Newcastle eye Reggae Boy Kemar Lawrence
There is a growing interest for Reggae Boyz left-back Kemar Lawrence, who is said to be on the watch list of English Premier League (EPL) outfit Newcastle United, according to the website SBANATION.com.
However, the club's interest in the player could be derailed by the same work permit requirements that prevent Jamaica senior football team captain Rodolph Austin from taking up a lucrative contract with English Championship side Sheffield Wednesday recently.
Although the MLS' transfer window is already closed, rumour has it that Newcastle are eyeing New York Red Bull's player and Jamaican international, Lawrence, though securing a deal could be problematic.
English Premier League clubs have until September 1 to sign players from outside England. So even though the MLS transfer window shuts on August 6, teams in England can still sign a player from the MLS, as a league transfer window only applies to players coming in, not to those heading out.
The main obstacle for the deal is the new work permit laws. The English Football Association recently announced plans to stem the influx of foreign internationals coming into their leagues and Austin became a casualty of the new work permit regulations.
The Jamaican has more than 70 international caps, having made his national debut in 2004. He also has more than 100 appearances for Leeds.
The new regulation states that only foreign players who have been regularly selected for international teams in FIFA's top-50 rankings can be granted a work permit. Jamaica hasn't been in the top 50 for some time, though they climbed 21 places to currently sit at 55.
Exception to the law
The website also states that if Sheffield Wednesday are serious in their effort to sign Lawrence, a case might be open to Newcastle, as there are exceptions (to the work permit law). But, unfortunately, there is no confidence in the appeal process to work any more.
Lawrence has been on a hot run of form recently. His performances in the Copa America won praise from influential observers and his contribution to Jamaica's run to the Gold Cup final earned him a place in several Best XI selections after the tournament (Fox sports and Goal.com, for example).
Many suggest Lawrence is the best left back in CONCACAF on current form and if his work in MLS continues to be worthy, chances are he is going to be given the chance to test himself at a higher level than MLS sooner, rather than later.