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Agudelo's Second Attempt to Secure a Work Permit Unsuccessful

Juan Agudelo will be contemplating his next move after his work permit was denied for a second time. Would a move back to the Revs work?

Trevor Ruszkowksi-USA TODAY Spor

Stoke City has announced that they have failed to secure a work permit for Juan Agudelo, which has reignited hopes that the 21-year-old will return to the New England Revolution.

Stoke City's courtship of Agudelo has been long and complicated. The Potters signed the talented forward to a pre-contract in the summer of 2013, several months before his MLS contract expired. In November, it was announced that Agudelo's request for a work permit had been rejected. Stoke still opted to sign Agudelo, and sent him on loan to FC Utrecht of the Eredivisie. In Holland, Agudelo had three goals and three assists in 14 appearances (eight starts).

Agudelo's time in the Dutch league still wasn't enough to earn him a work permit. His lack of consistency with Utrecht was likely a contributing factor for the denial. While the budding star scored his first goal just three games into the loan, the other two didn't come until the final three games of the season.

Another issue is that Agudelo hasn't been a regular for the US national team. Agudelo became the youngest player in national team history to score in a senior game on November 17 when he scored in his debut against South Africa. Since then he has collected 18 caps, but injures have prevented him from earning recent call-ups. His last appearance came on March 5, when he played the final six minutes against Ukraine.

Although some have called for Agudelo to make Jurgen Klinsmann's preliminary 30-man roster, it's uncertain if he will. It is clear, however, that he won't be making the move to the English Premier League.

Agudelo's future is currently in limbo. The 6'1 striker is still contracted by Stoke, but this agreement could be terminated in light of recent news. Either as a free agent or as a loan prospect, Agudelo is likely to attract interest from around the globe. He once garnered attention from clubs in Spain, Belgium and Turkey. Meanwhile, a return to the Eredivisie or MLS shouldn't be ruled out.

If Agudelo decides to revisit MLS, the Revs would have the right of first refusal since they made him a bonafide offer before his contract ended. The team could certainly use the talents of Agudelo as they haven't settled on a first-choice striker. Patrick Mullins, Teal Bunbury and Jerry Bengtson have all spent time as the lone forward, but they have only scored a goal apiece. Charlie Davies has been crucial in two Revolution goals, but has solely been used as an option off the bench.

If acquired, Agudelo would instantly increase the competition and quality at the forward position. During his time with the Revs, he contributed seven goals and one assist in 14 games played (11 starts). The chemistry he established with players like Diego Faundez, Kelyn Rowe and Lee Nguyen was impressive as they moved and combined liberally. Agudelo's arrival instantly made the Revolution's attack one of the most entertaining and potent in the league. He would be just as valuable now if he decided to return to New England.

Agudelo could be motivated to make the move back stateside because of the recent examples set by Maurice Edu, Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey. These players still had European options, but opted to rejoin the domestic league. There has also been rumors that young stars like Mix Diskerud, Jozy Altidore and Sacha Kljestan might sign with MLS.

Of course, Agudelo has continuously expressed his desire to play in Europe, so he might view a move back to MLS as a step in the wrong direction. Agudelo is still young, and there is plenty to experience in Europe. Furthermore, his technical play will likely attract several suitors.

Whether it's a move back to MLS or to another European club, Agudelo has to think about staying healthy and playing consistently. He's still one of the best young prospects in the US player pool, but he has yet to establish himself as a consistent starter. His next move should be a long-term one as he sets his sights on the 2018 World Cup.