It’s weirdly satisfying for the league that we’re now getting some real, honest-to-goodness transfer rumors flowing through MLS beyond the thoroughly-discredited “MLS Transfers” account. I figured I’d run through some of the biggest ones, including some I personally have reported, for their likelihood and their fit:
Emmanuel Izaguirre - LB (Celtic)
Source: Daily Mail (via BBC) , Celtic Supporter Social Media
While Shaun Francis was mostly serviceable last year, I’d be the first to argue that better play from that position would significantly help the team on both ends of the pitch. Kinnear’s offense stagnates without fullbacks with the pace to bomb forward and technique to work balls into the box from wide areas, and “Izzy” would instantly improve the service.
The Honduran has fallen down the pecking order with the Bhoys due to the emergence of young homegrown star Kieran Tierney, but has been a starter for years and continues to play a part for Celtic, which is a much bigger club than any in MLS. The FootballManager database has him on $1.4M/yr, which is far beyond what the Quakes should ever be spending on a left-back, but his contract is up in 6 months, and it’s possible they’ll get him on a steep discount from that. I’d think he would be an excellent signing at a TAM-level salary.
One thing I like to do when diagnosing a rumor is figuring out how “convenient” the link is: is it something that a reporter could have put together without having any inside information at all, or is it something that seems to be coming from somewhere inside? If it’s too “convenient,” I actually find the report less credible, because just about anyone could make the link.
Kinnear, born in Glasgow and a well-known Celtic fan, caught a match in Scotland recently. Izaguirre is almost out of contract and certainly out of favor. The Quakes need a better left back than the one they have. He’s also played with the Honduras National Team with Victor Bernardez. It doesn’t take a genius to make that link without any further information. However, it’s being reported enough in foreign publications and in the Celtic rumor-world that I think it has some legs.
Overall, I’d call this rumor “somewhat unlikely, but credible.”
Alberto Quintero - RW (Lobos de BUAP)
Source: Panamanian TV
Quakes fans are already familiar with Quintero, who spent last season on loan in San Jose, and has repeatedly expressed his desire to stay there with Panamanian teammate Aníbal Godoy. He was a no-brainer selection for last year’s starting XI and brought pace, energy, and technical ability to a side that badly needed it. He also seemed to be a good fit for Kinnear, although he never looked particularly dominant; he was much more of a complementary piece.
The sticking point here is mostly financial. First is wages: I have reason to believe that he’s on something closer to $330k/yr than the $190k/yr that he was paid in 2016, which may be a bit too much in and of itself for a good but not spectacular winger. The other trouble is a transfer fee: apparently the asking price is $700k, and Quintero will be 30 by next offseason. The question is whether the Quakes can get a better deal, and I’d rate that possibility as under 50% but not off the table entirely. Otherwise, I believe the Front Office thinks they can do better for that price point, which brings me to...
Alberth Elis - LW (CF Monterrey)
Source: This tweet, plus numerous articles in Honduran media
A 20-year-old Central American winger with explosive pace? Yes, please. He’d be an upgrade on Quintero in pace, goalscoring, size, and youth (which brings with it the possibility of future improvement). He even won the award for best young player in the CONCACAF Champions League in 2015/2016.
The trick here is whether or not San Jose can win the war for his services without breaking the bank to do so. Not only will they have to pay him a fairly significant wage (although not necessarily DP-level), the major cost will be the transfer fee steep enough to get a major Liga MX club to part with a talented young player whom they have under contract for many years to come. They also just signed him last summer, so it’s unclear to me why they would want to sell so quickly, but Elis himself posted a goodbye message on his Instagram account.
And it’s not simply a matter of ownership being willing to write the checks: if they get out over their tips on this deal, it limits other moves the club could make due to the salary cap and Designated Player rules. For me, if they can finagle a deal that sits in the low TAM range ($500k-$600k cap hit per season), it’s a no-brainer. I just have my doubts that it can be done, and I’m not sure how I’d feel about committing a full DP slot to a young guy who is neither the creator nor the striker that this team most badly needs. I could be talked into it, however.
Of course, that’s all assuming that the Quakes can beat all others to his signature, which to me doesn’t seem likely. Various Spanish-language outlets (which I’ve hacked through with my poor command of the language) have reported on possible destinations including other Liga MX clubs and MLS sides that already have Hondurans on roster: SKC, San Jose, and Houston. The Dynamo currently have the strongest reports backing their bid. Right now, this rumor is a long shot.
Nick Lima - LB (Homegrown, via Cal)
Josh Morton - CB (Homegrown, via Cal)
Source: QuakesForever, Me, Others
For me, Lima is almost a foregone conclusion, with strong rumors emanating from insiders that MLS has approved his Homegrown status, which was under question since he was a part of the academy in its earliest years and did not meet the traditional requirements. I think it’s a matter of “when,” not “if” for Quakes fans.
Lima is a right-footed, attacking full back, lining up primarily on the left side. In fact, he’s a converted former forward, and his attacking skill set reflects it. In many ways, then, he’ll remind Quakes fans of Kip Colvey. One asset he appears to have on Colvey, however, is a bit of a thicker build that suggests an easier conversion to the physicality of the next level. As for his current level, I think he’s best served by spending a year or two in USL. As for his future potential, I think the most likely outcome is MLS rotation player, with a shot at being an MLS starter.
Morton is a different proposition. First off, his eligibility is beyond question, having spent years in the system. I’ve heard some strong indications that they’re planning on signing him homegrown, but I have doubts that it’ll occur this winter specifically. Essentially, while he’s a nice prospect, he has another year of NCAA eligibility left and he isn’t ready to improve the Quakes first team on Day One. As such, I can imagine the Front Office electing to allow him to develop for another year for free before they start paying him.
He’s a center-back, and the Quakes know him about as well as any of their youngsters given his time with the academy, occasional training with the first team, and playing both his college and U-23 ball in the Bay Area. He’s excellent on the ball for his position, which is an asset in the modern game. He has decent height (my guess is 6’1”), but is a bit lean for MLS defenders, although that’s improved over recent years. He can definitely read the game at his level, but projecting that to the professional game is always a bit of guesswork. The one concern I’m sure the Front Office has is that while he’s turned in three consecutive solid campaigns as a locked-in starter for Cal, he’s yet to turn in a truly dominant season that erases all doubts. He has the skillset to be a pro, but he’ll need the seasoning even more than Lima will. I’d rate him in a similar vein as Lima as a prospect, but perhaps with a tiny bit more upside, and a tiny bit more uncertainty.
Other: Guardado, Vela, Ibra, etc
Source: Desperate #Quakes74 fans on Twitter
Not going to happen. Stop it.