Sporting Kansas City agrees to transfer midfielder Uri Rosell to Portuguese club

12/31/1840 9:00 AM

06/03/2014 6:41 PM

Uri Rosell is leaving Sporting Kansas City.

Rosell signed a five-year contract Tuesday with Sporting Clube de Portugal, a team based out of Portugal’s capital city of Lisbon, after Sporting KC agreed to his transfer.

The amount of transfer money exchanged between the two clubs was not disclosed, but a source with knowledge of the deal told The Star it will net Sporting KC more than $1 million.

“It was a decision we made as an organization that was good for both sides,” Sporting KC coach and technical director Peter Vermes said. “At the end of the day, it works out for us, and we’ll move on to the next. Uri’s been great for us. Now it’s time for us to move on to the next step.”

The transfer gives Sporting KC some desired financial flexibility. Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman said he plans to use the money to add transfers and potentially extend the contracts of existing players, specifically Matt Belser and Graham Zusi.

That plan is already in the works. Heineman said the club has “verbally agreed” to a contract with one transfer and is close to an agreement with another.

“There are some additions we want to make to the team and some things we want to do to fortify the core,” Heineman said. “With the opportunity presented with Uri, the timing worked out relatively well for us to make a deal.

“I think he’s going to do well over there, but I think in the construct of how we want to make up our team going forward, we feel like we’re going to have the opportunity, with this transaction, to do some of the things we want to do.”

Sporting KC will receive two-thirds of the transfer fee, while the remaining one-third will be retained by the Major League Soccer front office. The portion allocated to Sporting KC can be used toward the salary cap and for potential transfers. The summer transfer window opens July 8 and runs through Aug. 6.

The financial flexibility comes at a price.

A product of the La Masia Academy in Barcelona, Rosell started 31 league matches in the 2013 championship season, scoring once and adding two assists.

Since joining the team in August 2012, he provided a neat fit in the club’s three-man midfield. He served as the intercepting, holding midfielder, quickly evolving into a key player. In a match last month in Montreal, Rosell shattered an MLS record when he completed 160 passes and totaled 174 touches.

Rosell, who turns 22 next month, has previously expressed his desire to return to Europe, though Vermes said the player did not request the move. The two clubs discussed the transfer for the better part of a month, Vermes said, with the deal being finalized over the past few days.

“They kept coming back to us, and (in) the end, it was the right deal to do,” Vermes said before later adding, “Our idea is not to be a selling club by any means, but sometimes the economics are what they are.”

The departure leaves a hole in an already thin lineup depleted by a rash of injuries and international absences.

Vermes pointed to Lawrence Olum as the player likely to fill Rosell’s spot going forward. After two matches with the Kenyan national team, Olum was scheduled to return to Kansas City on Tuesday afternoon, though his availability for Friday’s match in Houston isn’t yet known.

“I think (Olum) can play that position very well,” Vermes said. “In two years, he’s played in two finals for us, and we won both finals. That’s pretty good stats for a guy who comes in and fills a roll. I think he can fill in that position very well.”

Rosell is the third Sporting KC player in the past 18 months to depart for Europe. Kei Kamara was transferred to Middlesbrough FC (England) in a deal last September, and Roger Espinoza signed with Wigan Athletic (England) in 2013.

Sporting KC has been linked to potentially re-acquiring Espinoza, but Vermes downplayed that rumor Tuesday.

“As of right now, there’s nothing there,” he said.

But that doesn’t mean the team isn’t looking for outside help.

“We’re always working on stuff,” Vermes said. “I don’t make any announcement until the deal is done. But we’re always working on stuff. That’s all I can say to you.”

To reach Sam McDowell, send email to smcdowell@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/SamMcDowell11.

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