Exclusive - Manchester City are hopeful that Brazilian starlet Douglas Luiz will finally be handed a work permit this summer - two years after he initially signed for the Premier League champions.
Luiz penned a five-year contract at City in July 2017 - joining from Vasco da Gama for £10.7m - but has spent the last couple of seasons on loan with City's sister club Girona. He made a total of 46 appearances across all competitions for the Catalan side during his spell, but was part of a squad that were relegated from La Liga in the 2018/19 campaign.
90min understands, however, that City now want Luiz to join up with them. They attempted to push a work permit through for the 21-year-old last summer, but much to manager Pep Guardiola's dissatisfaction at the time, their request was rejected by the UK Home Office.
In order to qualify for a work permit, players from non-EU nations generally must have featured in a certain percentage of their senior national side's games over the previous two years - though it is reduced to one for players under the age of 21. For Brazilians (their team features in the top ten of the FIFA world rankings) the calculation sits at 30% or above.
Douglas, however, is uncapped at senior level, and this is where City's problems lie. In cases for uncapped players, their fate sits in the hands of the FA's Exceptions Panel once a club has proceeded with an application, and it's dealt with on a case by case basis. There are numerous criteria to meet, but City saw their last application fail.
"He’s not allowed [to play for us]," Guardiola said in August 2018, via the Guardian. "It’s so difficult for me to understand. One guy who doesn’t see the player or any training sessions every day has to judge if Douglas has the ability and quality to play.
"I accept the rules but I don’t understand because anybody in the world can work wherever he wants. I am so sad and disappointed for Douglas because he could help us, play with us. He has shown many good things in training sessions and the reason why we spent a lot of money to buy him is because he is a player with a huge capacity to play for us."
City however now have fresh hope the application may swing with the authorities because of Douglas' exploits at the recent Toulon tournament - where he helped Brazil's Under-22s win the competition. He also picked up the award for player of the tournament, which may strengthen his case.
Douglas is a central midfielder by trade, and has been viewed at City as a potential replacement for his fellow countryman Fernandinho - who is 34 and often in need of rotation. Ilkay Gundogan was used in the position in the closing months of last season, but City are close to finalising the signing of Atletico Madrid midfielder Rodri to strengthen the position further.
The impact Rodri's arrival will have on Douglas' future is unclear, though City also know now that David Silva will leave the club after ten years of service in 2020 - so may be in need of more numbers in midfield moving forward.