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Vancouver Whitecaps FAQs: What’s The Deal With Fredy Montero?

MLS: Western Conference Semifinal-Vancouver Whitecaps at Seattle Sounders Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Vancouver Whitecaps FAQs. This is a new series i’m planning to help casual fans keep up with the team. Despite an average attendance of 20,000, outlets that write about the ‘Caps like us, or our friends over at AFTN and FTBL tend to have a core readership of only a few thousand. If you measure by Twitter followers we’re all somewhere between 1000 and 3000 followers. This suggests to me that there’s a lot of causal fans of the ‘Caps out there who aren’t necessarily keeping up with the latest news. Now there’s nothing wrong with being a casual fan, i’m a casual fan of lots of stuff, but one needs only to go to any Whitecaps post on Facebook or Twitter to see that there’s a lot of people who are a bit confused about what’s actually going on. So rather than explain it to each of them individually my plan is to have ready made answers that people can link these fans to, in order to help them out. If you are a casual fan who’s been linked to this article we’d love to have you as a regular reader. We get more clicks and you get to impress your friends with your extensive Whitecaps knowledge; Everybody wins! With that said let’s get into todays FAQ.

So what’s going on with Fredy Montero? The Columbian striker scored more goals than any Whitecaps striker since 2013 and now it seems he may not be back. Is his time done? And if so, Why? Well it’s an exciting answer that involves transfer fees and Chinese politics.

You may have noticed that a lot of players have been heading to China for big money latley. This is because Chinese president Xi Jinping is a big soccer fan and has been encouraging huge domestic investment in the game. Additionally, being a soccer power, both in terms of having a strong domestic league and a competitive national team would greatly help China’s image as a world power. This has lead to a number of Chinese clubs spending huge amounts of money to bring in recognizable names like Carlos Tevez, Alexandre Pato and Oscar. Recently, however, there have been concerns in China that their league is to dominated by foreigners and that the growth of domestic talent is being stifled. Thus new rules were introduced to encourage teams to field domestic players. The number of foreigners allowed was lowered, a quota for U23 players was introduced and the signing of foreign goalkeepers was banned all together (this means that the rumours of Iker Casillas moving to China that emerged last summer were literally impossible).

These changes left a lot of teams with expensive foreigners that they couldn’t use. Many teams simply released a couple players (this is how the Whitecaps were able to sign Aly Ghezal on a free transfer) but some clubs were less willing to take the financial hit of buying players out of their massive contracts. This is the case for Montero’s club Tianjin TEDA (colloquially referred to in Vancouver as “the Chinese clubs”). Tianjin were unable to sell Montero on such short notice so the Whitecaps agreed to take him on loan and pay a portion of his salary. This was cheaper than buying Montero out of his contract all together.

Since last year the Whitecaps have signed two strikers, Anthony Blondell and Kei Kamara. It was initially assumed that this meant that Montero would not be returning until Jeff Carlisle confirmed that the ‘Caps are still in talks to bring Montero back.

Based on the information we have and the available evidence the most likely state of affairs is the following: Tianjin either can’t afford or are unwilling to buy Montero out of his contract. Thus they have a very expensive player they can’t use and want to get rid of. They would prefer to get a transfer fee but Montero is 30 years old and on a hugely inflated contract. This makes selling him a very difficult proposition. It’s unlikely that the famously frugal Whitecaps would be willing to shell out the cash to buy Montero outright so they’re offer is most likely another loan deal. This leads me to believe that the Whitecaps have told Tianjin that if Tianjin can’t sell Montero then the Whitecaps will take him on loan for another year. This would give Tianjin more time to shop him around and would mean that they wouldn’t have to buy him out of his contract. This means that the Whitecaps are open to bringing Montero back but aren’t assuming he will, hence the signing of Blondell and Kamara. If any news is Forthcoming on Montero it will be when the Chinese winter transfer window is about to close (it closed on February 26th last year) and Tianjin have given up on selling Montero this window.

Thanks for reading. If you were linked to this article, did it answer your question? What are some other frequently asked questions you’d like to see answered? Let me know in the comments.