The 2014 World Cup saw several MLS players enjoy strong tournaments, and now the subsequent transfer interest could see some leave the league this summer.
As many as four MLS players could be parlaying a strong tournament into transfer moves and the league stands to reap the financial rewards of those efforts. Assuming, of course, that MLS is ready to part with four of the league’s top players.
U.S. national team players DeAndre Yedlin, Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez and Costa Rican defender Giancarlo Gonzalez all left Brazil with growing lists of suitors interested in their services. All four could wind up leaving MLS this summer, but only if the league is ready to let all four go, which isn’t a foregone conclusion.
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If MLS has learned anything in recent years, it is that it is better to sell when the market is hot, rather than holding on too long and asking for unrealistic transfer prices, only to see either their stock diminish or see the player leave on a free transfer (see Juan Agudelo).
Here is a closer look at the cases for the four aforementioned MLS players, and what lies ahead for each of them:
If you are a 20-year-old player who shines at the World Cup, flashing blazing speed and a marketable look, chances are the clubs are going to line up to inquire about your services. Yedlin did just that in Brazil, and now teams from across Europe are calling about one of the U.S. national team’s biggest World Cup bright spots.
The Seattle Sounders aren’t going to let Yedlin go cheaply, but from a business standpoint it could make sense if a good-sized offer comes along. Yedlin’s stock isn’t going to go any higher, and having him return to action in MLS just might lead to diminished interest. It is easy to forget that before the World Cup Yedlin had actually endured some of his worst performances. Seattle has a ready-made replacement at right back in Brad Evans, so the timing is perfect to sell the team’s first homegrown player.
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When the LA Galaxy center back signed the most lucrative contract in MLS history for a defender, it was seen as a steep price paid for a talented young player. The reality is that it was also a form of insurance for both the Galaxy and MLS for a defender who was heading toward a World Cup at a prime age. Gonzalez did his part, playing very well in two World Cup starts, and now that his form has sparked transfer interest, MLS and the Galaxy stand to recoup their investment and then some.
Mexican clubs are very interested in Gonzalez, with Cruz Azul believed to be a serious suitor. Sources tell Goal that Gonzalez’s contract has a transfer-release trigger believed to be less than $4 million, so a move seems very likely for him this summer.
The rest of the soccer world saw what American soccer fans have known for a while: Besler is the U.S. national team’s best center back by some margin, and he’s capable of playing at a higher level. Aside from a crucial breakdown in extra time against Belgium, Besler had an outstanding World Cup and is now set to reap the rewards of that showing.
Besler signed what many around MLS believed to be one of the worst contracts in recent memory before the 2013 MLS season, but his decision to give Sporting Kansas City a pretty steep hometown discount could pay off handsomely. Sporting KC is weighing transfer offers from Germany and England, among other countries.
“It would be a dream of mine to play my entire career (at Sporting Kansas City). That’s one of my dreams,” Besler told local media Sunday. “But you have other dreams, as well. Maybe one of my other dreams could be to play in Europe. If that’s one of my dreams, that’s something I have to think about.”
With Sporting Kansas City known as a team that doesn’t stand in the way of players making transfer moves (see Kei Kamara and Uri Rosell), look for Besler to make the move overseas this summer, even if it puts a serious dent in Sporting KC’s chances of repeating as MLS Cup champion.
It can be argued that Gonzalez was the most impressive MLS player at the World Cup, and after playing a pivotal role in Costa Rica’s inspiring run to the quarterfinals, there are certain to be offers for the 26-year-old center back.
The difference between Gonzalez and the other players on this list, aside from being the lone non-U.S. player, is that Gonzalez just joined the Crew this past winter. Columbus may not be in a hurry to part with a player who has so clearly been a blockbuster addition. That being said, Columbus is in dire need of attacking help, and the right-sized transfer offer might make coach Gregg Berhalter consider a move if it means helping revamp need areas on the squad.