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Rumor: Sporting KC Linked to 22-Year-Old Midfielder Yazbek

Sporting Kansas City have said they are going to spend over the next three transfer windows. Is this one of the moves they’ll make?

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Credit: Thad Bell

Sporting Kansas City‘s 2024 season has been a bit off the rails for the last couple months. The team has slid down the Western Conference standings and the team is an abysmal 1-9-2 in their last 12 games. With the season now more than half over, many fans have turned to the summer transfer window to save Sporting KC’s season. The issue is, if/when a player arrives, there will only be nine or 10 games to go since the window doesn’t open until July 18th.

Then again, what better time to fix the team for the future than now? And if you want to have a player in the door right when the window opens, getting the business done early is a must.

The newest rumor comes in the form of a player out of Liverpool… Australia. According to FRBL out of Australia and Stavanger Aftenblad out of Norway, midfielder Patrick Yazbeck may be headed to the United States to play for Sporting KC. FTBL says SKC are “close to agreeing [to] an undisclosed fee.”

Who is Patrick Yazbek?

He’s a 22-year-old central midfielder who currently plays for Viking FK in the Eliteserien, the Norwegian top flight. According to Transfermarkt, he is listed as a central mid who can also play defensive midfielder. That would seemingly fit a need that Peter Vermes specifically pointed out to the KC Star last week.

It’s possible he’s more of a box-to-box or defensive midfielder based on some of his stats this season. In league and cup play he has 11 appearances, zero goals and two assists. However, in 2023, he had 28 appearances with two goals and five assists. In his very young career, he’s played 91 times, scored four goals and added 10 assists across 6,193 minutes. It definitely doesn’t fit the profile of an attacking midfielder.

TM lists Yazbek as more often playing ‘central midfielder’ over d-mid, but the always reliable Wikipedia lists him as a d-mid, as does EA FC. The following brief highlight package has him a little deeper most of the time, but with some decent pace to get into the attack.

Yazbek has also made his senior national team debut for Australia this year, getting an appearance back in March. Previously he featured semi-regularly with the Aussie U-23s.

Financial Fit with SKC?

Speaking of Transfermarkt, they currently have his value at €2.5 million ($2.68m USD). They also show Yazbek is under contract with Viking until December of 2026. That would imply a fee would be necessary to pry him free for a move this summer, which aligns with the reporting.

With Yazbek only being 22 years old, that can be a plus because of new rules on the way to Major League Soccer. If a team only has two Designated Players (DP) then they are able to add a fourth U-22 Initiative signing. Quickly: a U-22 Initiative signing can have an unlimited transfer fee as long as their salary is below the salary budget max ($683,750 in 2024).

Sporting KC technically have three DPs, but they have the funds to buy down a player like Daniel Salloi ($1.3m salary) to comply with the new rule. Not to mention they only need half the GAM/TAM to buy him down and they’ll get another $1 million in GAM with the new rules. This would hardly preclude them from further moves this summer.

It would be a good bit of business for Viking if they can get a fee anywhere near Transfermarkt’s value as they just acquired Yazbek for €475,000 back in February 2023.

The big question then becomes, who found Yazbeck? The last three U-22 signings, Logan Ndenbe, Marinos Tzionis and Robert Voloder, have yet to become regular contributors. Ndenbe broke through in late 2023 before promptly tearing his ACL in the playoffs. Youth signings are inherently riskier and MLS is a step up from Norway and Australia.

This is the second rumored U-22 signing for KC in recent weeks. A month ago, 21-year-old Bryant Ortega out of Venezuela, was tied to a move to Kansas City. At the very least, midfielder is a need with the loss of Gadi Kinda and presumably Felipe Hernandez, plus the injury to Remi Walter which has sapped the depth of the team.

What do you think? Is this signing of interest to you? Sound off in the comments.

[Update 6/20/2024: Looks like Nashville may be the landing spot for Yazbek.]

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