With speculation arise that former Barcelona man and current Tottenham midfielder, albeit in a lesser capacity than an out-and-out senior squad member, Giovani dos Santos has been one of Sporting KC's transfer targets for two years now. The somewhat startling announcement came on Sporting KC's weekly 30 minute TV segment titled "Off the Pitch" when play-by-play announcer Callum Williams spoke with Vermes in a one on one interview.
It's amusing to watch it and see Cal gently push Vermes into spilling the beans on a specific player name instead of dancing around the question and merely saying "there are certain guys we're after."
(skip to 3:35)
But the question is also raised whether or not Sporting KC would actually have the money to complete such a transfer. After all, Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy has stated he would accept nothing less than $7.2 million for dos Santos. The fee was of course the original amount Tottenham had spent bringing the then teenager from Barcelona to Tottenham.
So when I jokingly tweeted in December of 2011 following the departure of Omar Bravo to Cruz Azul that I was "Hearing from nowhere that Giovani dos Santos is the next Mexican to join Sporting KC", was I being serious? Heck no. Did I know that Vermes and co. were actually looking at the young Mexican? No. But deep down inside me I couldn't help but feel that with Robb Heineman's ambition and Vermes' strive to create a team that could effectively compete in the CONCACAF Champions League there had to have been at least a small, remote chance right?
Yet, people laughed at me. And rightly so, the idea of such a player wanting to join a Midwestern team in such a small market was outrageous. Especially seeing that the last time Sporting KC had bought an international player using transfer money was in 2009 when Zoltan Hercegfalvi joined the club from Budapest Honvéd FC to the tune of $110,844, a fee that is still a club record today.
That measly $110,844 pails in comparison to the $7,200,000 dollars it would take to bring dos Santos in. The difference between Zoltan's fee and Giovani's suspected fee is nearly 65 times greater. Has Sporting Kansas City really grown 65 times what it was in 2009, at least in the money department? We would sure like to think so right?
Heck, Sporting KC will actually be losing at minimum $300,000 more than Giovani's price tag over the next 6 years(that's 2 and a half Zoltan's) as they give $7.5 million(68 Zoltans) to LIVESTRONG, which is a really great initiative from Sporting Club don't get me wrong, but can we as fans really expect Sporting KC, with such expenditures as the $150,000,000 stadium still to pay off, to bring in big name players?
Another thing we must take into consideration is the city in which these former Premier League players, who are used to going out to nightclubs every night and partying with hundreds of people, would be staying in. Kansas City, which ranks in the 30's or 40's in terms of the largest cities in the US, is a quaint town, there are very nice places for these players to stay and to live in which they would still get the close-knit European feel (i.e. The Plaza, Westport), but it would still not be the same in comparison to places like London, New York, Milan, Berlin or Paris. Needless to say, a lot of these high end players would see a move to Kansas City, and more specifically the MLS, as a downgrade in their current life.
But there are positives, for instance, Giovani has struggled to get playing time in England with Tottenham's star-studded squad. But in the states, he could practically join any MLS side and be guaranteed a starting spot given that he is not injured or suspended. Another positive specific to dos Santos' case is the proximity to his motherland of Mexico, in which he is a consistent fixture in the Mexican national team.
Yet another positive for big name players to move to Kansas City would be a decrease in the amount of publicity and notoriety they would receive. While most of the Sporting KC faithful would recognize someone like Giovani just from reading about him and seeing him play on gameday most of the other ordinary citizens in Kansas City would not.
To put it into perspective, when Manchester United, a fabled and world wide recognized name, was in the US for their 2010 tour, Ryan Giggs noted that he and the rest of the squad could simply walk out and about New York City without being stopped by impatient and hungry fans pleading for them to sign Manchester United paraphernalia. Could this be a upside to living in the states that would outweigh the lack of world class football and high end restaurants and stores as seen in most of North Eastern Europe? Possibly.
As Giovani dos Santos enters the last remaining year on his contract with Tottenham football club his price decreases practically with every day until next summer when he becomes a free agent. Whether or not he plans on joining Sporting KC remains to be seen but in all likelihood this would be the perfect time for Sporting KC to strike. IF Sporting KC are to sign these big name players they will have to do it at a time when these players are free agents, mainly because their transfer would cost nothing and it would be easier to negotiate with the player without having to go through the club first.
So for now Sporting KC will in all practicality not be signing the dos Santos' or the Cavani's. The negatives would outweigh the positives for most of the players and until the MLS rises in class, the club receives more money, soccer becomes more popular and/or the city become more attractive, the chances of Sporting KC signing a big name player is slim to none.