Sporting Kansas City Manager Peter Vermes was asked during a press conference Friday about the contract status of a pair of players. Both Gerso Fernandes and Felipe Gutierrez were out of contract after the season. Gerso was out of options after the 2020 season the club declined the option on Gutierrez but initiated negotiations with him.
Gutierrez missed the entire 2020 season and received surgery in June to repair a cartilage defect in his knee. The surgery was successful but successful means they accomplished the procedure without issues. the 30-year-old Chilean midfielder was seen doing rehabilitation work but it is unknown exactly how well he will recover. That uncertainty is what led to Sporting KC declining the option.
When asked about Gutierrez, Vermes responded, “We are in a negotiation with him, we have been since the end of the season and his representatives.”
“It is a little bit of a different one, I won’t go too deep into it but obviously we are dealing with the injury aspect of it. He didn’t play a single minute last year and he had surgery that frankly at the end there is an unknown,” Vermes continued.” He could get back better than he was, the same or maybe not get back at all.”
Gutierrez was making approximately $1.6 million in 2019 and an unknown amount in 2020 since the MLS Players Association did not release salary updates during the pandemic.
“This is more of an understanding that we have to put ourselves in a position to protect ourselves against the fact that he may not play again or to the level that he was. We have to be smart if he was to come back, that we were protected in that vein. I think that he and his representatives understand that, it’s just if we can get to an agreement that everybody feels comfortable with.” Vermes explained.
It makes perfect sense that Sporting KC would not want to continue to pay that high of a salary for a player that may not be able to even play again. Vermes appears to want Gutierrez back but only at a reasonable financial risk.
Gerso’s contract ran out after the 2020 season and the club did not have any more options on the speedy winger. In 2020 Gerso only started 10 games but did add 3 goals and 3 assists. With Khiry Shelton tending to start on the wing when Alan Pulido was at center forward, Gerso became a late game threat off the bench more often.
“With the rules of the CBA we had the ability to provide what is called a bona fide offer. We did that and it wasn’t something he accepted,” Vermes told reporters. “We wanted to bring Gerso back but he didn’t accept that so at this point there is no negotiation because he declined our offer.”
A bona fide offer in MLS can vary with age and years in the league but is typically at least 100% and in some cases 105% of the previous salary. The last known compensation (from the 2019 release) was $550,008 for Gerso.
“We maintain his rights, so I am not sure if he is going overseas or what the plan is there but with the bona fide offer, our intention was to re-sign him,” Vermes continued. “Where that goes from here I can’t answer that. As of right now, he has declined our offer so there is no negotiations at this point.”
Another MLS team could make an offer to Sporting KC for Gerso’s rights, but he could leave to go to a club overseas on a free transfer.
Gerso’s scoring touch and final pass could be hit or miss at times, but his speed and ability to stretch defense would be missed if he does not return.