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Rumor: German Fullback Linked to Sporting KC Move

Another left back? Let’s try and make sense of this.

Media Day Hamburger SV 2022-2023 on September 14, 2022 Photo by Michael Schwartz/picture alliance via Getty Images

With preseason underway and the January transfer window open around the world, the rumor mill is at full tilt. Today brings us a rumor from German outlet Bild stating that Hamburger SV left back Tim Leibold is being tied to Sporting Kansas City.

The report from Kai-Uwe Hesse and Babak Milan is behind the paywall, but there are several Tweets and multiple stories pulling out the details, including one from Transfermarkt’s Manuel Veth, who is usually reliable. He is the only way to say it’s Sporting KC, with all other sources just saying “MLS.”

That’s two sources, more than typical on these early rumors who usually are just re-quoting the initial source.

Per Google Translate, the other sources say the move is for $2 million over three seasons (they use dollar signs, but it could be Euros according to this report, which is a bit over $2.1m in USD). That would break down to about $700,000 per season. Liebold is under contract through the summer, but the report is that Hamburger plan to release him, which will provide some budget relief, and he’d be leaving on a free transfer.

An additional, earlier report from Bild, says that Liebold wants to leave to get more playing time elsewhere because he’s out of favor with the current coach. He even missed practice, which is speculated that it’s to facilitate a move.

“Timi had private things to settle today. That’s why he wasn’t there. We always said we’d talk to each other in good time,” said Hamburger head coach Tim Walter.

Liebold also plays with Sonny Kittel, who was linked to Kansas City last year when they were looking for help with Gadi Kinda out injured.

How Does this Make Sense for Sporting KC?

At first glance, it doesn’t make sense. SKC already have two left backs in Ben Sweat and Logan Ndenbe. The team actually really needs center backs as they only have three signed for two spots, though Peter Vermes did say new defensive midfielder Nemanja Radoja can play CB too.

There is also the problem we’ve mentioned several times that Sporting KC are out of international roster spots (pending green cards, a trade or a player departure) and are precariously low on senior roster spots.

I will emphasize that this Liebold story is a rumor. It could be an agent or someone else trying to find their client a job. But for the purpose of this exercise, let’s explore how a move like this would be possible.

First, the team could be keeping everyone and moving other players around since you don’t need three left backs. Ben Sweat has experience playing center back, though it was primarily in a back three as the LCB. In addition to Radoja being able to play CB, it’s possible Uri Rosell can play there too (like Ilie was forced to in 2021). This option seems like the absolute worst plan if Kansas City are planning to roll with the three CBs they have rostered (though second round draft pick Chris Rindov looms, but it’s been a decade since a second rounder made the first team).

Option two could be that someone is on the move. The entire U-22 Initiative seems to have been invented to encourage teams to buy young players and develop them and sell them. Maybe the team has an offer for Logan Ndenbe (pure speculation, I’m just throwing out hypotheticals). For that matter, maybe there is a trade in the works for Sweat for a team that needs a veteran LB (I won’t pretend to understand the depth charts of the entirety of MLS).

The last option in my mind is this isn’t real. There are probably other options I’m not thinking of, throw them in the comments.

More on Leibold

The left footed 29-year-old left back has lost his starting job at Hamburger due to an injury. In the 2019-20 season he was a star making 34 appearances in league play, scoring once and adding an astonishing 16 assists from the fullback spot. In 2021 he came back down to earth with four goals and four assists across 29 appearances before picking up a serious injury. Since then, he only has a combined 18 appearances in all competitions over the last two seasons (just four this year).

The injury history is always a bit of a concern. Transfermarkt lists several injuries which always makes you wonder if a player is injury prone. None of them are terribly long-term outside of the aforementioned knee injury and a pelvic injury in the 2016-17 season.

Before coming to Hamburger, Liebold played for FC Nuremburg, Stuttgart II and Freiberg. In 2019, he was sold to Hamburger for €1.80 million.

Here are some highlights before his move to HSV. Quite a few assists, delivering some set pieces and a couple goals mixed in. Typical highlight stuff.

In Conclusion

This is literally called silly season, don’t get too invested in any one rumor. However, with two sources, and both of higher integrity, it could just be you get a player to make your team better when you can. If SKC don’t have a trade partner or a transfer in the works for one of the guys Liebold would replace, then maybe they use the buyout on Sweat (though no offense to Uri Rosell, he should be the player bought out this offseason).

What do you all think of this? Interested? It’s hard to get invested when CB is on everyone’s mind, but I’m looking forward to hearing your takes.