MLS Record $10 Million Transfer Carries Unique Risk for Villarreal

By Ben Berger

Jozy Altidore, one of US Soccer’s most promising young stars, is on the move.  According to multiple sources, the New York Red Bulls forward has been sold to Spanish side Villarreal for a MLS record $10 million transfer.  Despite having multiple remaining years on his MLS contract, the Red Bulls made the decision to sell now, with the MLS summer transfer window looming and the Red Bulls treading water at 3-3-3.  In addition to his outstanding combination of speed, size and finishing ability, Altidore is also known for his Addidas marketing campaign and his weekly blog for the New York Times.  The Spanish Primera should provide a strong challenge for the American teen. 

The workings of a player transfer are unique to soccer.  Altidore will continue playing for New York until the international transfer window opens on July 1 (creating a similar situation to that of David Beckham last year, when he played out the season for Real Madrid despite having signed a new contract for the coming year with the LA Galaxy).  Altidore is also expected to suit up for the US Olympic team in August and for the US Mens National Team in their upcoming Friendly at Giants Stadium against World Number One Argentina. 

Thus, despite the impending transfer to Villarreal, not to mention the team’s $10 million investment, Altidore runs the risk of injury while fulfilling his US and MLS commitments.  Typically, the purchasing team (Villarreal) takes on that risk once a contract is signed.  Of course such a scenario is foreign to other major US sports, in which a player is often held out of team events until a trade is consummated and a physical passed.  Furthermore, it is not uncommon for a player to miss time due to an injury sustained while playing for a prior team.  Case-in-point, David Beckham.  Last year, Beckham missed multiple matches for the Galaxy after suffering an ankle injury while playing for Real Madrid. 

Attorney Ben Berger, an avid fan of soccer and MLS, is an attorney at Updike, Kelly & Spellacy, in Hartford, Connecticut.  Ben can be reached at bberger@uks.com or 860-548-2636.

 

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