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Rumor: Sporting KC Make Offer for 27-Year-Old Swiss Center Back

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Two CB rumors in one day?!?!

Hamburger SV v SSV Jahn Regensburg - Second Bundesliga
Léo Lacroix with Hamburger SV in 2018.
Photo by Martin Rose/Bongarts/Getty Images

I guess it’s a double rumor Sunday. First the Winston Reid to Sporting KC rumor and now this. Goal.com is reporting that 27-year-old Léo Lacroix is “the subject of a [Sporting Kansas City] proposal.” That’s certainly more appealing than a 31-year-old center back coming off an injury.

Lacroix will be out of contract in the summer so that would make him eligible to sign a pre-contract with Sporting KC. He hasn’t made an appearance in the 2019-20 season and appears to have just returned from a loan to Hamburger SV in 2. Bundesliga (German second division). Lacroix is currently the property of Saint Etienne in Ligue 1 (France).

According to Goal, “Kansas City has just made an offer to hire the services of the former Hamburg player.” Since he’s almost out of contract and they could sign him for free with an arrival in the summer, if it’s to be believe they made an offer, one would assume it would be nominal.

Goal also states that according to someone close to the player the proposal is “interesting.” SKC aren’t the only club interested in the 27-year-old Swiss International. There are also reports of interest out of Russia, China and Turkey.

Back in December, Lacroix said, “Yes, a departure is possible if I do not find the competition by the transfer window.” The transfer window closes on January 31st in France. That said, teams can still sell after the window closes, they just can’t add players back to the league. Major League Soccer’s Transfer Window doesn’t even officially open until February 12, 2020.

More About Lacroix

Leo Lacroix is a international for his native Switzerland, though he just has one cap back in 2018. He featured more significantly for his youth national team for the U-18s, U-19s, U-20s and U-21s. The 27-year-old CB turns 28 on February 27th. Lacroix is actual a dual citizen as he’s also got a Brazilian parent. He is right-footed and his current transfer value on Transfermarkt is $1.14 million.

Over the last few seasons he has appeared 31 times for Saint-Etienne but he’s also spent time out on loan with FC Basel (Swiss first division) and Hamburger SV (German second divison). Before joining Saint-Etienne on a $3.42 million transfer fee he was a member of FC Sion, also a member of the Swiss Super League like Basel. He appears to have come up through FC Sion’s youth system as he played for their U-18 and U-21 teams.

Over his professional career he has 209 appearances, five goals, three assists and 16,981 minutes played. He doesn’t have a significant injury history, though he did miss time early in his career with some larger injuries. During the 2017-18 season he did have an unknown injury for 6 weeks but it was over the summer so he didn’t miss any action.

Fit with Sporting KC?

This one is tough. Let’s start with the unreliable but probably not far off FIFA 20 card. His pace is a 34 (34 sprint speed and 33 acceleration). That is only slightly better than Andreu Fontas’ card which shows 31 pace (31 sprint speed, 30 acceleration). If there is any value in those numbers, I’d pass. SKC aren’t in need of another slow CB.

Speaking of Fontas, he’d almost assuredly need to be bought out for this deal to happen. The team has until February 28th to pay off his contract to move on from him. Currently he’s signed for three more years guaranteed with a salary each year north of $1 million. Even though Lacroix is younger, speed was severely lacking in the defense in 2019 and I’m not sure this move makes sense from that perspective.

It also doesn’t appear to make sense to have six center backs, so it’s hard to see this deal going through without a buyout or transfer. It’s definitely more appealing than Winston Reid with his injury history and likely larger transfer fee, but it’s still not great.

For comparison, Reid is a burner compared to these guys with 52 pace (50 acceleration, 54 sprint speed). The gold standard for CB speed is always going to be Ike Opara though with 84 pace (79 acceleration, 88 sprint speed). For comparison, Roberto Puncec’s FIFA rating is a 77 in both speed and acceleration (not bad!) and Botond Barath has a 67 pace, 61 acceleration, 72 sprint speed (Originally this story said Puncec wasn’t in FIFA but it was pointed out on Facebook that he has been added since coming to SKC).

Speed isn’t everything, but it sure seemed to be an issue in 2019. Then again, getting a player for free (or nearly free) with lots of experience in Europe probably isn’t the worst move.

What do you think? Am I over-valuing speed? Does Lacroix intrigue you? Join the discussion in the comments.