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Nigerian international midfielder Ogenyi Onazi has been denied a work permit and this has scuppered his move to Championship club Birmingham City.
The Blues had agreed on personal terms with the 24-year-old to sign him from Trabzonspor in Turkey. However, the FA turned down an application from Onazi for a work permit. Having appealed, Birmingham themselves were rejected, despite the fact that Onazi is a regular player for his national team.
Onazi has appeared as a defensive midfield player 38 times for Nigeria and even helped him to win the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, as well as reach the final 16 of the World Cup in Brazil back in 2014. However, given that Nigeria have now failed to qualify for the past two AFCON tournaments, it has become harder for players to gain permits.
He has hardly been an outsider either, Onazi has in fact played in over 80% of the Super Eagles’ games over the past two years but the FA took into consideration Nigeria’s world ranking during this time and have not granted permission for him to sign for a Championship club.
Onazi joined current club Trabzonspor from Italian side Lazio last year, scoring twice in his 27 Super Lig matches, thus coming to the attention of Harry Redknapp at St Andrews. The deal is off the table now though, but here are two alternatives the club may look at:
The 24-year-old Italian has quietly gone about his business, spending last season on loan at Crotone and these days, it is not too hard to get players out of Serie A, even if you’re in the Championship.
Crisetig managed 17 games and 2 goals for Italy’s under-21 side and has undoubted quality, with the left-footer potentially being just what Birmingham need and is probably available for cheap. Naturally, there would be no problem for a work permit in his case.
If Birmingham are willing to take the chance, and the fact they wanted Onazi would suggest they are, then there are tons of Brazilians looking for a way into European football and they may have slightly more luck with work permits from this region.
Assuming that there would not be the same paperwork problems, bearing in mind that agents always find ways to get Brazilians into clubs here, then Gabriel could be a very ambitious option indeed. The 25-year-old has played for Botafogo, Palmeiras and now Corinthians, and could easily handle Championship football.