Friday morning Kevin Kinkead reported that the Philadelphia Union are targeting 29 year-old Danish international WIlliam Kvist as a possible signing during the offseason. The defensive midfielder, who has made 52 appearances with the Denmark national team, currently plays for Wigan Athletic in the English Championship. Recent Union front office hiring Rene Meulensteen acquired Kvist earlier this year in January during his short-lived stint as manager at Fulham.
Kvist has played at the highest levels both at club-level and internationally. He started in Denmark's midfield for all three matches at Euro 2012. Before arriving at Fulham, he was a consistent starter for three years at German Bundesliga club VFB Stuttgart. Fulham declined to pick up Kvist's contract option during the summer after making only eight appearances, making him a free agent. Wigan signed Kvist to a one year deal in September, but Kvist has not appeared in the Latics' gameday eighteen for a month. He appears to be out of favor with the club.
At first glance, this appears to be a odd target for the Union given the club's scoring struggles during the last months of the season, the club's deep reserve of defensive midfielders, and Kvist's recent poor form. It makes a lot more sense when you look a little deeper.
Besides the search for a top drawer striker, one the Union's biggest offseason quandaries is what to do with Maurice Edu and Amobi Okugo. Amobi is most likely headed to Orlando City, Brian Carroll might be retiring after a long, storied MLS career, and Michael Lahoud hasn't shown any sign that he could be a capable starting defensive midfielder. Edu currently has all the leverage to put a serious dent in the Union's wallets despite the fact that he had an up-and-down first season with the Union. Signing Kvist would give the Union some breathing room in negotiating with Edu; resigning him would no longer be a necessity. Don't get me wrong, I like Edu's leadership on and off the field and his flexibility in being able to play two positions is very valuable. But it helps the Union's chances at securing a high-profile striker if they don't have to give Edu the farm, and a center back pairing featuring Carlos Valdes and Ethan White (with Kvist in front and Rais M'Bolhi) is perfectly adequate.
Kvist's lack of recent playing time with a English Championship side threatened by relegation might be a red flag. The Dane may also just need a change of scenery. As a Liverpool fan, I've seen plenty of talented non-English players (Andriy Voronin, Iago Aspas, Mario Balotelli) who don't fare well with the physical nature of English football. In the last 18 months, he's played top leagues like the EPL and Bundesliga, and in the summer of 2013 he was close to signing with Spanish powerhouse Atletico Madrid. At 29 years old, Kvist could still be a terrific player in a league like MLS.
Like last winter's signings Cristian Maidana (mutually agreed to terminated his contract), Vincent Nogueira (Sochaux were facing relegation), and Maurice Edu (out of favor), acquiring Kvist would be the Union taking advantage of an adverse club situation to create a bargain. As long as Kvist isn't asking for a Designated Player-level salary, the Union should press hard to sign a player who could potentially be part of one of the league's best defenses.