With the 2020 Major League Soccer season still on pause, it’s important to remember the issues and stories revolving around playing contracts that are continuing to run down, with or without any action kicking off on the pitch.
These contracts can get particularly messy when they involve performance bonuses, play time obligations or unwritten agreements/promises that have now been messed up with no competitive play to speak of since March 7th now.
Perhaps the most notable of these messy situations is the one involving former Champions League star Jurgen Locadia and FC Cincinnati.
Expansion side FC Cincinnati have had an… unforgettable second year year in Major League Soccer. Having only been formed by Carl Lindner III in 2018, the Orange and Blue looked to build on an underwhelming 6-22 record during the 2019 season by going out in the offseason and bringing together a side filled with superstars that could finally break the usual MLS predictions reserved for the side.
Former English Premier League pro Siem De Jong, experienced Bosnian international Haris Medunjanin and the hotly-rated Yuya Kubo all came through the door in the summer, however the biggest haul would present itself in February.
With a whole plethora of goals in the English Premier League, German Bundesliga, Dutch Eredivise and the UEFA Champions League, as well a one-time transfer approach from Liverpool, under his belt, Jurgen Locadia was one of Major League Soccer’s biggest coups when he signed on the dotted line on February 23rd on a loan move until June. Cincy were suddenly catapulted to potential postseason candidates in our soccer odds and Locadia couldn’t have made a better start to life in the MLS.
He scored on his debut and won plenty of plaudits that he looked like a player set to bring some much-needed European flair to the league. In truth, it’s hard to think of a way a player with so much skill, ability and experience (at only 26 years of age) could not make a seriously big impression on the league.
Such a player obviously doesn’t come cheap however. With a successful spell at German club Hoffenheim earlier this season putting the forward on the radar of a few clubs in Europe, Cincinnati were obviously hoping for a better grasp of their new international player before splashing the cash.
Whilst the Orange and Blue are understood to have the first option to buy on Locadia, having dodged an obligatory purchase following the conclusion of his loan spell, the price tag for the Dutchman is believed to be $10 million. Brighton and Hove Albion, Locadia’s parent club, would make a loss on their initial purchase, but it would still stand as one of the biggest transfers ever made by an MLS club.
And with these times of crisis showing no signs of slowing anytime soon, clubs are holding onto their pennies and quarters as tightly as they can. With no revenue coming in, it’s looking likely that Locadia’s deal won’t be the only one with the potential to fall through.
Jurgen Locadia has never really enjoyed a brilliant relationship with Brighton and Hove Albion, and has already been fairly vocal on being ready to leave the club in the past.
Speaking about the possibility of staying on with Cincy, Locadia said:
“I had a conversation with my agent that it was my goal to stay here. He got in contact with Brighton, but it’s between the clubs now I guess. They know I want to stay here.”
“The income from every club is down, so it’s harder now to buy players or even loan for clubs. That could be a problem in the future. In my case, Cincinnati have the option to buy me out and I don’t know. I’d understand if they would not want to buy the option because it’s a crisis right now, there’s no income. My first experiences in MLS have been great though. It’s my dream to stay here. It’s my goal.”
Whilst Locadia has made his thoughts perfectly clear, it seems like, for the time being, this could be a long saga for the two clubs involved.
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