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Rumor: LAFC “likely” to land Sacha Kljestan

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Trade for one of the best playmakers in MLS would be blockbuster.

MLS: Eastern Conference Knockout Round-New York Red Bulls at Chicago Fire Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

With MLS expansion team Los Angeles Football Club looking to build their roster for their first season, comes an intriguing rumor, one that has been bouncing around for a long time, but now seems to have tangible reporting behind it: LAFC want midfielder Sacha Kljestan from the New York Red Bulls, and the deal just may happen.

The rumor was first reported by Kristian Dyer in Metro on Tuesday:

Then MLSsoccer.com’s Sam Stejskal corroborated the report later in the day:

Kljestan, 32, is a Southern California native and returning to Los Angeles would bring his career full circle, after being drafted out of Seton Hall in 2006 by Chivas USA and Bob Bradley, who is now of course LAFC’s head coach. After playing for Chivas, Kljestan was transferred to Belgian power Anderlecht in 2010, staying there until 2015, when he returned to MLS via the Red Bulls.

Kljestan had a career year as a playmaker in 2016, becoming the second player in MLS history to notch 20 assists. While the Red Bulls struggled intermittently in 2017 after trading a key player away last offseason in Dax McCarty, Kljestan had a pretty remarkable campaign without really any hype around the league, posting 17 assists in MLS regular season play. Kljestan also led MLS in Key Passes in 2017, by a pretty solid margin, too:

Of course, all of this has previously made me skeptical that the Red Bulls would trade Kljestan away. Sure, he’s in his 30s now and at some point he’ll drop off, but after trading their captain away last year and seeing how poorly that turned out in the short term (even if they had a promising replacement waiting in the wings for McCarty in Tyler Adams), to trade away their captain yet again, after he had a near-career year, and with no replacement playmaker on the squad as currently constituted seems like a colossal risk.

But hey, the Red Bulls’ strategy could be LAFC’s gain, and while it’s clear Kljestan wouldn’t be a piece for the next six or seven years, he seems more than capable of pulling the strings (while also playing a substantial amount of defense, something that almost no other playmaker does to the same extent) for a season or three, at least.

So this remains a rumor for the time being, but it seems the pieces are falling into place for it to be more tangible than wishful thinking. If and when it comes down, we’ll have it covered for you.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!