By IVES GALARCEP
It was a bittersweet January transfer window for followers of Major League Soccer, with more talent leaving the league than in any previous January, and more players departing to top leagues than ever before.
The multi-million dollar transfers of Brek Shea and Andy Najar headlined what wound up being a far busier January than anyone could have imagined. Those were the only two actual sales, but the plethora of loan deals pulled off this winter has led to an even bigger wave of departures of top talent.
There will be some trepidation about seeing two top young talents like Shea and Najar leave MLS, but their sales only serve to cement Major League Soccer’s standing as an improving league and one that top foreign leagues are increasingly interested in finding talent in.
There will also be some cause for concern over the departure of Colombian players back to Colombia, with Fredy Montero and Carlos Valdes heading over on loans. The economic situation in Colombia is improving, and the fact that the Colombian national team is doing so well right now in World Cup qualifying has Colombian soccer riding high. The departures of Montero and Valdes have as much to do with that as it does with anything MLS is doing.
Not all of the departures are ones MLS fans will feel sadly about. The Red Bulls succeeded in ridding themselves of Rafa Marquez, who has already managed to get injured and see his new team eliminated from Copa Libertadores.
And the players who didn’t make moves? Juan Agudelo’s asking price was too high for a player with only one year remaining on his MLS contract (expect him to leave on a free transfer a year from now) while Graham Zusi didn’t garner an offer from West Ham after a trial (he too seems a better bet to leave in a year if he can put together another strong season). Omar Gonzalez is also heading into the final year of his MLS deal and, like Agudelo, will almost surely test the transfer market next January.
Here is a rundown of the top MLS departures of the winter:
MLS PLAYER DEPARTURES
David Beckham to Paris St. Germain
Brek Shea to Stoke City
Andy Najar to Anderlecht
Roger Espinoza to Wigan Athletic
Juan Pablo Angel to Atletico Nacional
Rafa Marquez to Club Leon
Barry Robson to Sheffield United
Dane Richards to Burnley
Julian DeGuzman to SSV Jahn Regensburg
Branko Boskovic to Rapid Vienna
Milovan Mirosevic to Universidad Catolica
Sebastian Miranda to Everton (Chile)
Kei Kamara to Norwich City (LOAN)
Simon Dawkins to Aston Villa (LOAN)
Fredy Montero to Millonarios (LOAN)
Carlos Valdes to Santa Fe (LOAN)
Alvaro Fernandez to Al Rayyan (LOAN)
What do you think of these moves? Who are you sad to see go? Who are you happy to see leave MLS (that isn’t named Rafa Marquez)?
Share your thoughts below.