Kamara attracting European suitors as Sporting KC wait on Norwich City decision

KeiKamaraNorwich (Getty)

By IVES GALARCEP

Sporting Kansas City are not just riding high on the MLS playing field, with five straight shutouts and a run that has propelled them into first place in the Eastern Conference. They are also seeing one of their investments gain considerable value by the day.

Kei Kamara’s successful loan stint with English Premier League side Norwich City has not only made it a very real possibility that Norwich will trigger the purchase option on Kamara, it has also helped Kamara garner attention from several teams in Europe.

Recent reports have suggested that Norwich City have left Sporting KC in limbo because of a delay in deciding on whether to buy Kamara’s rights outright, but the reality of the situation is that Kamara’s successful stint in the EPL has impressed several clubs, including teams in the English Premier Leagues, who have begun to call inquiring about his services.

“If he’s going to come back obviously we’ll welcome him with open arms, he’s part of our club, but let’s be honest, every since he’s gotten fit (at Norwich City) he’s started every game and they’ve had some success with them on the field,” Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes told SBI on Wednesday night. “What has really come of it, and they don’t have to make a decision until May, but what’s really come of it is we have two other teams in the EPL have reached out to us and the league, and we have a few other teams from France.

“He’s now in an envious position because I think he’s going to have a lot of suitors come here in a short period of time come the summer window.”

Norwich City have a purchase option as part of Kamara’s loan, and have until early May (some reports suggest May 6th) to trigger the full transfer. So why hasn’t the team made a move to trigger their option yet? The Canaries are currently just four points clear of the relegation zone (with Wigan having a game in hand on Norwich City).

A poorly-timed slump could see the club relegated, so it makes sense if Norwich City isn’t in a rush to commit to Kamara until it the team has a better foothold in the standings. Sporting Kansas City is already weighing other options in case Norwich City backs out, or if Kamara decides he does not want to stay with Norwich City.

“(Norwich City) have an option, but if they slow up the process it’s a simple one,” Vermes said. “We have other suitors so we can go that way pretty quickly. They’re going to have to make some decisions, and we’re evaluating the other interest that has come in.

“We signed Kei to an extension so it’s not like we’re trying to hurry it up because we can still have him for the rest of the year, Vermes said. “It’s not the summer window,” Vermes said. “We did that on purpose because we wanted to make sure that they weren’t trying to stretch us out while we’re trying to do other deals.”

In short, even if Norwich chooses not to buy Kamara outright, or if Kamara decides he doesn’t want to stay at Norwich, Kamara will have a number of European suitors ready to seal a transfer move this summer. In the meantime, Kamara could return to Sporting KC in early May and play with the team until a transfer is completed.

Sporting KC is prepared for either contingency. If he stays for the remainder of the season, the Sporting will become even that much more dangerous and an even stronger MLS Cup contender. If Norwich buys him, or if the team sells him this summer, they will have the resources to bolster their already-potent roster even further before the playoffs.

“We have prepared for this situation,” Vermes said. “We feel like we have players who are good enough to attract strong interest from abroad and we like having players who have that ambition to play in bigger leagues. We know this is a business and it is our job to make sure we make the most out of the quality we have on our team.”

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44 Responses to Kamara attracting European suitors as Sporting KC wait on Norwich City decision

  1. patrick says:

    really couldn’t happen to a better guy. He’s everything that’s right with the MLS and the way SKC is handling this is nothing short of exemplary. Now, lets hope MLS doesn’t get in the way.

    • Old School says:

      “Now, lets hope MLS doesn’t get in the way.”

      He’s not American, so I MLS will play hardball.

    • Dan says:

      I’m not saying MLS should get in the way but at what point does MLS say “we need to keep talent here in MLS”. How is it that Tim Cahill is worth $3 million but Kei isn’t? Are we just going to be a feeder league? Every season the league loses 4 marquee players and fan favorites? That is no way to build a successful league or fan base.

      • Eddie R says:

        @Dan There are only 4 or leagues in the world that aren’t feeder leagues. It’s just how things are.

  2. Josh says:

    If he stays, he’ll get to live out his dream and will likely earn time somewhere even if it’s not Norwich. If he comes back, it starts to deplete the growth SKC needs from guys like Sapong and Bunbury. Zusi is on top of the league and Bieler has shown to be a capable goal scorer, the only spot left up front is on the left where Sapong is and Bunbury will fight for. Putting Kei in that spot would make a very formidable front three. But long run, the young guys need to play to improve.

    Whatever happens, everybody in KC is happy for Kei no matter what happens and it was great to see him grow to the player he is during his SKC stint

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      I don’t think SKC is rebuilding, so it doesn’t make sense to brush aside someone older and more productive on the theory that the younger, less proven players need their chance. It’s only if the team or older player are struggling that you want to know whether the next generation is ready or not.

      I find the whole thing amusing because after this current EPL loanee got in Kinnear’s doghouse he was traded to KC for Abe Thompson, who was soon in the minors and is now retired. Kind of like how we traded double golden boot and 2012 MVP Wondo for Cam Weaver, who doesn’t have a league goal since May 2011; or traded the MVP immediately before him (DeRo) for Julius James, who is also now in the minors.

      The implicit threat to sell Kamara elsewhere rings somewhat hollow because Norwich has first refusal at a presumably set price. They either want him at the price or not. Now if they elected not to pay the set price, he could be retained by SKC or sold elsewhere, and in theory Norwich could bid. But realistically someone else would have to be willing to pay, and Norwich would likely not join a bidding war for a player whom they weren’t willing to sign at the set price. The whole point to the option is to escape that scenario.

      I’ll be interested what Norwich does, whether this is more “Landon” (they pass on paying despite performance) or “Najar.” (signed) He does seem to make an impression when he’s on but he has only one goal. Regardless, I think his performance, as well as the performance of some other recent MLS loanees and transfers, ought to give the Eurosnobs some pause.

      • Josh says:

        I’m not saying SKC is rebuilding. Clearly they are a talented group with the ability to perform well right now. But if you’re not looking at younger talent trying to get them better, that’s a problem teams hit very quickly. With guys like Besler and Zusi on the roster who will likely want to hit one of the top leagues before too long, you always need to be looking for younger talent to grow. That’s why I said Kei with Zusi and Bieler would be a formidable front.

        As for Norwich seemingly having a “better price” than the market price, that’s not a fair assessment at this point. Norwich is still fighting for relegation, and we all know the financial difference between the EPL and the Championship are astronomical. The Championship is also considering a salary cap that may not allow for the level of salary Kamara might be worthy. Until they have a better idea of where they will end up next year, it’s hard to fault them for wanting to delay financial decisions.

        Kei has one goal and one assist in 5 starts. That’s not that bad of a start in the league. Not a huge number, but this team isn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut (31 total, 5 for leading scorer)

        As for the Dynamo stuff. I dunno man, that’s on Dom.

        • The Imperative Voice says:

          This phenomenon occurs on both ends of MLS benches. You have players with talent that want off the bench, and you have reservists with talent who want to just dress. KC plays them plenty and they produce some, so this is not really about lack of PT. I think it’s more about, if you want to start on that team, you have to be better than the next option, and if Bieler can get 4 goals in just this little and they manage 5-9 a whole season, the answer is obvious.

          To me, if they are decently productive, their best hope is to be traded someplace else, not for KC to undercut their own progress by taking a backwards step to forwards who haven’t beat Houston in two years.

          I think Kamara has earned respect with Norwich, however he was brought in to reverse their goal scoring woes, which may mean that even as well as he’s played, they may say, what we need is goals not just excitement, and we think based on this you’re an interesting player but not the goalscorer we need. As well as he’s played they remain on the edge of relegation. The quickest way to repeat that is to bring everyone back; just like KC will probably be good but not great if they go back to Sapong and Bunbury.

    • Mike in Missouri says:

      You could replace Sapong with Kamara. You could also replace Zusi with Kamara and push Zusi back into the midfield and replace probably Nagamura or Rosell. However, don’t think anyone wants Rosell to sit and replacing Nagamura would lead to a difference in style of play just as we’re getting this one down. Zusi for Feilhaber would be easiest, but don’t want that either.

      Good problems to have.

  3. mo money says:

    Best case scenario for me; Kei comes back for SKC reunion and finishes this season – winning the MLS Cup. Then he gets signed full time by the EPL

  4. ChrisTheLSUTiger says:

    I hope MLS goes with this model in the future: short term loans to (hopefully) raise the value of MLS products before they are sold to European teams who otherwise may have been more skeptical.

    • orga says:

      and if the loanees happen to flop or become injured?

    • Jacknut says:

      They were doing the same thing about 12 years ago. Ben Olsen’s injury and subsequent long recovery made them question the wisdom of continuing that program.

    • The Imperative Voice says:

      Actually, I think Kamara suggests the breakdown of your model. As well as Landon and Cameron and Shea. MLS players are now showing well enough they are attractive to EPL sides, but the tier of EPL sides that wants the players is not necessarily willing to pay the asking price. Even Dempsey got caught up in the price Catch 22, The perceived quality is pushing the asking price beyond the bargain basement that intially made us attractive. That may actually push things in the direction of free transfers like Espinoza.

      Also, I think allowing suitors to rent to own is a sign of weakness. EPL teams tend to sell assets and loan kids. At the risk of losing a sale, I’d be more like Cameron and Shea, you want them, buy em. What if, like Everton before them, Norwich passes on their cult-favorite loan player? We just took all the risk and aren’t that much closer to selling. The whole process here kills the leverage: we can threaten to sell Kamara someplace else but we don’t even have the right to unless they pass first.

    • Old School says:

      Not even remotely a fan of the loan to sign model.

      If there’s interest, ramp up your sales pitch and make a deal. Loan deals only help the club that gets the loanee, not the league/club doing the loaning.

      There’s a chance of injury, disappointment, not fitting in. There’s more that could go wrong, then right.

      If he confirms the reason they were interested in his services during his loan spell, he should have been signed long term to begin with.

      Not a fan and never will be. Sh*t or get off the pot…we’re not charity.

      • maxq says:

        Except it’s not a charity, Norwich are paying SKC and the league a handsome loan fee for Kei’s services.

      • Railroad436 says:

        The loan with an option to buy is something that SKC wanted. It allows Kei to get his feet wet and fulfill a dream while SKC gets paid for it. If Kei ends up being bought, they get a handsome fee to acquire another player. If they comes back, they get their player back for the majority of the season and got some cash to work with while he was gone. This system is basically an everyone wins type of situation no matter what happens. Pretty much everyone gets what they want so I dont know how it is a bad thing. This is the kind of thing that will make SKC look more attractive to players since they dont hold guys back from pursuing their dreams. RH and PV know this and that is why they did it. RH actually sent out a letter explaining why they did it shortly after the deal was done.

  5. orga says:

    2.5 million and he’s gone

    MLS is now a feeder league directly to the EPL

    • patrick says:

      the number of leagues that ISNT true about is basically 5, if you include mexico

    • natet93 says:

      Every league besides La Liga and arguably the Bundesliga is becoming that so its really not a bad thing to have that title

      • Anthony says:

        I wouldn’t necessarily say that although I see your logic; 2 teams in the UEFA CL are from La Liga and the other 2 are from the Bundesliga. There are destination TEAMS more so (and some leagues to a lesser extent as well).

        As good as the Bundesliga is, Bayern is the destination team there and other players are trying to go there or other destination teams in other leagues.

        Granted, there is still the appeal of playing in EPL because it is considered the best league in the world in terms of competitiveness, and La Liga/Bundesliga/Serie A/Ligue Un because of traditional ties etc.

        However, there are just my postulations…

  6. 34d5 says:

    Kamara only scored 1 goal in like 6/7 appearances. how is that good?

    but seriously what effect has he had on the club while there?

    • EasyE says:

      he’s show he can play with the big boys. always look for the ball and busting a gut. pretty sure he has 1 goal and 1 assist

    • danny says:

      To be fair its 1 goal, 1 assist and THE assist should have been his goal yet his own player happened to be standing on the goal line to flick it in.

  7. x2 says:

    how are Marco Pappa and the dude at Wigan doing?

    • EasyE says:

      Pappa barely sees the field. Espinoza got some burn during the year but I thought he got injured; may have fallen out of favor

  8. x2 says:

    Kamara should be patient. He makes i believe $200 K at SKC, Norwich will pay him probably 800 K- a million dollars a year and it will make him a definite starter for his NT

    • Josh says:

      NT isn’t a concern, he’s been a main figure at Sierra Leone for years. I believe he’s up to captain at this time too.

  9. patrick says:

    as a team, Norwich as only scored 31 times, so really any goals are going to be welcomed with open arms. They’ve also earned 20% of their points (7) since he’s joined, and have only lost to man U, arsenal and wigan. They’ve played much better since he’s joined, and apparently, many believe it’s BECAUSE he joined.

  10. DC Josh says:

    Good for Kamara. He is obviously staying in Europe as he at the least has a spot at Norwich. A move to France would be great.

  11. MA1 Rodriguez says:

    With all these transfers, yet no impact increase in salary cap!

    • drew11 says:

      Apparently you haven’t noticed the empty MLS stadiums so far this year. MLS can announce whatever attendance they want but BIS are way down.

      • Dan says:

        This is a Catch 22 argument. Should SKC sell Kamara? How about Zusi?
        They’ll have more in their pocket but fewer people in the stands. Also, a long winter has been a big factor in attendance which is ALWAYS down at the beginning of the MLS season.

        • Man from the Prairie says:

          I believe that Zusi will be out of contract with SKC at the end of the season this year.

      • DJ777 says:

        TV viewers are much more important than full stadiums.

  12. Mike V. says:

    Win-win situation for all involved. SKC is doing well without Kei and they seem to be transitioning into a slightly different team than previous. It looks like they are prepared to move on without Kei. Good forsight and planning from SKC’s management. It’s a win for Kei as he’s earned a permanent stay in Norwich or even better yet, his play has opened up other avenues. This is the perfect storm. It really is. This is playing out like MLS loans should. I couldn’t be happier for Kei. I’m alsohappy for SKC, Kei’s rise and development is another feather to stick in their cap.