The Red Bulls appear to have landed their first major transfer target of the 2017 summer window. The deal for Sporting San Miguelito defender Fidel Escobar has reportedly been completed.
On Sunday evening, Sporting S.M. announced on their official Twitter account that an agreement had been reached with the Red Bulls to loan the 22-year-old defender on a one-and-a-half year deal with an option for the MLS side to buy.
Nuestro #Rojinegro Fidel Escobar pasa a ser jugador del @newyorkredbulls— Sporting SM F.C. (@sportingsm) July 24, 2017
Firma por año y medio con opción a compra.#RojinegrosPorElMundo pic.twitter.com/KX6lcRRUmv
TV MAX’s Somos La Sele had reported the same details on Friday, July 21, and caught up with Escobar himself in search of confirmation. The player diplomatically declined the request: “I know nothing. Talk to my agent.”
Escobar’s agent - Edgardo Ruben Carles - told Somos La Sele “almost everything is ready”.
And the same news was filtering through to reporters covering RBNY’s side of things:
Per source, confirming reports from Central America about Panamanian centerback Fidel Escobar. Closing in on deal with #RBNY.— Kristian Dyer (@KristianRDyer) July 21, 2017
For those curious, Fidel Escobar is in town and has had his obligatory medical. Things lining up for move to #RBNY— Kristian Dyer (@KristianRDyer) July 22, 2017
Indeed, by Wednesday, July 26, there was a picture in circulation of Escobar in RBNY gear.
The tweet has been deleted... but anyway...— Fernando Gonzalez (@Jerzyiroc) July 26, 2017
Our new CB. #29, Fidel Escobar #RBNY pic.twitter.com/Yrnex1dSIb
No deal is done until it is officially announced by the club, but this deal has been officially announced by Sporting San Miguelito and reported by reputable media in Panama and the USA.
Escobar is not officially a New York Red Bulls player because the New York Red Bulls have not officially announced he is a New York Red Bulls player. But we’re at that point in the life-cycle of a transfer story where RBNY will need to explain what went wrong if Escobar is not eventually added to the roster.
Joining San Francisco F.C. out of the club’s academy in 2013, Escobar played 16 games and scored one goal before signing with Sporting S.M. in 2014. Since then, he has played in 65 games and scored six goals, earning his way onto the Panama national team in the process. Escobar spent the 2016-17 season on loan with Sporting CP B, the reserve side of the Portuguese Primeira Liga giants.
The Panamanian defender ended up being one of the standout players for Los Canaleros during the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, with the team allowing just two goals in the group stage before a loss to Costa Rica in the quarter-finals.
One of Escobar’s teammates on the squad was RBNY defender Michael Amir Murillo, who played alongside Escobar in the majority of Panama’s matches. Murillo also happens to have attended the same youth academy as Escobar at San Francisco F.C.
Transfer Markt values Escobar at 125,000 euros (~$145k). He is expected to be the answer to the Red Bulls’ season-long need for a center-back capable of challenging for a starting spot right away - in essence, a replacement for Gideon Baah, whose season-ending injury designation prevents him from making any appearances for the first team in 2017.
The Red Bulls do not, of course, need to make any announcements before they are ready - and there is a little more to a signing than simply completing a medical and agreeing terms. While RBNY finalizes whatever details remain to be addressed with regard to Escobar, we can perhaps look forward to a few more reports and rogue social media posts.