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Diving Deep on Sporting KC Rumored Target Sonny Kittel

Is the attacking midfielder a good fit for Sporting Kansas City?

Hamburger SV - Jahn Regensburg Photo by Axel Heimken/picture alliance via Getty Images

Yesterday, Bild reported a rumor that Sporting Kansas City, along with D.C. United and Real Salt Lake, were tied to Hamburger SV attacking midfielder Sonny Kittel. Now, let’s take a deeper look at how he’d fit with the team, his injury history, his highlights and if it’s likely to happen.

Sporting KC Fit?

Kittel is a 29-year-old attacking midfielder that is also capable of playing as a winger. While winger is mostly settled for 2022, Daniel Salloi is out of contract and can agree to a pre-contract in the coming weeks to leave after the season. Attacking midfielder is completely empty with Gadi Kinda missing the whole year.

The team has one open international roster slot (for placing Kinda on the SEI list) but can clear more with a transfer or release of a player.

As for how he’ll fit on the field, Kittel looks like someone who can provide a spark. In 33 appearances this season, he has nine goals and 16 assists.

However, the Sporting Director at Hamburger, Jonas Boldt, has some words of caution about Kittel.

“He has to know for himself: Do I accept that? Is it enough for me to score twice in some games and maybe not focus as much in other games when I have less support from the team?” said Boldt. “A player like that is measured by facts, by goals. Because he can too. He delivers his quota every year. You have to know when, how and why.”

A lack of focus and not being tuned into the game wouldn’t sit well with Sporting Kansas City manager Peter Vermes. But those goals and creativity sure would.

As for salary fit, it’s very unclear. He’s valued at $2.64 million per Transfermarkt but if he came without a fee, he can be paid up to $1.6125 million and still fit in as a Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) signing. There isn’t any room to bring in any more Designated Players and any transfer fee would need to be pro-rated over the life of the contract. The deal is reported at two and a half years.

Injury History

Earlier in his career, he missed fairly significant chunks of time with multiple serious injuries. However, since the 2017-18 season, he’s only missed three games. And during that time he’s played well over 2,000 minutes per season in league play alone. That’s much more promising than the rumored Erik Thommy signing on a health front.

Highlights

His numerous highlight packages show a mix of him playing out on the left and coming through the middle. Also, he’s shown taking a fair amount of set pieces, penalty kicks, cleaning up some scraps left laying in the box and just generally sending delightful balls to his teammates.

It’s good finishing from his teammates though, in many instances, which seems like something much more aligned with setting up someone like Alan Pulido than Khiry Shelton. Also, he’s listed as not having a dominant foot, but it seems he’s using his right a lot more than his left.

Chances of Happening

This may be the most interesting of the three rumors that have come out this week but it feels like the least likely to happen. Because of arcane MLS rules around Discovery lists, either RSL or DCU could have claim on Kittel, even if he is well suited for Kansas City. Because of that, and because of the increased reporting around D.C. United being the spot, I’m leaning towards this not happening.

Update: Steven Goff of the Washington Post reports that DCU and Kittel are in “advanced talks.”