Although Walker Zimmerman is currently working in United States Mens’ National Team camp in Chula Vista, Calif., he still has something weighing on his mind: where he will play in 2019. He is, at the moment, out of contract, having last played for Los Angeles Football Club as a defender in 2018.
Over the course of the offseason, it’s been unclear whether Zimmerman, who was key in the center of the defense for Bob Bradley in LAFC’s expansion year in MLS, would return in 2019. There has been reported interest from Club Tijuana in Mexico as well as European clubs in the services of the 25-year-old, and MLS rejected a TAM deal last year which would have seen a raise and an extension for Zimmerman. The result is that the defender is out of contract and could, in theory, go anywhere abroad, with LAFC retaining his MLS rights.
That being said, when asked where he would be playing when he returns to the club side, he sounded pretty certain that a return to LAFC was in the cards, or at least the best option.
“I’m hopeful it’s LAFC,” said Zimmerman at USMNT camp, in a story on MLSsoccer.com this week. “We’re obviously in talks and I think we’re working towards a deal.”
“They made it an organization that you want to be a part of so that’s a big factor whenever you’re in negotiations or you’re out of contract,” he said. “For me it was positive and I think that goes a long way in terms of future aspirations.”
“It’s a great club, great staff, great teammates. It’s a place I would love to be and I think we’re definitely heading in the right direction so I think the hope is to head back to LA.”
The fact that Zimmerman is talking about LAFC’s “future aspirations,“ as well as “the right direction“ is pretty encouraging. You’ll also notice he said “we,“ and yes, that could mean him and the club working on a deal, but the other option is that he still refers to LAFC as “we,“ which we can count as a positive sign. The man does have to deal with a bit of uncertainty, given the fact that he currently has no contract.
“Living in that limbo is, to me, a little stressful especially when you’re married and you have a family to think about,” he added. “At the end of the day, just being able to stay in LA, I know it’s a place my wife and I would love to be, so I’m really hopeful that we get something done.”
The fact that Zimmerman is still in that limbo, and that he says the two sides are working on a deal, tells me it’s pretty likely he will return to LAFC for 2019. For Zimmerman coming back, it’s a matter of when, more so than a matter of if, as it seemed earlier in the offseason. There was reported interest from Europe, but given that we have not heard a whole lot on that front despite the European transfer window opening, and Tijuana has not come up much either after the initial reported interest from Oscar Pareja, it sounds like either a deal couldn’t get done, or interest just cooled down. In any case, the longer Zimmerman remains without a contract, especially to somewhere else, the more likely it seems that we will see him in Black and Gold again.
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