For much of the 2020-2021 offseason, Sporting Kansas City fans have been holding out hope that many of their favorite players would return for 2021. It appears, another name is choosing to go elsewhere. Chilean outfit El Murcurio is reporting (behind paywall) that Felipe Gutierrez is set to return to his former club, Club Deportivo Universidad Católica.
Gutierrez spent much of his time in the Universidad Católica youth system before moving up to the first team in 2009. He was with the club from 2009 to 2012 before heading overseas and playing for FC Twente (Netherlands) and Real Betis (Spain). He joined Sporting KC ahead of the 2018 season.
Nothing is official at this point, but it would align with earlier rumors that he was open to returning to the club of his youth.
Earlier in the offseason, Sporting KC chose to decline Guti’s 2021 contract option in hopes of renegotiating his contract and bringing him back at a reduced rate since he missed all of the 2020 season and portions of the two prior season.
Felipe gave an interview that he still planned to play for Kansas City, but he thought he may need to prove to them he was healthy enough to earn a salary he deemed suitable. He confirmed that SKC’s current offer was “far below” his prior deal (which last reporting shows near $1.7 million per season). Maybe the potential move to Chile is a short-term one to show he is fit and earn a contract to play out his career in KC. He said ahead of the 2020 season that he wanted to stay for four or five more years.
When reporters were last able to speak with SKC Coach and Sporting Director Peter Vermes, he gave the following update:
“We are in a negotiation with [Gutierrez], we have been since the end of the season and his representatives,” said Vermes. “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.”
If the rumors of Gutierrez’s departure are true, he’ll join a growing list from the 2020 season (and prior) who won’t return in 2021. The list is headlined by future Sporting Legend, Matt Besler (signed with Austin FC) but also includes Gerso Fernandes (rumored just today to have signed in South Korea by a relatively unknown source) and Erik Hurtado (still unsigned). Others have left, but none who contributed as much as these three.
With last week’s signing of French center back Nicolas Isimat-Mirin, Sporting KC’s roster currently stands at 27 players with room to add one more international player as well as a couple other signings. SKC will have the ability to free up more space by loaning a player to SKC II for the year or of course by trading or releasing players. The Blue Testament will continue to update you throughout the offseason of any potential player movement.