Red Bull Global Soccer took notice: Diadie Samessekou landed at RB Salzburg in August, 2015, fresh from Mali's impressive work at the U-20 World Cup; Amadou Haidara, whose performances at the U-17 World Cup had reportedly caught Chelsea's attention, followed in July 2016; another member of the Mali U-17 squad at the 2015 World Cup, Sekou Koita, is expected to join Salzburg once he turns 18.
The two players already in Salzburg's system are making encouraging progress. Samessekou got regular minutes with Salzburg's reserve team, FC Liefering, last season and is now a starter for the first team. Haidara is getting a lot of time on the field for Liefering so far this season.
Less successful, however, was the effort to share some of Red Bull Global Soccer's interest in Malian youth with the MLS branch of the family.
He’s a young guy, so we have to have some patience with him, but he’s done some really good things so far and I’m excited to see how far he can take it.
Over the course of the season, Simpara got regular appearances in USL - 22 in total for the RBNY reserve team - but most were cameos off the bench. He finished the year with 403 minutes for NYRB II under his belt: the equivalent of about four-and-a-half full games, in which time he scored two goals.
As Wolyniec said: patience - he's a young guy.
It was a little surprising, therefore, when the Red Bulls announced the 18-year-old Simpara had been released from the team.
Signed in April, gone in November: so much for patience.
While it is certainly true that Simpara did not stand out in 2016 as one of the stars of NYRB II's all-conquering team, it is also true that he's a bit younger than the players with whom he was competing for minutes. In the attacking midfield spots to which he seemed best suited, Simpara was stuck behind Vincent Bezecourt (23 years old), Florian Valot (22), Junior Flemmings, and Derrick Etienne (both 20).
There is, of course, no point in wasting a player's time, no matter what his age. If he's not a good fit, he's not a good fit: best to cut ties and let everyone move on.
Still, the club announced it hadn't picked up the option to extend Simpara's contract. Maybe his release was simply a negotiating ploy. Maybe he wasn't so much being released as being re-signed to new terms.
Or not. Unfortunately, the player recently gave an interview to FootMali.com that suggested there isn't much chance of his return. He told FootMali's Alasane Cissouma that his move from AS Bakaridjan hadn't been completely settled:
AS Bakaridjan still has not had its share my transfer
And therefore, not unreasonably, he's not thinking he'll be back:
Not sure I will return to play in the United States with Red Bull, since not only the contract has expired, but the club did not honor the agreement
Simpara advised FootMali that he had interest from a Spanish club.
RBNY declined the opportunity to respond to Simpara's comments - perhaps reasoning that there isn't much for a pro soccer team to gain from squalling with an 18-year-old over possibly-misconstrued or mistranslated statements.
Clearly, both club and player expected a little more from each other's company than 400 minutes for the reserves and a couple of goals. Sadly, it seems those expectations will not get the chance to be fulfilled.
Simpara isn't the first player to voice his disappointment with RBNY on the way out of the club, but Ambroise Oyongo and Anatole Abang are moving on with their careers. Doubtless, Simpara will do the same.
So too will RBNY, whose recently-acquired enthusiasm for developing young players is not without the occasional misstep.