Sporting KC

July 17, 2014

Matt Besler prefers to stay with Sporting

Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman says the team is making progress in its negotiations with both Besler and midfielder Graham Zusi.

Sporting Kansas City captain Matt Besler has expressed a preference to remain in Kansas City for the long term, a source told The Star on Thursday.

While Besler previously conveyed interest in an opportunity to transfer overseas — an option his agent said remains in play — he would rather sign a new long-term contract to remain with his hometown club, the source said.

That same impression has reached Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman, who said late Thursday, “We’ve always had a strong sense that we want to have Matt back. Now we’re getting a strong sense that he wants to be back.”

Eddie Rock, Besler’s agent, said his client has not dismissed the possibility of playing overseas, though he said discussions with Sporting KC have reached “an advanced stage” as the two sides look to reach an agreement on a new contract.

But there’s still work to be done before anything is final.

“We’re making progress,” Heineman said. “Would I say we’re right on the verge of getting something done? No. But discussions are good. And that’s a positive thing.”

Heineman said the team has also continued to make progress in its negotiations with midfielder Graham Zusi, who joined Besler on the United States men’s national team during the World Cup this summer.

Zusi signed a four-year extension in June 2013.

“Things are going equally well with Zusi,” Heineman said. “We’re working in earnest on that, too. We’re making progress there, too.”

Besler remains under contract through the 2015 season, when he will make $220,000. This season he makes $200,000 which makes him the 32nd-highest paid defender in Major League Soccer.

Rock said the negotiations will continue in the coming days and could reach a conclusion — one way or the other — by the end of the weekend.

Rock declined to discuss the specific numbers being exchanged between Besler and Sporting Kansas City, but a source told The Star that reports indicating Besler is seeking to be paid similarly to LA Galaxy defender Omar Gonzalez are unfounded. Gonzalez is the league’s highest paid defender at $1.25 million this season.

Besler is thought to be seeking a contract worth less than $1 million annually, the source said.

If Besler or Zusi opts to pursue an overseas deal, that club would have to pay Sporting Kansas City an agreeable transfer fee.

Besler said Wednesday that English clubs Fulham and Sunderland have shown interest in him.

A report in the Sunderland Echo on Thursday said the English Premier League club is unlikely to make a formal transfer offer.

Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said last week that the club has not been offered a transfer fee for Besler worth discussing.

Besler and Zusi have each played in two matches with Sporting KC since returning from the World Cup.

Sporting KC plays host to the LA Galaxy at 5 p.m. Saturday at Sporting Park.

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