Here at Eighty Six Forever we have written several pieces, throughout the season, highlighting the important growth and/or contributions of specific Whitecaps players. Thus far, we have written about the Value of Octavio Rivero, the Evolution of Kekuta Manneh, and the Value of Pa-Modou Kah (Beyond a Striker). Given his recent run of form, we felt it was time to highlight the contributions of Cristian Techera, and pose some important questions to all of you as we head into the stretch-run of the season.
On April 9th, the Vancouver Whitecaps officially announced the acquisition of their 4th Uruguayan Cristian Techera, via a season-long loan, with a transfer option at the end of the season. Carl Robinson noted that Techera was a 'natural' winger and highlighted his speed and how he could contribute to the team. I was excited by this signing as I believed that the wing was where they needed some reinforcements. At that point, the only 'true' winger the Whitecaps had was Rosales, and given his age and injury concerns I felt he could not be relied on for an entire season. Especially given that the Whitecaps were to be playing across three competitions this season. While Manneh has asserted himself as an important wide player, back in April there were still many questions remaining about his ability, and suitability, to play as a winger. Adding to Techera's natural winger skill set, his familiarity with the other 3 Uruguayan's on the Whitecaps had me excited that he could fit in quickly and begin to perform.
We did not have to wait long to see the contributions of Techera. While he played his first game for the Whitecaps on April 25th, against DC United, coming in as a 76th minute substitution, his true first moments came a few weeks later when he came on in the 12th minute for an injured Rosales, against Philadelphia. 20 minutes later, Techera placed a perfectly weighted ball in to the feet of Morales, who slotted it into the corner of the net. Since that game, Techera has continued to be a highlight for the Whitecaps. Over his last 5 MLS games, Techera has played 408 minutes, scoring 4 goals and adding 2 assists.
While the importance of El Bicho (The Bug) have been noted by Whitecaps fans, what may be more surprising is the amount of attention Techera has received across MLS (see here and here). Although it is nice to see, the attention does lead to an important question that will need to be answered shortly: What happens at the end of this season?
A quick view of the MLS Players Union website reveals that Techera base salary this season is $60,000, with a cap hit of $85,000. I suspect he makes considerably more but that the Whitecaps are only responsible for $60,000 of it (think the loan of Julio Cesar last year with TFC). If the Whitecaps were to retain the services of Techera for next season, and I think this is a no-brainer, it is unclear what that would cost.
According to Transfermarkt, Cristian Techera is valued at 850k, as of February 2015. To put that in perspective, David Ousted is valued at 600k, while Kendall Waston is at 500k (mind you, so are Jordan Harvey and Steven Beitashour), Matias Laba and Kekuta Manneh are at 450k, and Octavio Rivero and Darren Mattocks are at 800k. We know that there is an option-to-buy for the Whitecaps at the end of the season, but as per usual, it is unclear what that cost might be. In an effort to determine that number, I viewed a few different websites and came up with a variety of numbers, that meant absolutely NOTHING to me. For example, on NowGoal (a British website, so think £) Techera is listed with a transfer fee of 6.5 (see what I mean about making no sense). Going back to Transfermarkt, there is the odd inclusion of a 'loan fee' of 74k. I tried to look that up and could not find much, and did not see it as a common addition to other player profiles. It might mean that the Whitecaps needed to pay 74k just so they could have him on loan; not sure how that fits into the salary cap stuff. If my assessment is true -that they payed 74k just to have him play here this season- we can expect his transfer price to be considerably higher. Again, for perspective, it has been estimated that the transfer fee for Rivero was between 2.5 and 3.0 million while Laba's has been guestimated to be 1.2 million. Needless to say, we should expect El Bicho's transfer fee to be in that range.
Early this season, MLS implemented the "Extra DP for LA Galaxy Rule #2" via Targeted Allocation. This could prove to be quite beneficial for the Whitecaps as its 'purpose' is to allow for the signing of mid-ranged players, which would probably include Techera. The Whitecaps should also have a large chunk of 'regular' allocation funds coming given their participation in the CONCACAF Champions league (for more on allocation money obtainment see here).
We now ask you, what are you willing to pay (or expect to pay) to retain El Bicho's services for next season (transfer fee and salary)?