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Sporting KC Should have Kept Palmer-Brown over Besler

Not that this was an option, but lets look at what appears to be a missed opportunity.

MLS: Philadelphia Union at Sporting KC Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The news came out earlier that Erik Palmer-Brown will be heading to Manchester City of the Premier League on a free transfer after the 2017 season. Lots of Sporting Kansas City fans find themselves pretty disappointed that the best player to ever develop out of their academy (to date) will be leaving the team with no compensation coming back to KC.

There were talks years ago of Juventus buying the youngster and just last year of FC Porto exercising their option to buy EPB after his loan to the Portuguese first division side. But now, because he has less than six months left on his contract, he has the ability to sign a pre-contract offer and he has done just that.

The Kansas City Star is reporting the deal is for 4.5 years. So when he joins Man City during the middle of this season (for them) he’ll play all the way through the middle of 2022.

For Palmer-Brown is likely came down to two things, money and the chance to play in Europe again. The amount of money in the deal likely won’t be known for a while but it’s extremely unlikely that he actually plays for Man City, but instead will go out on loan over and over like most young players in the EPL do.

That brings me to my thesis. Sporting KC kept the wrong center back. I chose to say they kept Besler over him, when in reality both Matt Besler and Ike Opara have contracts that expire after the 2018 season. The reason I picked Besler is because of the size of his salary and this specific quote from head coach Peter Vermes.

“We believed we made him a very good offer in MLS.”

Exactly what that offer is, no one has said. It’s possible we will never know. We will eventually find out what Manchester City was willing to pay for him. The question is will that be more than Besler makes ($758,250 in 2017 — Opara makes $150,000)? I seriously doubt that.

Now let’s backup a bit. Palmer-Brown is not better than Besler today. It’s possible that he will never be better, but his ceiling is so much higher. It’s likely he’ll go on to be quite good.

Now there is question if any MLS center back should be paid as much as Besler. The league tends to give the big contracts to attacking players. There are only a few other designated players that even play defense -- and I’ll leave Zusi out since when he signed he was not a defender.

That’s the list. Dielna just signed, so we don’t know what he makes. So if you count Zusi, Sporting KC have 50 percent of the defensive DPs. Maurice Edu sometimes plays defense but he’s hurt so much and he’s listed as a midfielder, I left him out.

Here is the difference. EPB is 20-years-old. Besler is 30-years-old. It’s not like Besler doesn’t have a good chunk of good years left, but it’s nowhere near how many EPB could have provided.

If Sporting KC would have offered EPB “Besler money,” you’d have to think he’d be more inclined to stay. It might not be smart to pay that much for another CB, but if he anchors the back line for another decade it would be a lot easier to stomach for fans.

Obviously if they are paying EPB that much, they probably can’t pay Besler like that too. Not just that, but simply paying Palmer-Brown probably isn’t enough. He wants to play. If Besler and Opara are playing at the level they currently are, there is no reason to sit them. So one of them has to go. And because of the money, it’s Besler.

Now Opara will be due a big raise at the end of 2018 (or earlier). Maybe Sporting thought about all this and just knew they couldn’t tie that much money up in CBs. If that’s the case, they’ll have a problem next year anyways.

All of this is for not of course because EPB is leaving. The only positive is that at least SKC retain his MLS rights. If he gets tired of riding the bench in England or going out on loan after loan, there will always be a place for him in Kansas City.