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Grant Wahl: Sporting KC Turned Down $500K for Benny Feilhaber

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Per a BBC reporter, SKC declined a $500,000 transfer offer from Israeli champions Hapoel Be'er Sheva for the services of midfield linchpin Benny Feilhaber.

Benny Feilhaber--not much longer for wearing the Sporting argyle?
Benny Feilhaber--not much longer for wearing the Sporting argyle?
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

In Sports Illustrated's Grant Wahl's soccer stories roundup for today, a very interesting piece of news for Sporting Kansas City fans was included at the very end: according to the BBC's Raphael Gellar, SKC turned down a bid of $500,000 from Israeli champions Hapoel Be'er Sheva for central midfielder Benny Feilhaber.

This would not be out of character for Sporting--while the club is often keen to cash in on players wanting to move abroad (Kei Kamara, Uri Rosell, and so on), they have also in the past allowed a key player's contract to run out and risk losing them on a free transfer--Roger Espinoza's move to Wigan in England, if you remember, was one such free transfer. Clearly, Peter Vermes and co. have decided that having Benny for another season's home stretch and potential playoff run is more valuable to them than the $333,333 (after MLS takes its cut) in general allocation money that they would take in from that particular transfer.

It's easy to see Sporting's reasoning: especially after the big transfer of Krisztian Nemeth to al-Gharafa this past offseason, and the subsequent flops of Brad Davis and especially Justin Mapp* in Nemeth's place, selling Benny may well have looked like the equivalent of the club brass waving the white flag on another mediocre season that saw Sporting put up an embarrassing showing thus far in the CONCACAF Champions League and will almost certainly end without any silverware despite a US Open Cup title and a thrilling playoff exit last year.

*Although Mapp was only signed to a one-year deal, so it's hard to criticize SKC too much for taking a flier on him--and it's hard for me in particular to criticize it, since I advocated for SKC signing Mapp to begin with. Still, considering his known talent, it's impossible to see his signing as anything other than a disappointment now.

The opposite argument to make here is that Feilhaber will be 32 by the time preseason for the 2017 campaign begins, and he is only going to decline from here. Considering that he is in a contract year and could actually have been signed on a free transfer for the winter transfer window(players can sign "pre-contracts" with a new club when they are in the last six months of their current contracts, and those pre-contracts do not involve a transfer fee), Sporting are risking foregoing a few hundred thousand dollars in allocation funds that could greatly assist them in areas of need across the pitch this offseason as the veteran core of the side gets another year older and quality replacements from either the draft or the academy continue to be few and far between.

Finally, there is the matter of the little tidbit in the report that Feilhaber was interested in making the deal. It *is* uncharacteristic of Sporting to stand in the way of a player wanting to ply their trade abroad (again, see also: Kamara, Rosell, et al), and if ever a player had earned the right to tell their club, "I want to go, please don't stand in the way," Benny has surely earned that right with an MVP-caliber season bracketed by above average campaigns. At the very least, this could signal that either way, Benny is on his way out of Kansas City after four years, and all of the sudden, it would make the trialing of Juventus's Fausto Rossi make much more sense as potential candidate to be Benny's immediate replacement going into 2017.