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Reports from Cyprus link Amro Tarek with move to Apollon Limassol

Egyptian international center back has been on fringes of squad this year

MLS: New York Red Bulls at Philadelphia Union
Amro Tarek (left) has been a sporadic starter for the Red Bulls this season
Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Red Bulls may be making some room on the back line.

According to multiple reports out of Cyprus, Apollon Limassol FC is “close to an agreement” with defender Amro Tarek. The two parties remain in contact and “developments are expected soon.” Manager Alexander Zorniger is said to have “positively evaluated” the transfer. Balla claims that “the only thing left [is] the confirmation with his announcement” and “a medical examination.”

The transfer negotiations began “25 days ago” and there was a “difference” in demands, but Apollo is in serious need of a center back after an injury to Valentin Roberge. These disagreements are said to have been settled, as the club was “optimistic” about acquiring the player. Regardless of timing, Tarek will not be registered for the upcoming UEFA Europa Conference League qualifier against MŠK Žilina, scheduled for Thursday, July 29th.

Located on the southern coast, Limassol is the second largest urban area on the island nation of Cyprus. Apollo has won the Cypriot First Division three times, most recently in 2006. Last season, the club finished in third place, a mere two points behind champions AC Omonoia Nicosia. The thrilling chase ended with a 1-1 draw between the two sides on the final match day.

Tarek came to New York from Orlando City SC in December of 2018, exchanged for a fourth-round MLS SuperDraft selection. Having played for then-Red Bulls assistant coach CJ Brown at Orlando, Tarek was expected to become a versatile veteran defensive piece in the team Chris Armas sought to keep at the top of Major League Soccer...but let’s just say things didn’t work out as hoped. The California-born Egyptian international has made 39 appearances for the Red Bulls, although with decreasing regularity in each successive season. Despite an injury crisis in the center of defense this summer, Gerhard Struber has at times opted to leave him on the bench, instead choosing to play an out-of-position Tom Edwards at center back.

Avoiding gauche discussions of salary cap space and individual player earnings, Tarek appears to be outside of the current regime’s plans. While he has some inherent value due to not requiring an international slot as well as being a serviceable and somewhat versatile defender, the possibility of a transfer fee for an aging journeyman might be too tempting to ignore. Apollon Limassol offers immediate playing time and European football, which are appealing prospects when compared to the role of an infrequently used veteran near the periphery of a roster re-build centered on a youth movement. Determining him to be surplus goods in New York could turn out to be an oddly ideal end for all involved.

But then again, more proposed transfers collapse than get completed, and perhaps this deal’s window of opportunity has already passed over the last month. Despite the aforementioned benching for Edwards, Tarek has now returned to the starting lineup for two consecutive games. Whether planned or not, the Red Bulls have not added any center back depth during the current transfer window, and losing an additional senior body at the position would be playing with fire on the part of Gerhard Struber and Kevin Thelwell.