“Banned by the Government: Man City Star’s Heartbreaking Tale of a ‘Stab’ to His Career”

Manchester City signed Brazilian midfielder Douglas Luiz in 2017, investing £10 million in a player who never got the chance to compete in the Premier League. Despite being highly regarded by Pep Guardiola, Luiz was unable to secure a UK work permit, forcing him to leave the club without ever playing a competitive match.

In the meticulous world of football transfers, it’s surprising that a big club like Manchester City would sign a player who couldn’t legally play for them. Back in 2017, expectations were high for the young talent from Vasco de Gama. Luiz even joined City’s pre-season tour in the USA in 2018, where he impressed Guardiola and showed potential as a defensive midfielder.

However, the Home Office’s strict rules on non-EU players, particularly those who are not established internationals, thwarted Luiz’s chances. Despite support letters from Guardiola and Brazil’s manager Tite, Luiz couldn’t secure a work permit as he hadn’t yet represented Brazil at the senior level. This left him ineligible to play for City, leading to a loan to Girona, City’s sister club, with the hope of resolving the issue.

Premier League and FA regulations require clubs to prove a player’s eligibility to work in the UK, with the Home Office using a points-based system to make these decisions. Luiz fell short of these requirements, leaving City’s plans in disarray.

Luiz struggled during his first season at Girona but returned to impress in pre-season with City. Nevertheless, without significant progress on his international front, he had to spend another year in Spain. Guardiola expressed his frustration: “He’s not allowed to play for us. We are going to try to help him to go on loan again and try to get the work permit. It’s so difficult for me to understand.”

For Luiz, the experience was a tough blow. “I took that blow, that stab,” he shared. “I left Vasco where I played every game and was a team’s star. So I went to Man City and Girona, and didn’t play that year. That was a stab.”

Despite these setbacks, Luiz worked hard to adapt to European football, supported by his family. “I learned a lot at Girona, that life is not only about playing, and that you have to maintain your respect for your teammates,” he said.

In 2019, with no work permit in sight, City sold Luiz to Aston Villa for £15 million, including a buy-back option and sell-on clause. Villa guaranteed him more game time, which allowed them to successfully appeal for his work permit. Luiz quickly became a key player for Villa, validating City’s high opinion of him.

Reflecting on his City stint, Luiz expressed gratitude for Guardiola’s influence: “For me, he is the best coach in the world. In two months, the guy managed to evolve more than 70 per cent of my potential.”

As Luiz’s career progresses, City could still benefit financially from their clauses in his contract. Despite the frustrating chapter at City, Luiz’s development under Guardiola’s brief mentorship left a lasting positive impact on his game.

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