Matt Besler donned a white Sporting Kansas City polo shirt Sunday afternoon as he walked into the media room at Sporting Park for the first time in six weeks. He remains a member of his hometown club — for now.
His long-term plan is still a mystery.
A day after the United States was eliminated from the World Cup, Sporting Club CEO Robb Heineman told The Star there is a “strong possibility” that Besler could pursue a transfer to an overseas club. Eddie Rock, Besler’s agent, said his client is weighing options that include offers from clubs in the English Premier League and Bundesliga in Germany.
Besler left those options on the table Sunday in a meeting with the media before Sporting KC’s match against the Chicago Fire.
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“I’m extremely happy here in Kansas City. It’s a dream of mine to play here. It would be a dream of mine to play my entire career here. That’s one of my dreams,” Besler said. “But you have other dreams, as well. Maybe one of my other dreams could be to play in Europe. If that’s one of my dreams, that’s something I have to think about.”
Besler, 27, remains under contract with Sporting KC through the 2015 season, when he is scheduled to make $220,000. With a contact that pays him $200,000 this season, he is the 32nd-highest paid defender in the MLS, according to figures released earlier this year by the MLS Players Union.
Besler said Sunday he will meet with Heineman and Sporting KC technical director Peter Vermes “very, very shortly,” presumably to discuss a potential raise and contract extension.
While the club will almost certainly be unable to match an offer from the English Premier League — which pays its players an average of $2 million annually — Besler laid out several non-monetary factors that will play into his decision to stay with Sporting KC or pursue a transfer.
“For me, the biggest thing is playing. It’s a little different when you’re 20 years old and you have your whole career ahead of you and you could potentially go somewhere and develop for a couple of years and get better,” Besler said. “I’m not interested in that. I can’t afford to do that — because I’m 27. I need to be playing. If I were to go somewhere, I want to make sure it’s in a situation where I’m going to play regularly and get experience on the field.”
If Besler finds an acceptable landing spot with an overseas club, that team would be required to negotiate a transfer fee with Sporting Kansas City and the MLS. Vermes and Heineman have made it clear they will not block a player’s aspirations to follow other opportunities — but they first plan to make a pitch of their own to Besler.
Besler recognized those options Sunday.
“I think that I’ve made it very clear how happy I am in Kansas City (and) how grateful I am to play here. That hasn’t changed at all,” Besler said. “At the same time, in the position that I’m in right now, you may only get these kind of opportunities once in your lifetime. I feel the need to at least look into potential opportunities and make a decision from there.”