Ives Galarcep has been tracking New York Red Bulls' negotiations with Adam Najem for a while now, so it will be fitting if the veteran MLS reporter has figured out the story's conclusion.
After reporting that Najem's Homegrown Player rights had been put on the trading block by RBNY, and explaining that club and player had reached an impasse in contract talks, Galarcep's latest report for Goal.com states the player's rights have been traded away to Philadelphia Union.
Najem will be starting his pro career as a member of the Philadelphia Union, with sources telling Goal that the Red Bulls have traded Najem’s rights to the Union.
A rumor still, but one Galarcep's reporting suggests will soon be confirmed.
Per Galarcep, RBNY wouldn't budge from a year-old, league-minimum offer and Najem would not be swayed from the view his highly-rated talents were worth more than a $51,500 salary.
In the short term, the deal is no great loss to the Red Bulls. The team has a stack of attacking midfielders on its roster; indeed, it just drafted two more attacking players (Zeiko Lewis and Ethan Kutler - though the latter is being eyed as a possible future right back) for 2017. But Najem has long been regarded as one of the better prospects in the RBNY Academy pipeline. His brother David is contracted to NYRB II. There will be much second-guessing of the (rumored) decision to lowball Najem out of Harrison if he makes good on his potential and RBNY does not prove to have comparable or greater talents coming through in the same time frame.
If the deal does indeed go through as predicted, immediate evaluation will rest on what it is RBNY got in exchange for Najem's rights and whether that seems adequate compensation for a player who might reasonably have been regarded as a top draft pick. A longer-term assessment might ultimately rest on any evidence that the latest Red Bull Homegrown prospect to slip away from the team has in any way further slowed the sluggish flow of the club's development pipeline.
If Galarcep's reporting is accurate, the Red Bulls simply didn't value Najem highly enough to make the necessary effort to secure him to a contract. He got a low, take-it-or-leave-it offer and he chose to leave it. He might make the team regret its decision, he might not. It is not in itself harmful to the club to have reached a decision about a player and stuck to it. Any perception among current or future top-tier talents that the RBNY Academy is a path leading to a pro soccer career away from RBNY - that would be harmful, of course.
But long-term, off-field consequences as difficult to verify as they are to evaluate. If he's side-stepped the Red Bulls, Najem isn't the first Homegrown prospect RBNY has taken a swing at and missed, nor will he be the last. Player ad club can survive and thrive, just not together as might have been hoped.