Brazilian forward Wellington Silva has confirmed that his work permit nightmare is almost at an end - and that he will return to Arsenal by obtaining a European passport instead.
The 21-year-old, who joined Arsenal in 2011, has been unable to make a single appearance for the Gunners after the Football Association backtracked on their initial decision to hand the winger a “special talent visa”. The former Fluminense star has spent the last few years out on loan instead, and is currently with La Liga outfit Almeria.
However, speaking to Globo Esporte, Silva is optimistic that the situation will finally - after a three-year struggle - be resolved in the near future.
“It was not as I expected, but things are starting to move again,” he said. “It was tough enough, but now with the passport I can have a chance to return to Arsenal. Doors now open at any country in Europe. Now more people are watching, including Arsenal themselves.”
Silva targeting idol status at Arsenal
Silva acknowledges the fact that he is a long way off establishing himself in the Arsenal first team, but would love to emulate the likes of Thierry Henry and Robert Pires by becoming a Gunners’ idol.
"I'm very excited for the passport soon,” he added. “In two months it's ready, and the opportunities become larger. I am very happy that things are starting to happen.
"I would be very happy if I could be an idol at a club like Arsenal, but I can no longer think about it, it depends on a lot of work. But I'm working to improve my game, my experience. And I will give my best so I can be a great player. Need to think of Almeria, which is also in a tough league. I want to have a great season here so that Arsenal can see."
"I would be very happy if I could be an idol at a club like Arsenal." - Wellington Silva.
Can Wenger fit him in?
Silva has made four appearances for Almeria so far this season, but is still looking for his first goal. The former Brazil Under-17 international scored three goals in 38 appearances for Murcia last season, and three in 20 for Ponferradina - in the Spanish second tier - in the previous campaign.
The South American has also had spell with Levante and Alconyano since completing his move to Arsenal, but now hopes this latest development will finally allow him to return to England once his loan deal with Almeria expires.
Silva is certainly a player of considerable promise; however, he faces an extremely difficult task to force his way into Arsenal’s starting line-up, with competition fierce at the Emirates Stadium.
An attack-minded right-sided winger by trade, Silva would be behind both Theo Walcott and Alexis Sanchez in the pecking order. But if he obtains his EU passport in the coming weeks, there’s a chance Arsene Wenger will run the rule over the Brazilian in pre-season before deciding how to use him in the 2015-16 campaign.
[Quotes translated by Sport Witness].