Angel di Maria
Angel di Maria could have moved to Arsenal as a 17-year-old Getty Images/OLI SCARFF

Arsene Wenger has revealed that the work permit issue had stopped Arsenal from signing Angel di Maria as a 17-year-old, who later went to Portugal and Madrid, before a much coveted £60m move to Manchester United last summer.

Wenger revealed that the midfielder was not handed a work permit by the FA, as he did not comply with the stipulations, thus costing Arsenal a huge signing, which could have led them to greater things over the past few years.

Wenger faces a similar situation with Brazilian defender Gabriel Paulista, who has been earmarked for a £15m move to the Emirates in January. However, the deal may fall through owing to work permit issues, as Gabriel is not yet capped by the Brazilian national team and does not have a valid EU passport.

The rules state that a player can have an EU passport if he is a full international, having played 75% of his country's games in the past two years.

However, the FA are looking to amend the rules in the summer, bringing in a caveat, which states that a player will be eligible for a work permit should he cost more than £10m in his valuation.

Wenger, on the other hand, is not willing to wait and insists that any deal for Gabriel has to happen now or the Gunners will move on to other targets in the summer.

"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," Wenger said about di Maria.

"That means that he can only come to England once he's worth a huge amount of money. What does it mean if at the end of the day he comes into the country anyway, with the only difference being it's for a huge amount of money. And who do you pay that to? A club like Real Madrid, who don't need the money," he added.