Juan Agudelo's proposed move to Premier League side Stoke City has broken down after the U.S international was refused a work permit.
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Agudelo, 20, was expected to join the Potters in January after they struck a deal with MLS side New England Revolution, but his application to work in the UK was refused by a Home Office appeals panel in London.
Stoke chief executive Tony Scholes and manager Mark Hughes had presented the club's case to the panel, just hours after Agudelo tweeted:
Wish me good luck at my work permit hearing tomorrow in UK! Hope goes well. #Stokecity— Juan Agudelo (@JuanAgudelo) November 20, 2013
Despite Stoke believing they had a firm case, the panel rejected their bid and as the club have no right to appeal the decision, Agudelo's hopes of securing a move to the Britannia Stadium in January have been effectively ended.
A source told ESPN that the panel did not give a reason for the decision -- although it is believed to be due to the midfielder's lack of international appearances -- and there is no prospect of signing the player and loaning him to another European club as an interim measure so he can eventually meet the panel's requirements.
"We’re bitterly disappointed that the panel rejected our appeal for a work permit for Juan," Scholes told the club's official website.
"The criteria by which the panel should make work permit application decisions are well established and have been in place for some years and, despite recent comments to the media and discussion in the media, that criteria has not changed.
"We are therefore left amazed that our application for a work permit for Juan has been rejected when you compare his talent and ability to players who have been granted a work permit on appeal in the past.
"Unfortunately, under the rules of the appeal panel system we were given no explanation why the application was rejected and so can only speculate as to the reasons why we have been unsuccessful."
Shortly after the verdict was announced, Agudelo again took to Twitter to express his disappointment:
God has a plan I know it.— Juan Agudelo (@JuanAgudelo) November 20, 2013
Hughes was banking on the youngster giving his side a fresh attacking option for the second half of the season, after failing with bids for several strikers during the summer. Stoke are currently just one place above the relegation zone on goal difference, and have scored only 10 league goals so far this season.