The situation has barely changed at all between Alejandro Kaku Gamarra, the Red Bulls, and presumably an eventual FIFA arbitration venue. But the Paraguay international shed some more light on the chain of events that led him to signing with Al-Taawoun of the Saudi Professional League last month.
In an interview with Bolavip, Kaku claimed that Club América of Liga MX were again among the teams that attempted to purchase him following a dispute with New York over an extension of his contract at the end of last year. América had previously attempted to buy Kaku from New York in early 2019.
“I needed some air” said the 26-year-old who has now appeared in four matches for Al-Taawoun, scoring twice. “The truth is that I had spent three incredible years (in New York) and my contract ended. It was a moment to make a change. I thank (Club América chairman) Santiago Baños for his intentions because he went to look for me twice. The first was for an offer and the second this year before reaching Al-Taawoun FC.”
Kaku stated that the continued interest from the storied Mexico City club is “something nice for once” and, in a statement sure to be brought up in visceral fashion at the next Al-Taawoun town hall meeting, said that “hopefully at some point in my career” he could finally be acquired by Club América.
The Buenos Aires native claimed that América having already maxed out its quota of foreign players prevented a move from happening, although it is unclear whether a deal would have been sanctioned by the Red Bulls or Major League Soccer anyway had it been formally proposed. Kaku confirmed in the interview that Xolos de Tijuana were one of the other teams who placed a bid following the MLS season, but that the Red Bulls “seemed like they didn’t want to sell” as the player and his agents sought a way out after a turbulent three years in New York.
Unlike the Mexican clubs, Al-Taawoun has bypassed the pretense of needing to pay a transfer fee, a situation still ostensibly disputed by the Red Bulls. The unsuccessful but honest attempts by Liga MX to respect New York’s claims and negotiate fees for Kaku implies both some credence to Red Bull’s claims over his contract as well as the need to respect an increasingly fruitful commercial relationship between the American and Mexican soccer structures. While the dispute over Camilo Sanvezzo’s rogue exit from his contract with Vancouver to join Queretaro in 2014 was eventually resolved, it is possible that Liga MX is less willing to enter open transfer combat in 2021 with an MLS whom it is increasingly collaborating on various on and off-field initiatives, including cup tournaments.
Kaku is firmly in the past for the Red Bulls, both on paper and in the collective memory of fans who hadn’t seen the playmaker in his best form since his first season with the club. It is unclear how any of these new details of his exit should reflect on the carousel of club leadership that handled his apparently long-held desire to leave, many of whom have already left or been removed from their roles.
If the newly-installed club leadership of sporting chief Kevin Thelwell and head coach Gerhard Struber believed they had another year to handle the contract of a valuable asset on their terms, they have been within their rights to reject presumably lowballed transfer offers. If Kaku and his agents believed they had a valid legal excuse to ignore the Red Bulls claims as long as they found a foreign venue willing to accommodate it, they have also done nothing but pursue their own interests however possible. Not to be the bearer of bad news again, but in situations like this no one is really worth blaming.
The world of high-level football transfers often defies logic and requires the orchestration of many different parties and interests to find success in. Kaku’s status as a dramatic, big ticket outlier in Red Bull’s recent transfer dealings in New York is the source of much of his legend but also a lesson in why such deals are not as frequent as some fans hope. New York has already dodged one potentially distracting transfer this offseason as Red Bull’s recruitment philosophy of trustworthy pipelines and minimized risk gifts the club not only tactical coherence and consistently motivated talent, but the ability to avoid time-and-energy wasting agent drama that frequently plagues clubs who spend money without planning how to.