Allan Rodrigues’ struggle on loan at Hertha Berlin this season may impact on his long-term future at Liverpool, due to work-permit regulations.
Allan made the move to the Olympiastadion in August, after impressing Hertha manager Pal Dardai in training over the summer.
The Brazilian’s time in Berlin is designed to secure a work permit to play for Liverpool from next season and beyond, after complications following his £250,000 move from Internacional in 2015.
However, it has not all gone smoothly for the 19-year-old so far, with Allan struggling for game time as Hertha make an unexpected bid for the Bundesliga title.
So how will this affect Allan’s chances of qualifying for a work permit next season, and what is next for the midfielder?
Struggles at Hertha
When Allan made the move to Hertha, it looked to be a great piece of business by Jurgen Klopp and the Reds’ hierarchy.
Having already spent time on loan in Finland (with SJK) and Belgium (with Sint-Truiden), joining a side who finished seventh in the Bundesliga in 2015/16 was a major step up in quality.
Making the move to Klopp’s former homeland, too, Allan’s spell in Germany looked set to be a fruitful one.
But, so far, this hasn’t proved to be the case, with Allan struggling for both minutes and form under Dardai in the Bundesliga and the DFB-Pokal.
He was an unused substitute in Hertha’s first three league games of the season, victories over SC Freiburg, FC Ingolstadt and Schalke 04, before being thrown in at the deep end in September.
Allan made his debut in the blue and white of Berlin away to Bayern Munich, partnering Fabian Lustenberger and Mitchell Weiser in midfield, and his night was clouded by a disappointing error that led to the Bavarians’ second goal of the night.
Caught in possession by ex-Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara, Allan underlined his inexperience, allowing Bayern to surge towards a comfortable victory at a crucial time.
It was far from a poor performance, with Allan’s willing to show for the ball and distribute cleanly and efficiently, but his return to the bench for the next game against Eintracht Frankfurt was telling.
Allan has made just nine appearances in all competitions so far, including three starts, playing just 377 minutes at an average of 41.9 minutes per game.
Each of his three starts, bizarrely, have come against sides challenging with Hertha for the Bundesliga title: Bayern, Hoffenheim 1899 and, most recently, RP Leipzig.
This could show Dardai’s faith in Allan’s big-game composure, but that the youngster has suffered defeat in each one—3-0 to Bayern; 1-0 to Hoffenheim; and 2-0 to Leipzig—is far from a flattering record.
Furthermore, this approach by Dardai is doing Allan no favours in his long-term push for a work permit.
Allan’s Work Permit Application
Given the under-the-radar nature of his move from Internacional, Allan was always likely to spend time away from Liverpool on loan in order to gain the requisite experience for a work permit.
But with the target believed to be a successful application for the 2017/18 campaign, Klopp’s plans may need to be altered as he plots to welcome Allan to his squad.
Introduced in 2015, the FA’s new work-permit regulations were imposed to reduce the influx of non-EU players into the Premier League and Football League, with chairman Greg Dyke explaining the changes.
Dyke said that the aim was to welcome players who were “internationally established at the highest level,” and they would ensure a “significant contribution to the development of their sport.”
He also explained that while most non-EU players previously moving to England came subject to the FA’s appeals system, the success rate of such an approach would be significantly reduced from 79 percent.
“It will make it far tougher for those who don’t meet the quality standard to get to play in Britain,” he said, rather emphatically.
The initial application for a work permit is still based on senior international involvement, but the parameters have changed, weighted in line with FIFA rankings.
To qualify for a work permit before appeal, Allan would need to have played at least 30 percent of Brazil’s games over the past year.
But yet to make his senior debut for the Selecao, and with Tite’s side currently scheduled to play just three more times before the start of 2017/18, this is impossible.
Therefore, Liverpool will need to appeal for his work permit in front of the Exceptions Panel, who employ a points-based system based on the players’ experience and the significance of his transfer.
On a basic level, given Allan joined the Reds for just £250,000, and is unlikely to be in the club’s 15 highest earners, his appeal solely relies upon his game time with Hertha this season, but he would need to have played at least 30 percent of available minutes in the Bundesliga.
So far, Allan has played just 24.3 percent, meaning he would not qualify unless his fortunes improve in the second half of the season.
There remains another appeal process based on extenuating circumstances, but with the FA determined to enforce their new regulations strictly, it seems likely he will fail in the summer.
What Next for Allan?
Naturally, time spent in a first-team environment, training alongside the likes of Vladimir Darida, Per Ciljan Skjelbred and Salomon Kalou every day, will be a boost for Allan as a young player.
Playing in one of Europe’s top five leagues, against clubs like Bayern and Schalke, will also be a benefit to the 19-year-old.
But on a fundamental level, Allan’s time with Hertha in 2016/17 has so far proved a major disappointment.
Given the nature of Hertha’s title challenge, sitting third during the winter break, just nine points off leaders Bayern and six behind second-placed Leipzig, this was not the plan in August.
However, with Allan set to fail in his effort to gain a work permit in the summer, Klopp must now plan his next step.
This should see the midfielder leave the club on loan again in 2017/18, and while his reputation will be enhanced to a certain degree during his time with Hertha, his next destination will need to be measured carefully.
Clubs from France, Holland and Spain were said to be interested in signing Allan ahead of the current season, and a spell in Ligue 1, the Eredivisie or La Liga may be more beneficial.
While this happens, however, Allan could see his prospects diminish at his parent club, with Marko Grujic, Ovie Ejaria, Cameron Brannagan and Pedro Chirivella all competitors in the middle of the park.
But Allan does have the backing of Klopp, with the German hailing him as “an outstanding talent” in March, saying “we hope we can find a solution in the future because he will be a fixed part of the squad in the future, for sure.”
Unfortunately however, that future is likely to be further in the distance than expected.