U.S. national team forward Jozy Altidore has been sold to Spanish club Villarreal for a fee of $8 million, sources with knowledge of the deal confirmed on Wednesday afternoon.
The New York Red Bulls confirmed that they have reached an agreement with Villarreal on the fee. Sources tell SBI that the fee is $8 million with a sell-on clause and performance bonuses that could increase the fee to $10 million.
According to sources, Altidore has already reached an agreement on a new contract.
The sale shatters the old record for largest transfer of an MLS player, which was set when Clint Dempsey went from the New England Revolution to Fulham after the 2006 season.
The deal has been agree to in principle, but cannot become official until July 1, when the European transfer window opens.
Altidore is still expected to play in the Red Bulls match against Chivas USA on Thursday.
What do I think of the move? I think it’s a dream move for a player who was ready for the jump. Yes, he did lose focus and was distracted by the impending European move, so he wasn’t training or playing as well as he could have been for the Red Bulls, but he’s still a good kid and quality prospect who could flourish in Spain (and let’s face it, older and more experienced players have fallen victim to Europe-itis as well).
I have said for more than a year now that I thought Spain was the best league for him to go to and now not only will he be there but he will go to a smaller team where he can get playing time (assuming the scenario where Villarreal loans him to Recreativo Huelva happens.)
What will this mean for the Red Bulls? The team will be hard-pressed to replace him, but will have resources to bolster the team in several areas. They won’t find a player as good as Altidore this year, but they will have the chance to add multiple upgrades this summer and will have a nice war chest to go and sign a high-profile designated player in 2009.
I also think that ultimately, losing Altidore early and getting a chance to replace him this season could have its advantages. Altidore was slated to miss considerable time with U.S. national and Olympic team duties, so now the club will be able to acquire a player who will be here the full schedule and who presumably won’t be distracted by an impending move to Europe.
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