Earlier in the week we told you of a rumored signing for 28-year-old Italian center back Federico Barba. He’s linked to five teams as of right now, so it’s probably unlikely to happen, but the rumor of a move to MLS does come from a more reliable source. So whether he ends up playing for Sporting Kansas City or the Vancouver Whitecaps, it’s not out of the question he ends up in Major League Soccer.
Details from the Prior Story
- Under Contract through June 2023
- Rumored transfer fee of €800,000 (~$816,000 USD)
- Other interested clubs: Vancouver (MLS), U.C. Sampdoria (Serie A), Pisa (Serie B) and Cagliari (Serie B)
- His Instagram account
He’s bounced around Europe quite a bit over his career. He came up in the AS Roma academy but was loaned and transferred around to numerous teams. He spent time with Grosseto (Serie C), Empoli (Serie A), Stuttgart (Bundesliga — where Erik Thommy just come in from), Sporting Gijon (La Liga 2), Chievo Verona (Serie D), and Real Valladolid (La Liga)*.
*These are their current leagues, but this was over many years so teams move up and down.
Despite all the moving around, Barba has played the most games in the top flight of Italy, with 101 games. He has another 77 in Serie B, and 38 in La Liga 2. Overall, he has 281 appearances, 11 goals, four assists and 22,785 minutes across all competitions.
Highlights of defenders are always interesting. There are quite a few good, long passes. He also ventures forward a lot for a CB, though it’s possible he’s not at CB in all those clips. Looking at some of the highlights, it almost appears he is in a three back setup.
Other things that stood out are he’s definitely quite a bit quicker than Fontas, more athletic in general and he also seems to be pretty good with his feet overall. I caught some ball watching in there too, which I suppose everyone is guilty of from time to time. Another thing that stood out more positively is his team often was keeping a shutout in the games the highlights came from, so that’s something.
Oh, and that backheel goal he scored for Stuttgart... magnificent.
La Liga may have blocked in the embedded video below, so you can check that link here.
Fit with Sporting KC
As a left-footed CB, if this deal were to go through I think we can all safely assume it would be the end of Andreu Fontas’ time with KC. He’s out of contract after this season anyways and it’s likely Barba would be available for a lower wage than Fontas who had Champions League experience versus Barba who has never played for a club as big as Barcelona.
Transfermarkt lists Barba as primarily a CB but has the ability to play LB too, so that could provide additional depth and flexibility. You’d guess he would be a veteran presence in case Robert Voloder isn’t ready to take over as a starter.
In addition to Fontas, Nicolas Isimat-Mirin has only an option year after this season, so it could give the team flexibility to ride with Barba, Voloder and Kortne Ford as their top three center backs (plus whatever other signings they make) versus paying two aging center backs over $1 million per season.
However, with so many clubs linked to Barba, I wouldn’t put too much weight on it. As a signing right now, it would seem to be too costly for SKC’s budget, unless it was a 6-month loan with a promise to buy him after the season when flexibility will open up since Peter Vermes said the team didn’t have much cap flexibility left.
After a rough 2022, a roster overhaul is coming. There are plenty of players who will be out of contract or can have options declined to setup a decent amount of change in 2023, just not at the very top of the roster. A move like this makes more sense in the offseason.
Update 7/28/22: It looks like, as we speculated, Barba wants to stay in Italy.