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Rumor: Celtic Captain Scott Brown linked to Sporting KC

An early start to the silly season that is the January transfer window in most of the world.

Celtic v Rangers - Scottish Premier League Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

According to the Scottish Sun, Scott Brown, the captain of Celtic on the Scottish Premiership, is being linked to Sporting Kansas City. The 33-year-old midfielder is a former member of the Scottish National Team (55 caps) where he played with Sporting KC member Johnny Russell.

Brown is a veteran of the Scottish Premiership having played his entire career there. He was a member of Hiberian FC’s U17 and U20 clubs before transferring to Celtic in the summer of 2007. He’s been with Celtic ever since. He has 470 appearances with 37 goals across all competitions.

The Scottish Sun reports that he would be a Designated Player in MLS, which makes this move seem extremely unlikely. Transfermarkt currently values him at €4 million ($4.56M) and way back in 2007 when Hiberian sold him to Celtic it was for £4.4 million ($5.67M) which at the time was the highest fee every paid for an intra-league transfer.

While he’s listed as a midfielder, Brown is more of a box-to-box midfielder, much like Roger Espinoza. While watching videos of his play I’m reminded a bit of Espinoza. Then I found this write-up on Wikipedia about his play style (citations left in):

In their 2009 ‘ones to watch’ segment described Brown as being a ‘dynamic box-to-box midfielder’, who is ‘direct, athletic and combative’, they also pointed out that he has a “reckless streak”.[52] When analyzing the 2007 SPFA Team of the Year, BBC Sport described Brown’s ‘skillful, energetic running’ as being integral to Hibs’ ‘fluent’ style of play.[148] Scotland Under-21 coach Rainer Bonhof said in 2007 that Brown was a modern midfield player, but he needed to be calmed to avoid disciplinary problems.[35] Early in his career, Brown admitted that he had to avoid sugary products, such as chocolate or fizzy drinks, because they would make him hyperactive.[149]

Does he Fit at Sporting KC?

His play style would seem to fit quite nicely with Sporting KC. Roger Espinoza is obviously an integral member of the KC team and midfield, but that’s kind of the problem. Espinoza just signed a contract extension through 2020.

Also, I would expect any new signings to skew much younger than 33 (Brown will be 34 in June). If signed, Brown would immediately be the second oldest player on the roster since Brad Evans turns 34 in April (though it’s likely he won’t be around next year).

Also, there is the fact that Brown is currently hurt. He picked up an injury in the match-up between Celtic and Hiberian on October 20th. Apparently it’s a knee injury, something that has been more prevalent in Brown’s career over the last few seasons. He missed two other games earlier this season with a “knock.” He missed three weeks during the 17-18 season with a knee injury as well. The 15-16 season was a little injury plagued as he missed 21 games with a variety of injuries including multiple knee injuries, a hamstring problem and a thigh injury.

So you’re Saying there’s a Chance

There are a few factors that could make this a possibility — however slight it may be. First, Brown will be out of contract next summer. That means he’d be eligible to sign a pre-contract come January. In other words, transfer to SKC for free in the summer when his contract expires.

Another factor is his connection to Johnny Russell. It’s possible he’s talked to Russell or Russell has talked to him and they’ve talked of the wonders of Kansas City. Especially for an aging player. With the opening of Pinnacle, a state of the art facility that is aiding in player recovery among other things, players can extend their careers. 31-year-old Matt Besler recently talked of playing five more years (and he also signed a two-year extension). Graham Zusi (who got a three-year extension) completed one of his most healthy seasons ever playing in every single MLS game for every single minute (one of four MLS players, including Ilie Sanchez, to play every game).

Final Verdict

It’s probably pretty unlikely. It wouldn’t surprise me if Sporting KC got thrown in with a club that might actually have ties to Brown. Minnesota United are also mentioned in the story and they have an open Designated Player spot. Additionally Western Melbourne, a potential expansion team in Australia’s A-League, are reportedly interested.

The only way I could see it happening is on a free transfer or pre-contract agreement and Brown would have to take a reduced wage since SKC currently have a lot of players under contract for 2019 with some sizable salaries.