The challenging overseas recruitment rules worth noting after Sunderland's international midfielder link
Sunderland were on Monday morning linked with a move for Georgian midfielder Giorgi Aburjania, who is set to become a free agent as his FC Cartagena contract expires.
Subsequent reporting from Spain has claimed that the midfielder is closing on a move to Portugese side Gil Vicente, with sources doubting claims that a move to Wearside is imminent this morning.
The Black Cats, unquestionably, are looking to expand their reach in the transfer market this summer, moving towards what has been termed an 'evidence-based approach'.
With data analytics playing an increasingly significant role in their search for undervalued talent, previously unexplored markets
However, this summer above all others, it's worth noting the new work permit rules that will significantly complicate the recruitment of players from Europe.
In the aftermath of the UK's departure from the European Union, new rules were put in place regarding the signing of players from overseas.
In short, any player who does not have a British passport must hit a total of 15 points, awarded across five main categories.
Those categories are: The percentage of minutes played at international level (relative to that nation's ranking), the percentage of minutes played at club level (relative to ranking of the division), percentage of minutes played in European competition, the selling club's league position and progression in European competition.
The rules are relatively forgiving in terms for Premier League clubs, as any regular international for a nation ranked in the top 50 is almost certain to qualify for a permit. Similarly, any player recruited from one of the five biggest leagues in Europe is highly likely to qualify.
A footballer playing regularly in a 'band four' league faces an uphill struggle to reach the fifteen-point mark, as they will earn just six points on the basis of being a regular at club level alone.
When you look at the leagues that fall into the band four zone, you can quickly see why his has an impact on League One clubs such as Sunderland: Czech First League, Ukrainian Premier League, Greek Superleague, Colombian Categoría Primera A, Croatian First Football League, Swiss Super League, Segunda División (Spain), Major League Soccer (USA and Canada) 2. Bundesliga (Germany), Austrian Bundesliga, and Ligue 2 (France).
In the case of Aburjania, the new rules would suggest that a move to Sunderland would be challenging even in the event of genuine interest.
Though he is a regular for Georgia, they are ranked 89th in the world and as such, his appearances there would only earn two points.
His regular appearances in a FC Cartagena side who finished 16th in the Segunda Division last season would be worth six points.
As such, it is difficult to see how Aburjania would even reach the 11 point threshold that would allow a request for his case to be heard by an exceptions panel.
More broadly, it's worth considering that these rules may also have prevented Sunderland from signing Arbenit Xhemajli last summer.
Similar to Aburjania, Xhemajli's status as a former Swiss Super League player, and an international for a Kosovo side ranked 117th in the world, would have only earned him eight points in the new scoring system.