The confirmation of the widespread reports that Sounders FC star striker Fredy Montero is being loaned from the club to Millonarios FC of Bogota, Colombia today makes Rod Nicholl’s article from January 3rd interesting reading again.
According to General Manager Hanauer’s statement the loan is not for six months but for the full year.
Here is Rod’s article again.
Who Wants to be a Millonarios? Fredy
by Rod Nicholls
The First Weeks of Sounders FC v 2.0 Starts Off With A Lot of Unknowns
The reported terms on Futbolred and soccerbyives of the pending deal are that it will start with a six month loan.
There will be an option for a second six month loan period plus an option for Millonarios to purchase Fredy outright at US$4.5 million.
To date the club has been silent, and it is assumed they are waiting for Fredy to return to Seattle to complete paperwork on this side of the transaction along with finalizing personal terms for the deal with Millonarios.
After Fredy’s 4th consecutive playoff appearance without scoring and growing rumors of ego driven attitude problems in the locker room, this is a transfer, that by many accounts, has to be completed for the good of Sounders FC.
However, the reported terms of the deal, with all of its inherent “what ifs” and “and buts” on its face, make the Sounders FC look like they may not have had a very strong poker hand in selling him. With this in mind let’s break the deal down for the respective stakeholders:
Benefits for the Sounders:
1) Frees up a Designated Player slot that could be used for an upgrade in talent level.
2) Theoretically, the Sounders will receive some Allocation Money from the MLS to help with its very tight Salary Cap issues.
3) Moves a star player out of the club house that is rumored to have personality clashes with another of the club’s most productive star players.
Questions / Risks for the Sounders:
1) Right now it is only a six month loan, what happens if Fredy fails to make an impression at his new ground and Millonarios declines his options and Fredy is returned.
This presents problems if Sounders by then have signed a new third DP. We are of course assuming that his absence will not be filled by those currently at the club.
There is another scenario that emerges if the Colombian club returns him. What effect would such a failure have on the market value of a former star player of the club, who has expressed his desire to leave?
Are Sounders left holding the rights to a player whose stock has largely diminished and does not want to be at the club?
2) What, if the MLS interprets its Allocation Money rules in such a manner that little or no allocation dollars are given to the club until such time as the purchase option is actually exercised.
This leaves the club with a giant hole to fill, with only the DP slot to fill it. Can the club trade in Fredy for a higher quality player, or is it just trading a devil it knows for a devil it does not know?
3) How and with whom are they going to replace Fredy?
Is this going to be a transaction like the Eddie Johnson transaction where the subtraction of two (Lamar Neagle and Mike Fucito), plus the addition of one (Eddie Johnson) equaled essentially a plus five for the club; or is this going to be a Freddie Ljungberg for Blaise Nkufo move?
In that instance, a highly talented but egotistical underperforming star that was poisoning the locker room was traded for a highly talented star looking for a retirement payoff that also ended up poisoning the locker room.
It was a like for like of the worst kind.
Benefits to Fredy Montero:
1) Return to his homeland, where the style of play and referees may be more naturally suited to his style and pace of play.
2) Millonarios are the current Colombian Champion and as such have qualified for the current Copa Bridgestone Libertadores de América tournament, arguably the second most prestigious club competition behind UEFA’s Champions League.
Montero has expressly stated the opportunity to play in this competition is one of the main driving reasons for this transfer.
Risks to Fredy Montero:
1) His production is similar to his time in Seattle or worse and Millionarios decline one or both of his options. He could be faced with having to return to club he specifically asked to leave, and will have potentially severely dented his transfer market value – not to mention damaged his relationships with the club’s supporters, players and coaches.
2) He is not selected for first team action by the Millionarios and he rides the bench in Colombia.
This would likely lead to him not seeing any playing time in the Copa Libertadores and likely further lead to a decline in the purchase option, hence returning him back to Seattle, with a wounded market value to a club he does not want to be at.
Over the last few weeks as this potential transfer has emerged through internet reports, the Sounders FO has remained highly professional and rightfully stayed silent on the matter.
This warranted silence combined with all of the questions and risks identified above leave the club with a transfer that looks like a mixed bag at best.
The Montero transfer, when combined with the trade of Jeff Parke to the Philadelphia Union, the trial of Osvaldo Alonso at West Ham United in the English Premier League is potentially a worrying turn of events for Sounders supporters.
It looks like the spine of starting XI for the club is being hollowed out, without any idea or concept on where the club is heading to improve its roster from that which ended the 2012 campaign.
The good news is that it is only the very start of the silly season for Sounders FC 2.0, and Adrian Hanauer, Chris Henderson and Sigi Schmid have been fairly good at making high risk personnel moves; whether by outright making a great call, (i.e. Mauro Rosales, Michael Gspurning, Eddie Johnson, Andy Rose and Alex Caskey as examples) or by smartly cutting their losses and limiting damages when they make a less positive personnel move (i.e. Freddie Ljungberg, Blaise Nkufo & Christian Sivebaek).
The bad news, absent a charitable Allocation Money dispersal for a loan of Montero by MLS, it might be difficult for the Sounders to keep pace in the league wide talent race.
This is potentially very disconcerting since MLS, despite the uninformed comments of Sepp Blatter, is raising its talent and quality at a rapid pace each year across the league as evinced by the arrival of an Ecuadorian international defender Diego Calderón at Colorado this morning. This player at just 26 has won three league titles in Ecuador and the Copa Libertadores yet his arrival hardly caused the type of ripple it might have done five years ago.
Calderón already holds a winners medal in the competition that Montero merely dreams of playing in, fact that proves that the trading arc for MLS, and hopefully the Sounders, is trending up.
Sounders, who after all finished seventh in the MLS Final table, largely stood still from the side that won seven points more in 2011. With Parke gone, Alonso in doubt, and Montero probably leaving they are behind even that at this point.
It is my prediction that this off season will finally show the true skill and quality of the Sounders FO, especially Hanauer and Henderson who will need to demonstrate more acuity than in seasons before to return this club to a top three and potential MLS winning side.