The New York Red Bulls had big plans for Juan Agudelo. Unfortunately, the young forward had different ideas.
After making only four appearances in the Red Bulls' opening 10 games, Agudelo privately requested to general manager Erik Soler that he be dealt to a team where he could feature more.
"It is important to say that initiative for this trade was not in our hands," Soler said. "I've had conversations with Juan for a long time about his future and development. It had become that he felt his development as a player would be better if he played somewhere else."
Soler was adamant that he didn't want to move Agudelo and saw a bright future for the 19-year-old. He revealed that over the past two seasons, the Red Bulls had received several transfer offers from Europe all of which were turned down.
"We had offers from overseas for the past two years for Juan and we turned down each of them," said Soler.
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Soler said that the timing of the trade had a lot to do with Thierry Henry's expected return this week. Both Henry and fellow striker Kenny Cooper are on pace for career years with New York, which has played a major role in Agudelo's diminished minutes.
"The fact that Kenny Cooper has had huge success made the decision easier for us," Soler stated.
Agudelo's exit will prompt the Red Bulls to be aggressive in shoring up two positions, according to Soler. As long suspected, the team will be looking for an attacking midfielder and will also be on the market for a backup striker.
With Tim Ream's transfer to Bolton and Agudelo's trade to Chivas USA, Soler was again confronted with questions on whether or not the Red Bulls were holding on to their developing young talent. The Norwegian rebuffed those claims pointing to the team starting young Ryan Meara and Bardon Barklage as evidence of being committed to developing American players.
He admits that the Red Bulls' move for defender Heath Pearce signals an intent to win the MLS Cup this season.
"Last year, we had more goals than Los Angeles but they had the best defense," said Soler. "They lost one center back and you see the difference."
While left back is Pearce's preferred position, Soler envisions the United States international as a player who can fit in multiple areas of the field, including center back and holding midfielder. The latter position will especially be useful considering Teemu Tainio's recent injury that will force him out for two months.
The Red Bulls might not be finished in making moves.
After months of insisting that Rafa Marquez was untouchable, Soler used less certain terms to describe the Mexican international's future with the club. It has been reported that Marquez's agent, Jorge Mendes, was at Red Bulls training on Wednesday. Instead of having the steadfast denials from just a month ago, Soler said the Red Bulls have no plans of selling Marquez t "at the moment."