Sporting KC and United States national team defender Matt Besler is ready to say “thanks but no thanks” to interest from around Europe’s top leagues to stay in Major League Soccer.
It’s been just a few days since Besler, 27, confirmed interest from Sunderland and Fulham, stating no preference but asking for a quick resolution to the issue.
Now a report from the Kansas City Star’s Sam McDowell says Besler would turn down any European interest in order to sign a long, lucrative deal that would keep him at Sporting Park through the prime years of his career.
From the Kansas City Star:
While Besler previously conveyed interest in an opportunity to transfer overseas — an option his agent said remains in play — he would rather sign a new long-term contract to remain with his hometown club, the source said.
Eddie Rock, Besler’s agent, said his client has not dismissed the possibility of playing overseas. He declined to comment when asked if Besler is leaning one way or the other, but he acknowledged productive conversations with Sporting Kansas City over the past week as the two sides look to reach an agreement on a new contract.
Besler is under contract through the 2015 season but is searching for a raise from his $220,000 salary, which makes him the league’s 32nd-highest paid defender in Major League Soccer.
“Matt has continued to engage in discussions with the owners and executives,” Rock said. “Talks are in an advanced stage.”
A decision will be reached by the end of the weekend, as Rock doubled down on his client’s desire for a quick resolution. Besler has been at KC since departing Notre Dame in 2008 and has played 137 games for the reigning champions, currently boasting the most points and least goals allowed in the Eastern Conference.
So what’s the catch for KC? How much money is Besler looking for? His agent says he’s not looking to be the highest-paid defender in the league, while the source told McDowell that Besler is looking for less than $1 million per season.
The 6-foot-1 Besler will be 31 at the time of the 2018 World Cup, so the story begs the question of whether Jurgen Klinsmann would be okay with his starting center back staying in Major League Soccer. Klinsmann recently used Facebook to implore players to “add to the competition level“, which some took as another nod to the coach’s preference for European competition.
And we have to ask whether part of this could be a smoke screen, as also of note in the report is that KC has not received a tempting bid for Besler, according to head coach Peter Vermes. With Besler under contract with KC, it would follow suit that his agent should take advantage of his client’s World Cup performance in any way possible. If there hasn’t been a suitable offer from overseas, Rock’s job is a Besler raise and contract stability.
There’s undoubtedly a market for Besler’s services, and this report takes the conversation fodder for MLS fans up to the next level. Turning down a move to Europe to stay home is admirable for his club and league and Besler, by all accounts one of the ‘good guys’, has earned the right to do whatever he sees fit.
He’s also earned the right to ask for a raise. Could be win-win-win for MLS, KC and MB.