Sporting KC

Sporting KC acquires Ghanaian winger Latif Blessing in transfer deal

Latif Blessing.
Latif Blessing. Sporting Kansas City

During an offseason in which Sporting Kansas City centralized resources on reinvigorating the offense, the club took another step Monday morning.

Sporting KC made official the transfer acquisition of winger Latif Blessing from Liberty Professionals FC of the Ghana Premier League, five days after it announced it had added designated player Gerso Fernandes at the same position.

The contract with Blessing, reported by The Star last month, will run through the 2019 season with an option for 2020.

Blessing, who turned 20 on Dec. 30, was named the most valuable player of the Ghana Premier League last month after he led the league with 17 goals.

“The great thing we love about him is that he is young but with a lot of upside, as evidence by his goal-scoring record with his previous club,” Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. “With every player you acquire, you always feel they have potential, but we also think he has a great attitude. And we think he has the ability to reach his potential with our club.”

Blessing, a native of Ghana, received a call-up to his country’s national team in December, when he was named to the 30-player provisional roster for the African Cup of Nations, though he was not selected for the final roster.

He has spent his entire career in Ghana. After maturing through the Liberty Professionals youth academy, he made his senior-team debut last February and scored his first goal a week later.

While Blessing and Fernandes play the same position — the outskirts of the front line — they do so with a mix of talent. Whereas Vermes acknowledged Fernandes’ primary focus is creating for his teammates, Blessing is a goal scorer. He notched two hat tricks in 2016.

The two players do, however, possess a handful of similar qualities. Like Fernandes, Blessing is of smaller stature. He is 5-7 and 140 pounds and noted for his speed on the wings.

“That was an area of focus for us,” Vermes said of the position during a teleconference with reporters last week. “We brought in some younger talent as well. It’s an important position within our system.”

He added, “Pace is always a big help, so yes, I think pace is an important aspect. For sure, we were looking for that.”