Manchester United are in talks with Belgian side AA Gent regarding a partnership that would allow United to loan out young players in need of a work permit to Belgium.
The story. which first appeared this morning in Belgian media outlet HLN, suggests United want to infiltrate the South American market before allowing them to develop in Belgium with Gent, similar to what Chelsea are currently doing with Vitesse Arnhem in Holland.
Currently, it is difficult for a young, non-EU player to come to England and obtain a work permit, meaning the majority of South American players tend to join clubs in Spain and Portugal, with rumours suggesting Benfica’s young star Talisca was a target for United in the summer.
Santos striker Gabriel Barbosa is being linked with almost every top European club and a partnership with a club like Gent would give United a head start on their rivals if they were able to send their players out to gain both a work permit and vital first team experience.
The club held a similar relationship with Belgian club Royal Antwerp at the turn of the millennium until they were relegated, with United seemingly wanting to make sure their players are playing top flight football. Chinese striker Dong Fangzhuo was a prime example as he needed a work permit to play in England and was therefore loaned immediately to Antwerp.
Previously, Sir Alex Ferguson also used the affiliation to give minutes to future first team players such as Fraizer Campbell, John O’Shea and Jonny Evans among many others.
Any such deal with Gent would make it much easier for United to bring over young South American stars and could lead to an influx of them at Old Trafford in the future.