The Philadelphia Union nearly had their first million dollar player. Yahoo! Sports reported that a deal bringing U.S. National Team regular Alejandro Bedoya to the Philadelphia Union was stopped at the last minute by his current club Nantes. The deal reportedly included a $1M transfer fee along with a salary for Bedoya close to $1.2M. The Union were apparently surprised by Nantes' decision after they had come to terms with the midfielder. This news is definitely interesting on a number of levels for Union fans, but first the unidentified source of the information deserves some attention.
If a Union insider was the source, the goal would certainly be to let fans know that the Union tried to spend an unprecedented amount of money, and that they will have money to spend on the right talent during the off-season. The leak would be a message of hope for fans as they consider whether or not to buy season tickets for next year. There has been some discussion this year about the Union's financial wherewithal to spend enough to compete in the league, and this information indicates the Union have the ability to and are willing to spend for talent.
But there are other possibilities for the source. The source could be from Bedoya's camp. Bedoya has started just one of four matches in the young season and perhaps he wanted to signal to the market that he is interested in making a move this winter. The fact that the Union were named specifically might indicate a desire to come to MLS or even to the Union.
It's unlikely the source could be from the Nantes camp. The move does not paint them in a good light as it conveys they could be difficult to deal with. They could also be signaling that a $1M transfer fee isn't sufficient to acquire Bedoya's services.
So there are many motives for telling the story but what can Union fans take away from the news?
For one it does indicate the Union are willing to spend on talent this off-season. Whether it's Bedoya or another player that could make a difference in MLS, the Union appear to be willing to make the move.
The choice of Bedoya from a position point of view is very curious however. Bedoya's skillset is similar to that of Tranquillo Barnetta's and it appears that Bedoya's deal fell through after Barnetta had already signed. While a potentially 2016 midfield of Maurice Edu, Vincent Noguiera, Bedoya, Cristian Maidana and Barnetta is worth dreaming about, the Union appear to have bigger needs along the defensive line and at forward. That midfield would have certainly signaled the end of the relationships with Sebastien Le Toux and Andrew Wenger, whose salaries would have been too big to sit on the bench. It shows though that they aren't satisfied with their level of talent, which is promising, but also reveals another issue.
Through another lens the Union look like they are acting opportunistically in these dealings and don't have a clear plan to address the gaps in talent. Despite the wing play, the Union midfield is currently its strength. Signing two very similar players in the transfer window would have begged a lot of questions about the overall plan.
It appears now the Union are willing to spend on talent, but will they spend it in the right places?