Stoke City boss Mark Hughes really wanted Juan Agudelo.
The young American forward was slated to join countrymen Geoff Cameron, Brek Shea and Maurice Edu as Potters in November, but had his work permit denied. The move was resurrected in January, raising a few eyebrows along the way.
And as Stoke City made the signing of Agudelo official — as well as his loan to FC Utrecht in the Eredivisie — we know that Hughes wanted to make sure the former New England Revolution player was under his banner in some way.
He couldn’t keep Agudelo, but he didn’t want someone else to sign the player who scored seven goals in 14 appearances for New England last year and had scored for his country against South Africa and Argentina before he turned 19.
The loan comes as Stoke says they’ll keep applying for Agudelo’s work permit. Potters chief executive Tony Scholes said:
“We were surprised and bitterly disappointed when our application for a work permit was rejected by the appeals panel – as were many other people in the game.
“It’s still our view that Juan is a great talent and is a player that Mark Hughes would like to join our squad. We have therefore decided that we are going to reapply for a work permit at the earliest opportunity.
“We have signed Juan but he cannot play in this country, so we’re loaning him out to Utrecht to allow him to not only develop his experience of playing in Europe but also to stay match sharp.
“Hopefully we will be successful with our second work permit application and Juan will be able to join Mark’s squad in advance of next season.”
It’s easy to forget that players like Agudelo and Altidore are as young as they are, thanks in large part to how willing the striker-starved States are to put a youngster on the radar. Hopefully this a fine “rebirth” for a young player who wants into the World Cup. And Holland is a place that will keep Jurgen Klinsmann’s attention.
Here’s some more on FC Utrecht from our own Steve Davis.