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Philadelphia Union ink Kai Wagner to a new contract

Left back’s new deal is guaranteed through 2022 with an option for the 2023 season

Carl Gulbish

Transfer rumors around Philadelphia Union left back Kai Wagner were temporarily put to rest on Friday with the announcement that he’s been inked to a new deal.

Wagner’s new contract is guaranteed through 2022 with a club option for 2023.

The 23-year-old has been rumored to be on the radar of West Ham and Fulham in England. That along with an unfortunately timed interview in the German press where he talked about leaving the club by this summer right before the Union playoff match fueled thinking he might not be back this season.

“Kai has been one of the best left backs in our league since he arrived in Philadelphia,” Ernst Tanner, Union Sporting Director, said in a news release. “We ask our defenders to dominate an entire flank by themselves, and he continually shows he is up to the challenge. We are delighted to have come to a longer-term agreement with Kai.”

While the new deal doesn’t prevent a future transfer — even one as early as this summer — it certainly is a blow to the prospects for 21-year-old homegrown Matt Real, who would have stood to have a chance at earning a starting job had Wagner departed this offseason.

Wagner has made 44 regular-season appearances since joining Philadelphia in 2019. Injuries both in the beginning of the season and after play resumed from the coronavirus shutdown saw him miss nine matches in the 2020 campaign.