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CSKA Sofia played the transfer game exactly right

With hindsight as clear as a bell, CSKA got their man for nothing more than a well-timed rumor.

Photo Gallery // Philadelphia Union vs Seattle Sounders Trey Madara / Brotherly Game

To absolutely no one’s surprise, Roland Alberg will not be coming back to the Philadelphia Union next season. That he’s already signed with CSKA Sofia is a bit off, but it seems the Bulgarian side has had their eye on Alberg for quite some time now and with the season ending and his contract expiring, it was time to pull the trigger.

But what about the Union? Why didn’t they just sell him earlier on when CSKA expressed interest instead of waiting for his contract to expire?

It might not have been so simple. Alberg had to if he was going to return to the Union, it would have most likely been at a reduced salary and role. It’s doubtful that he would have accepted those terms. CSKA most likely knew his situation and saw the opportunity to get Alberg on a free transfer - if they played a long game. When they expressed interest in him earlier this summer, they effectively created a market of one for him. At that point, the Union were out of options. Why would CSKA have tried paying a transfer fee in the summer when they could wait six months and pick him up free of charge?

The good news for Union fans is that the club is all but forced to acquire someone for the 10 spot. As we saw this past season, Ilsinho isn’t a starting caliber number 10, and Adam Najem seems a couple of seasons away from that role at this point. There isn’t a better opportunity from the club’s standpoint to try and snatch someone of quality off of the transfer market. They’ve freed up an international slot and almost $400,000 in guaranteed compensation (who knows how much of that was bought down by allocation money) that they’ll be able to utilize in 2018.