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Rumor: Sporting KC Tied to 21-Year-Old Belgian Left Back Logan Ndenbe

He may be a good candidate for a U-22 Initiative roster spot, potentially the first one Sporting have ever used.

KV Mechelen v KV Oostende : Jupiler Pro League
 Logan Ndenbe defender of KV Oostende throws in the ball during the Jupiler Pro League match between KV Mechelen and KV Oostende at the AFAS stadium on December 20, 2019 in Mechelen, Belgium, 20/12/2019
Photo by Nico Vereecken / Photonews via Getty Images

Ah, silly season. The most wonderful time of the year. With the preseason just a few weeks away, there have been a surprised lack of rumors for Sporting Kansas City signings up to this point. So far, Sporting KC have been linked to 20-year-old center back Robert Voloder and 25-year-old Venezuelan winger Richard Figueroa.

Now there is a third international signing rumor to add to that list. 21-year-old (22 next month) Logan Ndenbe “gets closer” to Sporting KC per Santi Aouna, a member of the French media.

Several other websites mention Sporting KC, or less specifically, MLS being linked to Ndenbe. Reports are he didn’t take part in training with EA Guingamp on Friday and will miss this weekends game to finalize the transfer. So whether he’s coming to KC or another MLS team, it definitely seems like he’s moving as they are bringing in a replacement.

“There are calls to the right and to the left, there are for Ndenbe as for other players,” confirmed Guingamp president Le Grand on Wednesday to Ouest France.

Ndenbe is a left-footed, left back who has been a member of Belgium’s youth national team from the U-17s up through the U-21s. Transfermarkt has him listed as being under contract until the summer of 2023, which is confirmed in another of the above stories. He currently plays for EA Guingamp, who are in the French second division (Ligue 2). Prior to that he was with two Belgian setups, the Royal Excel Mouscron academy and KV Oostende in the Belgian top flight (Jupiler Pro League).

He’s played in 12 games this season and 45 games in his pro career. He has two assists and no goals.

Doing the regular video game scouting shows him as a 65 in FIFA (Busio is stunningly just a 67). Football Manager rates him poorly, but gives him relatively high marks in pace and acceleration, as well as decent marks in fitness, stamina, passing, tackling, first touch and dribbling. All needed traits along the left side of the defense. Let’s not put too much stock in that.

An attempt to find some highlights on Ndenbe was unsuccessful.

How Does He Fit with Sporting KC?

First, he’s a left back. The team needs more of those. Only Ben Sweat is currently under contract. If this rumor has any truth to it (and all the sources could just be spiraling off of one original source, so who knows), then Sweat would appear to have a leg up to be the starter while Ndenbe can come in and impress and try to steal minutes. Then again, both players are new, so Sweat really just has an advantage in knowing MLS and the physicality and travel of the league. Sweat is also coming off a torn ACL, so it’s not even certain he’s ready.

If Ndenbe were to sign, it’s possible he would sign under the U-22 initiative. He turns 22 next month but as long as a player doesn’t turn 23 this year they can keep this roster designation through the year they turn 25. If he signed beyond a four year deal, that’d be pretty surprising.

What all this U-22 Initiative stuff means is that SKC can pay him up to $612,500 but it would only count $200,000 against the salary budget (it’d be just $150,000 if he was 20 or younger). Additionally, the team can pay a transfer fee that can be unlimited and doesn’t force a player to become a DP like it potentially could have before (or at least a Targeted Allocation Money player). This is important b/c Ndenbe is under contract for 18 more months and a fee would be necessary. For a deeper dive of the U-22 initiative, check out last years MLS roster rules (2022’s aren’t out yet).

Another thing to keep in mind is that this move would require an international roster spot. Sporting KC just have two available as of now, barring someone picking up a green card before the season starts. If the Voloder transfer were also true, there would be no more spots unless SKC trade for one.

Not knowing anything else about this player, I’m definitely for SKC starting to take advantage of the U-22 Initiative and getting younger in general. If he were to pan out and Kayden Pierre were to emerge at right back, there would suddenly be an injection of youth in the defense, something that’s long been missing.