Kai Wagner is an integral part of why the Philadelphia Union are among the elite teams in MLS and one of the top favorites to make it to the MLS Cup 2022. He has maintained that level of excellence for a few years…he also maintained his desire to return to Europe at some point sooner rather than later. These performances arouse the interest of foreigners.
It’s a bit of a dilemma for Union, who want to keep their core for a Cup run. MLS’s secondary transfer window is closed (effective Aug. 4), so the union can only sign free agents (via the Sept. 2 roster freeze) if they were to replace Wagner. Extremely more likely, any replacement would come internally if Wagner were to leave. Substituting a Best XI caliber player on the fly is very, very difficult.
With a week left in the transfer window, with what we know at the moment, I have moved on to not expecting Wagner to be moved. Things can always change – please note before you screenshot to laugh at me if things change – but at this point it seems much more likely than, say, a few months ago, that Wagner remains a Union player throughout the season.
What do we know right now? Well, there are still a bunch of interested teams but, according to the sources, Union still haven’t received a concrete offer for Wagner from Leeds United or anyone else. Interest does not always turn to offers.
In a perfect world? Perhaps Union could strike a deal in which a transfer of Wagner to Europe is agreed for the winter, preserving the current squad at full strength for the Audi MLS Cup qualifiers while securing the bag for his transfer + Wagner having his own secure future. But who knows what will happen, if anything. Maybe the club and the player will come back to it this winter. Playing every minute for one of the best teams in MLS isn’t exactly a bad alternative.
Wagner is the biggest name to potentially transfer in terms of impact on the MLS Cup/playoff run, but he’s not the only one with overseas suitors.
The transfer of Djordje Mihailovic to AZ Alkmaar (for 2023) was formalized on Wednesday. Brian Rodriguez at Club America is a strong possibility. Mamadou Fall’s loan move to Villarreal has yet to be announced. Young players in this league are on the radar of clubs in Europe, so maybe we could see a ‘transfer deal’ for the winter, like Gaga Slonina’s Chelsea deal, for another player or two. .
Watch this space during the final week of the Euro/Mexican transfer windows.