As the new year gets closer, the transfer rumors are becoming more concrete. The LA Galaxy has made official offers for DP-caliber players, but are finding resistance as they aim to take the roster to the next level. Fortunately, Will Kuntz continues to prove that the Galaxy is more competent than ever.
Carson, CA – The holiday break was short-lived at Dignity Health Sports Park. Kuntz and co. have been busy trying to make the acquisitions that will drag the LA Galaxy out of the decade-long slump.
The most recent signing was announced today by Tom Bogert. The LA Galaxy signed 2022 MLS Cup MVP John McCarthy on a free transfer from rivals LAFC. McCarthy was earning $121,667 with LAFC, a significant discount from Jonathan Klinsmann, who was earning $200k/year before being released this offseason.
While more moves will be announced shortly, this probably indicates the departure of Jonathan Bond. Thanks to his status as a US citizen and high salary ($525,833/year), Bond is a valuable MLS player. If Kuntz can offload him, the Galaxy will relieve some pressure on their salary cap.
If Bond does leave Los Angeles, Serbian goalkeeper Novak Mićović will likely take over the number-one role at the LA Galaxy. Mićović is currently on loan from Serbian Superliga side FK Čukarički with a club option to make the loan permanent. He earned a few starts last season and looked more than capable of keeping a safe net.
After signing the man who will give Mićović competition, the Galaxy has set its eyes on securing at least one Designated Player.
Those who read Kuntz’s Kitchen will know that the LA Galaxy submitted a record-breaking offer to Argentina’s CA Talleres for 24-year-old winger Ramón Sosa.
César Luis Merlo, a top voice on transfers in the Western Hemisphere, confirmed that the official figure was $12M. This offer was rejected almost immediately and it was reported that Talleres wanted at least $15M for the player.
A brief look at Sosa’s contract with Talleres will reveal why the club is set on $15M as the minimum fee for Sosa. According to the terms Talleres agreed with Sosa’s parent club, Chile’s Colo Colo, the Argentine club will receive 70% of the figure the player is sold for.
At a fee of $15M Talleres would receive $10.5M for Sosa. Club president Andrés Fassi isn’t interested in discussing the possibility of allowing Sosa to leave if it means his club would receive a penny less. Talleres is also fielding interest in Sosa from Everton and seems intent on pocketing at least $10M for themselves.
According to the information that’s currently available, talks between the Galaxy and Talleres are still underway. However, they’ve likely slowed down a bit within the last week, as recent reports revealed that LA has a new target.
Merlo reported that the LA Galaxy offered Argentine giants River Plate close to $10M for 22-year-old winger Pablo Solari. He has 24 goal contributions in 46 appearances for River across the 22/23 season according to transfermarkt.com.
Just like Talleres, River Plate rejected the initial offer and is reportedly asking for a figure in the range of $15-20M, as shared on CoG’s transfer tracker. Guesman’s sources have confirmed that negotiations for Solari are in full swing.
Starting negotiations with two clubs in the same league for players of a similar profile seems to be a negotiation tactic by Galaxy General Manager Will Kuntz. Kuntz is well aware of the Galaxy’s reputation for overspending and knows that any club he negotiates with will be keen on extracting maximum value from their asset.
In a typical negotiation, selling clubs have the power to set their price as high as they would like. Both Talleres and River Plate have exercised this freedom by setting their price at at least $15M. The selling club counts on the buyer having no option but to pay up.
By publicly going for two extremely similar profiles of players, Kuntz is sending the message to selling clubs that the Galaxy are much more capable of identifying targets than they once were and that they don’t lack options at all. In short, he’s letting Talleres and River Plate know that they are more than happy to walk away from the negotiation if the price isn’t right.
This gives the Galaxy some leverage in negotiating that could be crucial in allowing them to acquire the difference makers they want. Reports from Merlo indicate that River Plate’s Pablo Solari is Kuntz’s number one option.
Negotiations will be hotly contested between the Galaxy and both Argentine clubs, but Kuntz’s expertise has already proven useful. If there’s one word to describe the Galaxy’s transfer activity so far, it would be competent. It wouldn’t be unwise to back Kuntz in coming out on top or on winning another impactful target should he be forced to look elsewhere.
With nine roster spots still open and a few months to go until the start of the season, the LA Galaxy are currently in a liminal state. With so much still unknown about the 2024 squad, some anxiety among supporters isn’t undue. However, these nervous feelings should be quelled by the great promise Kuntz has shown so far.
Head Coach Greg Vanney remains an area of contention, with many feeling that he has already proven himself incompetent. While these claims aren’t totally unjustified, it is important to remember that Vanney still hasn’t had the chance to lead a regular campaign as head coach of the LA Galaxy.
Up until the end of the most recent season, Vanney has been a Swiss army knife for the Galaxy’s front office. Before Will Kuntz took over the general manager responsibilities, Vanney had been tasked with coaching the team AND rebuilding the club’s footballing infrastructure, a difficult task considering the incongruous objectives of ex-president Chris Klein. Despite having no help from his leadership and struggling to find any type of success on the pitch, Vanney did succeed at the latter.
The upcoming 2024 season will finally give Greg Vanney his first chance to simply coach. Better yet, he’ll be in charge of coaching a squad that he either picked directly or was extremely involved in selecting. In short, 2024 will be the time to judge Vanney as harshly as possible.
Kuntz and Vanney are continuing to put all their efforts into improving the LA Galaxy. Although there is still much work to be done, supporters may finally have reasons to be optimistic that their decision-makers will make the right calls.
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PHOTO: fotobaires.com, LA Galaxy