News came out earlier today that Sporting Kansas City had added 25-year-old midfielder Remi Walter to their increasingly stacked midfield setup. The team technically hasn’t re-signed Roger Espinoza yet but they are trying to work that out and to bring back Felipe Gutierrez (who they “drafted” again Tuesday).
Even without those additions, Sporting KC return 18-year-old Gianluca Busio, Ilie Sanchez, Gadi Kinda, Felipe Hernandez and Cameron Duke. If Espinoza and Gutierrez are there too, there is plenty of talent and space to sell Busio to the highest bidder.
Enough of the midfield situation, let’s get to the new information.
Walter Salary Rumors
French newspaper LEquipe is reporting that Remi Walter will make “around $800,000 per season until 2024.” As stated previously, the contract is guaranteed through 2023 with a team held option for 2024.
For some context*, that was right around Roger Espinoza’s 2019 salary. Felipe Gutierrez made about $1.65 million, but he’s being asked to take a pay cut if he wants to return. It’s not known what Gadi Kinda is making, but at $800,000 that would likely be starter money for Walter. And if not starting, competing for minutes on a consistent basis. I would suspect if Roger returns, it’ll be at a lower number to compensate for his likely smaller number of minutes he’ll be asked to put in.
So that’s Walter at $800,000, Espinoza previously at $800,000, Gutierrez previously at $1.65m, Kinda rumored at $600,000 and Ilie at $900,000. Not to mention budget friendly deals for Busio ($92,500), Hernandez ($56,250) and Duke ($69,250). If Espinoza and Gutierrez return, even at reduced numbers, that’s a huge chunk of change tied up in the midfield in a somewhat limited MLS salary budget.
*All numbers are from 2019 as 2020 salary data was never released.
Why Was Walter Even Available?
All appearances are that Walter is joining Sporting KC on a free transfer. He had been with Ligue 1 team OGC Nice (France) up until the beginning of 2020 when he left to join Yeni Malatyaspor (Turkey). However, he left there after the summer. According to LEquipe he was able to break his contract because the club simply stopped paying him. Possibly this is related to ongoing financial issues for many of the world’s football clubs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Transfermarkt says he’s currently valued at $1.65 million but he was worth $3.3 million before being left without a team. For context, even at the lower value, that would make him tied for the fifth largest value according to TM’s index of all SKC players.
They put it in this order: Pulido ($9.9m), Kinda ($4.4m), Busio ($4.4m), Johnny Russell ($1.87m), Winston Reid ($1.65m), Gutierrez ($1.32m) and a three-way tie with Daniel Salloi, Ilie and Jaylin Lindsey ($1.1m). Everyone else is worth less than a million, though someone like Salloi surely took a hit after his last couple years. It’s unscientific, but it is something to compare against.
That would mean Sporting are potentially getting a “starter” for free (minus the millions he’ll make over the next few years in salary).
How are Walter’s “Stats?”
We’ve already covered his games played, goals, assists and the like, but what about his incredibly unscientific video game stats? Obviously Football Manager and FIFA aren’t the most reliable sources of information, but it, again, just provides further context.
Walter is a 71 in FIFA 21. They list him as a CM (think #8) and CDM (#6). Since the team lists him as a #8, it’s not hard to see them thinking he could be an Espinoza replacement. He does rate as much faster than Espinoza and Ilie, though nowhere near the speed of Kinda. All sources show his stamina lower than his counterparts, but PV can get him Sporting Fit I’m sure. Here are the full FIFA 21 SKC ratings to compare against.
As for Football Manager, the ratings are much more complex. He still rates out in the same basic spot, behind Kinda even with Ilie (Walter’s numbers dropped between FM20 and FM21 possibly for being out of contract) and ahead of Espinoza. Of note is they rate him higher in stamina, as having a strong first touch and having a good work rate. All things that make sense for a Peter Vermes midfielder.
As for another real stat instead of a game, he’s just 5’8” tall. Sporting have lots of small midfielders and forwards so this fits in, even if some size would be welcome. That’s the same height as Kinda, but shorter than Espinoza (5’10”) and Ilie (5’11”).
Trying to find highlights for a hardworking midfielder can be tough. They don’t score much and the work they do can go unnoticed when things are going well.
I find the highlights the team put out somewhat humorous. They repeatedly show a goal where the goalkeeper just make a mistake (though the shot was a rocket). Then he scores three penalty kicks and gets a goal on a messy play in the box. I want highlights of that vicious work rate and some pretty passes.
He's represented the French National Team at U-17 & U-21 levels. He's featured in @EuropaLeague and @ChampionsLeague qualifying. He brings 74 appearances from the French Ligue 1.— Sporting KC (@SportingKC) December 22, 2020
He's Remi Walter. He's 25. And he's Sporting Blue. pic.twitter.com/G5APVUinHN
All the other “highlights” we could locate to this point were simply highlights of games he played in where he might not even show up much. If you found something better, let us know in the comments below.
Update 12/23/20: The KC Star got a couple quotes from Vermes and they wrote, “although he was brought in to primarily play as a defensive midfielder, Vermes said that he will appear in both of the central midfielder roles, too.” Sounds like they want him as a #6 though he can play the #8.
Peter Vermes today on new #SportingKC signing Remi Walter. Looks like he’s going to provide competition to Ilie at the 6 but provide cover at the 8, too. Box-to-box midfielder. pic.twitter.com/8UZRuaO1ob— Shaun Goodwin (@ShaunGoodwinKC) December 23, 2020