Report: Wigan look to land Espinoza

Espinoza (Getty Images)

Roger Espinoza's Olympic performance for Honduras is still lingering in the front offices of clubs in England, and it appears as if one is eager to pry him away from Sporting Kansas City prior to the close of the European summer transfer window.

According to reports from England, Premier League side Wigan Athletic is looking to make a move for Espinoza, who is in the final year of his contract with Sporting KC and MLS. Espinoza wowed scouts, coaches and fans with his showing in the Olympics, most notably in Honduras' quarterfinal bout against Brazil, in which Espinoza walked off to a standing ovation after being sent off for his second yellow card late in the game.

Espinoza, a hard-tackling, industrious central midfielder, has been a key cog for Sporting KC, helping the club to the U.S. Open Cup championship and a place atop the Eastern Conference standings. With his value at its highest and Sporting KC standing to potentially lose him for nothing after the season, though, the club has a decision to make, weighing current goals with Espinoza's transfer value.

For Sporting KC, losing Espinoza now would also mean losing two starters for the remainder of the season after Teal Bunbury was ruled out for the next 6-to-8 months with a torn ACL. The club has cover in central midfield with Paulo Nagamura, Julio Cesar and Peterson Joseph, but Espinoza, in his fifth season out of Ohio State University, has proven to be one of the league's top players at his position.

Honduras internationals are no strangers to Wigan, who have been said to have interest in D.C. United's Andy Najar as well. Veteran defender and Olympic overage player Maynor Figueroa currently plays for the Latics, and current Stoke City central midfielder Wilson Palacios played for Wigan for two seasons between 2007 and 2009. 

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What do you think of this development? Should Sporting KC look to sell Espinoza now and cash in on his value? Or is he too important to the club with an MLS Cup title within reach?

Share your thoughts below.

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40 Responses to Report: Wigan look to land Espinoza

  1. Camjam says:

    If he does go, I heard some team in New England may have just gotten a midfielder they don’t really need….

  2. Ben says:

    Depends on what they can get for him. If there is a way they can keep him until the end of the season and let him go in January for a bit less, then I’d do that.

  3. elgringorico says:

    Yes, take Espinoza! Leave Andy here!

  4. Madaoua05 says:

    He’s only 25 years old? Wow, SKC/MLS can probably get great value for him now. But is that value worth giving up on a championship run? Prolly not. So I’d get rid of him in January for $2-3 million.

  5. espy says:

    MLS contract would be done. Either this window or he can walk for free.

  6. Mouf says:

    Unless its a good transfer offer I don’t think the $ would be worth the loss for the remainder of the season. A mill to a Cerner funded team doesnt do anything

  7. espy says:

    Did you even read the article? Its either now or he can sign for free after the MLS season.

  8. Sergio says:

    Good for Espinoza. Not so good for sporting. He would do well in England.

  9. Cristian says:

    Espinoza is all class, and one of the hardest tacklers and best ball winners in the world let alone MLS. Wigan would do well to snag him up. Congrats to him if this deal goes through.

    The allure of a european contract is to great a carrot for these players and who could blame them? MLS is not there yet. KC should do the Business thing and sell him before he gone on a free. Hopefully they can work a deal for him to stay on until the end of the MLS season/playoffs, and them off he goes to greener pastures.

    The day will come very soon where kids will pine away for MLS glory, but not yet, until then MLS will just have to conceded to cash in whenever they can.

  10. yankiboy says:

    I think that Wigan would be a good fit for Espinosza.

    I think that ROberto Martinez would have a sort of mangerial style that will help nuture him and help him to raise the level of play that he will need to compete in the EPL. Having Figueroa there and Palacios there previously should instill some additional confidence in him that it is possible for him to get a fair opportunity to break into the first team.

  11. Old School says:

    So is he signing a pre-contract like Marco Pappa or is MLS actually getting some money via a transfer for his services immediately?

    Really happy for Espinoza and I think it’s a great sign for the league. That said, I’d really prefer the trend to be MLS actually making some money off developing talent, if possible. Another player walking away from the league on a free is disappointing from a financial standpoint.

  12. FreeState says:

    With Roger, SKC will likely enter the playoffs as one of the favorites for MLS Cup. There are always financial considerations but it would be a shame to take that opportunity for granted. The current owners have stated time and time again that their only goal is winning trophies and this is a great chance to show if that’s just talk or not.

    I read something in one of the UK papers about the possibility of signing a “pre-contract agreement” with Wigan. Would that potentially allow him to finish the season with SKC and then join Wigan in January?

  13. Ben says:

    Missed that. I thought he had another year left. I think you have to sell him now then, as long as Wigan aren’t offering a pittance. I guess it depends on the fans. They have great support in KC, so maybe it’s better to keep him and let him for free after if it keeps the fans happy?

  14. Charles says:

    Hey English teams that are never going to go anywhere, leave the MLS players alone please….trying to enjoy a good season here.

  15. Alex says:

    I have to say, overall, I am glad that EPL and other top tier leagues are looking at MLS talent as ready to contribute right away. Means we are in pretty good standing as far as standard of play.

  16. 20 says:

    Maynor Figueroa, Hendry Thomas, Wilson Palacios, Roger Espinoza… I wonder if Hondurans call Wigan Honduwigan, they way we used to refer to Fulham as Fulhamerica

  17. 20 says:

    I could not believe how low his salary is. $125,000 is not enough for a player of his quality. He deserves this big move.

  18. RLW2020 says:

    i feel like it has really picked up in the past 2-3 years with a handful of players constantly moving to the EPL or the championship each transfer period. In the end its always the International play that precludes the move.. but id say concacaf both international and leagues are getting a lot of respect lately.

  19. jb says:

    That’s the good part.

    The bad part is that MLS’s most talented players are getting poached more frequently, and unless they’re replaced quickly (doubtful), the quality of play in MLS will drop and MLS games will be less exciting and interesting to watch.

  20. rjrkr44krnnenwni2po33 says:

    Yes not only American talent gets sold in MLS.

  21. Steve C says:

    Once a Buckeye…. always a Buckeye. Best of luck to you, Roger!

  22. rjrkr44krnnenwni2po33 says:

    he’s being paid $125,000 at SKC. He’ll make close to a million at Wigan, no doubt.

  23. Dank says:

    Has he always played in midfield? Didn’t he used to be a pretty good left back? What position do you think Wigan will want him at?

  24. Old School says:

    Not sure what that means, exactly.

    For what it’s worth…Espinoza has played youth, to college and MLS all in America.

  25. Ja Ja James says:

    I was felt he was unfairly overlooked for a call up for the NATS. He may not have been the player he is now prior to be called up by Honduras, but he has always shown toughness with great feet along with creativity that could have helped the US. Glad to see he is getting recognized.

  26. Mingjai says:

    Yeah, it would be a good problem trying to figure out how to fit a player like Espinoza into the US midfield rotation.

  27. Dan says:

    I can only hope you’re right about the pre-contract agreement. I just can’t see SKC selling him now with their shot at the MLS Cup.

    I’d even hate to see him go in January, as I’d like to see him back next year.

  28. 19561 says:

    IVES – How do the pre-contracts work?
    Anyinsight into this as Richards just signed one with Burnley.
    Do precontracts work as player/club get a little something for taking themselves off the table even though there is no transfer fee?

    Thanks !

  29. Jay says:

    If MLS could pay more you wouldn’t have this issue or at least it be a harder decision. The way it stands as long as the cash is there players will leave.

  30. Jurgen Klinsmann says:

    Well, that is a problem more with the MLS. IT doesnt happen to the dutch leagues or the argentina leagues or etc.
    Maybe if the MLS was as concerend with youth development, youth leagues, and overall domestic player development as they are for bending over to get a team in NYC, we wouldnt have this worry.

  31. Brett says:

    Totally agree, we can afford to absorb the loss of a transfer fee (especially since we only get 2/3rds of the fee). Keep him and offer him a contract at the end of the year so Sporting retains his rights if he comes back to the MLS.

  32. Mike in Missouri says:

    Judging by how bad Robb Heinemann wanted to host the US Open Cup final, SKC is a lot more worried about winning the cup than they are the couple hundred thousand or whatever nominal transfer fee they would get for Wigan to buy him out earlier. Especially after losing Teal Sunday.

    My hunch is that SKC doesn’t sell, Roger signs a pre-contract deal (since he’s in the last 6 months of his contract) and we replace him or tweak our system over the offseason.

  33. Mario says:

    I prefer Wiganduras

  34. sagcat says:

    All this talk as though he’s a slave! MLS signed a contract with him through this year. When it’s up, it’s up. If MLS/SKC wanted him for longer, they should have signed him for longer. People are still free in this world, right? Free transfer – the way it should be.

  35. Ben says:

    True, although a couple million bucks could go a long way toward signing the high-quality striker that SKC pretty clearly lacks. I suspect you’re right that Heinemann et al will need to be floored by an offer to make the sale, but surely there’s a price where you say, “okay, losing Roger might really hurt our chances this year, but we can use that money to remain contenders down the road.” I’m not quite sure what that price might be, but I’m sure it’s out there. Also, if Espinoza makes it clear he wants to leave now (and I obviously have no idea how he feels about this), there’s no sense in keeping him here against his will.

    The flip-side, of course, is that in a town where SKC is growing in popularity among a fanbase that is completely disillusioned with the Royals for selling off every good player they ever develop, do you want to appear to be Royals Part II?

    Frankly, I’m glad I don’t have to make the decision.

  36. steve-o says:

    they can still sell him to wigan now with a stipulation that he finishes off the season and joins in january. I’ve heard of contracts like that where there’s a gentlemen’s agreement in place or something like that. because it would suck for SKC to sell now that they could push for their first title.

  37. steve-o says:

    they can still sell him to wigan now with a stipulation that he finishes off the season and joins in january. I’ve heard of contracts like that where there’s a gentlemen’s agreement in place – like when kaka went to madrid in the summer but he already knew he was leaving milan back in january.

  38. Old School says:

    wow.

    way to take it to a level no one was at.

  39. Ben says:

    Who disagrees with this? Of course Espinoza is free to do what he wants at the end of the season. He’s not free to do whatever he wants right now because he signed a contract, just like I’m not free to leave my job at a state university for an offer from the Ivy League in the middle of a semester. End of the school year, sure, but if I walked out now the school would sue the bejeezus out of me, and rightfully so. Obviously, if Espinoza absolutely wants to go, he and his future club can use various negotiating tactics to make it in SKC’s interest to surrender their contractual rights, but I don’t see anyone talking about the dude like he’s a slave. People are talking about him like he’s a highly skilled professional who has agreed to fulfill the obligations of a contract in exchange for six-figure compensation, which is what he is.

  40. K.C. says:

    Not their first title…MLS Cup and Supporter’s Shield in 2000, Open Cup in 2004 and 2012.