Mark Hughes says Stoke have paid the price for Greg Dyke's focus on increasing the number of English players in the Premier League after he was forced to concede defeat in his hopes of signing Juan Agudelo, reports SkySports.
The Potters were confident United States striker Agudelo would be granted a work permit, but the 20-year-old's case was rejected with no right to appeal.
"We are really disappointed with the decision," said Hughes, who also expressed his frustration that the reasons for the rejection were not given.
"If I'm honest, I think there's lesser players been allowed in at previous work permit applications than Juan Agudelo. I just think maybe the goalposts have been changed somewhat.
"Obviously there was a statement by Mr Greg Dyke in terms of what he felt was lacking in the game and maybe the committee has taken that on board. Unfortunately we were the first work permit hearing after those statements.
"You look at the criteria and he hadn't played as many games as they need to but other factors have to be taken into consideration - obviously his age and his injuries, which stopped him being selected - so there were reasons why he hadn't played the full complement of international matches.
"I felt that should have been taken into consideration and his ability as a player and the impact that he would have had for us should have been factored in, but it didn't seem to register.
"He's a very focused and determined young man, he wanted to progress his career, and I felt and he felt this was the perfect club for him. No doubt somebody in Europe will pick him up and he'll be a sensation somewhere else unfortunately."
The decision forces a rethink by Hughes on his plans for the January transfer window, but a striker remains the priority.
He said: "We're still in the market for other players, the focus hasn't all been on one player. But January isn't easy to navigate, so we'll just have to hope we get a little bit of luck.
"We've been looking for another striker to complement the ones we have since the summer, that's not a secret, so we continue to look in those areas."
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