For example Howard (via his mother), Demerit (mother also, Denmark I believe). When Szetela was offered a contract by Everton it was because he has Polish heritage. And I believe Hyndman’s grandson is at Fulham through a German connection. You can also get a work permit if you have established EU residency. So Brad Friedel, who had trouble getting his permit back in the day, played in Turkey for a while. Some American players are eligible for work permits (Donovan, McBride). Others have their work permit approved on appeal (Dempsey, Convey eventually). Lastly, there are some rules that I don’t fully understand about being eligible if the EU has some sort of employment agreement in place with your country of origin. I believe Jozy benefited from this (Haitian heritage and a Haitian/French agreement) and Maurice Edu (his Nigerian father).

          • The Imperative Voice says:

            I think there is a “Commonwealth” back door of some sort if you are from a recent colony.

          • Joe+G says:

            Lots of EU countries don’t have WP standards as high as the UK. Germany, for example, doesn’t cap foreign players nor have any special work permit requirement. For the most part, the EU passport is the requirement. There are only a few “one-off” agreements, most having to do with Africa.

            Jozy started in Spain, which does limit foreign players, but they spent enough on him that he was able to get a Spanish WP easily (again, not as selective as the UK).

    • Birgit Calhoun says:

      BPL and the government have decided other players in England need to be given first dibs. Agudelo should stay here and show his form. He did well at New England.

      • Julio says:

        I have inside information that the Revs management will offer him another contract AND it will include a part time, night job at Walmart too. Hard to beat that offer

    • Brett Bates says:

      I think the UK only issues like 200k work visa’s a year. Even with a sponsor like Stoke its hard to get accepted. Oh yeah and Brek Shea

  3. el paso tx says:

    Score like a freak n get called to the national team, he has a lot of talent. Hes actually a number 10 or 9, someone needs to develop him as soon as possible.
    He can also give altidore, dempsey competition, just like johanson is doung it.
    If not, some mexican team will snatch him n pay him some more money.
    Crazy question out there, can galaxy end up with EJ and agudelo, or just one.

    • Kyle #2 says:

      LA already have three DP’s so as the rules stand now they could only take them if they did not designate them as DP’s and had their full salary go against their cap. To pay EJ and Agudelo what they are worth and keep three DP’s LA would only be fielding 5 players next year (hyperbole but only slightly).

    • Julio says:

      He has the talent now and JK is making a mistake not looking at him. For what ever reason, hes being shunned

      • Andy says:

        Probably more about injury issues than about Jurgen not looking at him. His last 2 MLS seasons have seen him injured more often than not. And playing for Chivas USA is pretty much like being injured.

  4. BrianK says:

    Why is it “stunning” that the work permit has been denied? He didn’t meet the criteria,…plain and simple. Furthermore, if you were on the review board wouldn’t you scratch your head and say,…”well,…he is not a mainstay in the USMNT and been on 3 MLS clubs in the past three years,…one of which is complete crap. What is all the fuss about?”

    Not to mention Eddie Johnson and up till now Jozy Altidore have not made a case for importing USA forwards.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      His only real argument was he was going to be a U23 star and then got hurt right out of the gate at the tourney. His basic story is unfulfilled potential.

      It probably does not help that he is still outside looking in for the NT. I think if you had an injury and went away and came back, you can try selling you’re a regular and that you’re of the level. But he’s been in the wilderness so long and not gotten called back much where they might just say you’re not proven international quality (anymore). And he probably couldn’t lean on Klinsi or MLS coaches to make his sales pitch, which some emerging players can. If AJ or Gonzo or the like wanted to play in England you know Klinsi would pull strings.

      • Kyle #2 says:

        He’s 20. Even in the young athlete world of soccer you cannot be a case of “unfulfilled potential” at 20. You could say he is not on track to be Messi but does anyone think he will not be at least BPL role playing level in 2-3 years?

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          He signed in 2010, 3 years ago. He has 70-plus club appearances and 40-plus US youth and senior caps. At some point when you are a full time pro this starts counting for real. Otherwise we’re trafficking in Freddy Adu myth where he never seems to be old enough for people to admit he could wash out, a decade into his career.

          There are lots of players who hit their mark younger — this is his profession for a few years now — and he’s at roughly the age when European teams either keep and elevate you, or start loaning you, or just plain cut bait.

          Agudelo and Shea both have scads of talent but senior play requires lunchpail work and 90 minute effort every week, if you want to stand out. They need to decide if they want to be Dempsey and be the player people want, or if they want to be itinerant Freddy Adu, trading on potential forever. I think both would be solid MLS pros but beyond that is something they have to work to accomplish.

          And, I’m not sure Stoke is where either would get it done. I think Mexico would indulge the flair, Holland the single minded attacking, and I think Scandinavia and Australia the level drops enough they could slot right in. You send them to Germany or England and it’s deep end of the pool, effort and technique expected day 1, sink or swim.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Like, say, Holden if he had to start over could argue he was a regular, got hurt, rehabbed, came back and slotted right in. Agudelo on the other hand is simply out of favor.

    • TomG says:

      It is stunning because players with similar resumes have all been approved.

      • Joamiq says:

        This. Appeals are regularly granted. This signals that the UK is changing its approach to allowing foreign players to play in the Premiership.

      • kev says:

        Disagree. Happy to see the interest in Juan, but he hasn’t scored that many goals the past few years as a forward, and hasn’t been seeing time with either the USA “A” or “B+” squads. What other players with similar backgrounds received permits?

    • Joe+G says:

      Remember that an EPL team thought he could qualify or they wouldn’t have bothered. Obviously, this was a few months ago, but they didn’t expect him to pick up any caps in the interim. Stoke would be the outfit that should have best understood the situation.

  5. The Imperative Voice says:

    Celtic would be highly unlikely b/c it’s the same UK work permit. He might get a different panel but it could be taken as perseverating. He’d be better served to go away and come back. I’m also not sure that Celtic isn’t a reach which might not improve his fortunes…..as I felt about Stoke.

    Holland, Scandinavia, Australia, Mexico.

  6. Brain Guy says:

    Incredible that Agudelo is still only 20. He’s at a critical juncture in his development. I agree that Stoke may not have been a good fit. The Dutch league has certainly been good for Altidore and Johansson. But wherever he goes, he needs to play — not just learn from others (which is important of course), but play regularly.

  7. Alexandria says:

    Stoke are terrible so this is a win, i’m hoping he goes to the tean that will play him and let him challenge himself. I dont think that is MLS due to the fact he really hasnt done jack here yet we treat him as some kind of proven commodity. he’s not and a change in environment will do him well.

  8. Dutch Much? says:

    If possible, GO TO HOLLAND! Look at the success rate of our players who go there early in their careers. Perfect stepping stone.

  9. Troy says:

    Go to Portugal .Look what Fredy Montero is doing there because you are actually protected by the officials and arent hacked to death by players. There are good clubs there and he could play there and help his game tremendously.

  10. Max says:

    I’d love to see him in Holland. I think he could really blossom there, and even parlay it into a wild-card selection to the WC roster if he settles quickly.

    Spain is another interesting option. The issue there is that Spanish clubs have a strict 3-non-EU limit. The way around this is that players with Latin American passports are fast-tracked (2 years) to Spanish citizenship, and with Agudelo being born in Colombia, I imagine he would be on that fast-track. (Yes, I have played far too much Football Manager.)

    • Benjamin C. says:

      I always agree that Holland is a good place for a young American to cut his teeth in European soccer; there seems to be a decent track record in that regard, and it is generally an attacking player’s paradise. For those in the know: which top tier Dutch teams need a striker/playmaker at the moment?

    • Fred says:

      Can’t have more than two passports so he would have to give up the Colombian one.

    • Gerald says:

      No such thing as playing too much Football Manager (though i’m an old school CM 01/02 guy)

  11. Chris says:

    I think in the long run Agudelo will come out of this all the better. Every one’s acting like this is the worst thing to happen to him, he was going to Stoke people. Stoke. If I was being denied transfer to one of the big English clubs, sure that’s a bummer, but I think he heads to the Netherlands or Germany and he’ll learn more and it will have a bigger impact on his career. This is what drives me crazy about the EPL, so many American players (and player around the world, d’uh) want to play there, but the style of play just doesn’t match up some times, and then it’s just a square peg and a round hole.

  12. biff says:

    After letting the dust settle on the work permit denial, it seems a bit odd. I am wondering whether Stoke maybe started having second thoughts on Agudelo and might be happy that they did not have follow through on the pre-contract, with the chance that Agudelo, instead of following in the successful footsteps of Geoff Cameron, might go down the failed path of Shea and Edu, who (up to this point) aren’t playing but still collecting big salaries. Stoke needs players in January who can contribute immediately in order to avoid any risk of relegation and that will cost money.

    IMO the smartest move Agudelo could make would be to accept he is still only 20 years old with only MLS experience and now swallow his pride and go for full-time playing time in either a second-tier league in England or Germany, or to Holland or Scandinavia or risk falling completely off the radar and being surpassed by other young talent. Quite frankly, up to this point he has not done much on the field to brag about but nonetheless still gets a lot of press. He needs to finally prove he merits the attention.

  13. Tony in Quakeland says:

    Real Madrid

  14. John Harrold says:

    Deutschland all the way!!!!

  15. Colin says:

    Please don’t stay in the MLS Juan. I am all for the MLS growing and I realize that the MLS has improved leaps and bounds over the last decade, but if our national team is going to compete against higher class opposition, our most talented players need to be playing in Europe. It is not just about the the quality of play; in Europe players are forced to fight more for their spots, they feel more pressure from the fans and management, and they are, ultimately, forced to be more committed to the game. While some players may not rise to the occassion, those that do are going to make our National Team all the better.

    Maybe this won’t be true in 10-20 years time, but at the moment it certainly is.

    • Julio says:

      Did you watch the last two NAT games? lots of Euro players and we still can’t compete. I’m not sure if going to Europe is the promised land or not. It is if you actually play. For some it works (Bradley, Dempsey among others) while for others, its a disaster (Edu, Shea, Parkhurst, Twellman (going back some), Donovan)

      Its better to play every game in MLS than to ride Euro pine

  16. Acebojangles says:

    It seems silly to me to water down your domestic league this way. There’s a severely limited number of spots for professional soccer players, so I don’t think their immigration could have an real impact on English society. I understand that some in England think that keeping more spots in the PL will help develop their own players, but I don’t think I agree. There is a global market for soccer players, so English players should be able to find spots elsewhere at their level.

    • Brain Guy says:

      This comment raises an interesting question. If so many EPL roster spots are occupied by non-English players, should the English FA acknowledge that it needs to send more young English players to less competitive but still respected leagues (France? Holland?) to be sure that enough of them can develop into top-notch professionals? Or does the Championship perform that function? As a factual matter, how many Englishmen play in other European top leagues?

      • Joe+G says:

        I believe I read that it’s not many Brits who play abroad. The opportunities (and the money) are too good in the UK to consider going to “Europe” (as Brits see themselves as foreigners to the Continent).

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      It’s complicated. The English system ironically drives up the cost of English talent which makes Americans cheap transfers in comparison. But then you have to get the work permit and make the grade. At that point it doesn’t matter that you’re a cheap buy. The top 3/4 of the EPL is better than MLS on a weekly basis so you have to step up. Bottom tier teams, I think we’ve seen that a Kamara or the like could help.

      I think if they lowered the immigration rules the primary effect in terms of playing players would be on the weaker teams. The elite might sign more Americans if they could, but would they play?

      England has historically sent a player or two abroad at a time….Platt, Hargreaves. But Hargreaves in particular did not grow up there but rather had the passport. I think the reality is that while an elite MLS player can step up to Europe and improve competition, few top end English players can really change the level of play by moving. You have to be Cristiano Ronaldo for there to be an “up” from the EPL, which is being the key cog in someplace like Spain. Otherwise it’s a change of scenery, perhaps a higher pay grade, same level, and you have to adjust to the playing style and hope that goes smoothly.

  17. Travis says:

    I can say with a high degree of confidence that the wrong decision would be Celtic, I know that is mostly off the table now but it needs to be completely off the table. That league is not good at all. Look like to somewhere like Netherlands, Belgium or Portugal.

  18. Coco says:

    it is a bit odd that he was denied. I mean, Robbie Findley got a work permit. Robbie f’in Findley.

    • blokhin says:

      the panel was amazing at his speed and ability to dribble the ball into the penalty area and get it across the line…for a goal kick

  19. Tolvinho says:

    Best thing that could ever have happened to him. Juan was not going to cut it in the EPL, plain and simple. He needs to go to Holland, Belgium, or France and develop into a solid starter there, then make the jump to the next level.

  20. Tony says:

    He should stay in mls. If it is a money issu the there should be a dp rule to keep American talent. Why go abroad and sit on the bench for some mediocre team. Time for mls to grow talent and show a good product. What is the point of sending your talent to Europe so they can warm the bench!!!

  21. Pingback: Report: Stoke manager Hughes reveals that Agudelo won't join in January

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