As LAFC struggle to open the 2021 season, you may or may not have forgotten that one of the team’s Designated Players, Brian Rodriguez, is on loan at Spanish second division club Almería.
How’s it going for the Uruguayan? Buckle up, there’s a lot to fill you in on.
On the field
Rodriguez has seen his minutes pick up some, playing around 400 minutes in the Segunda Liga for Almería, four of his 14 appearances being starts. So he’s seeing some playing time but he hasn’t become a regular starter so far.
Rodriguez has one assist in his stint in Spain so far, and he drew the ire of at least one teammate, Almería’s leading scorer Umar Sadiq, just last week when the players argued over who was going to take a free kick.
Brian Rodríguez disputó 25 minutos más adición en el empate 1-1 entre el Almería y Albacete. Eso no es lo peor, sino que además se peleó con su compañero Sadiq para tirar una falta en el último minuto. #LAFC pic.twitter.com/rLUjz2t6pO— LAFC Uruguay (@lafcuy) May 15, 2021
Well that looks not great!
Off the field
Rodriguez really seems dead set on not returning to LAFC, seeming to close the door on both Almería and LAFC when he gave an interview in recent days to an Uruguayan source, saying, “I am not going to be in a place where I am not happy. I want to feel the adrenaline I felt when I played in Peñarol again.”
In response, Almería fined Rodriguez for speaking out and left him home for a crucial game in their promotion push, so they seem like they’re over him as much as he appears to be over them.
So obviously Almería won’t pick up the purchase option on the loan and he’s definitely returning to LAFC, at least on paper, right? Not so fast!
If Almería get promoted to La Liga in the coming weeks, then Rodriguez’s contract purchase will be automatically triggered, according to a report from The Athletic on Wednesday. I have heard something similar, which has to be one of the most remarkable “poison pill” clauses in recent memory in this situation. The report says the transfer fee would be in the “low eight figures,” which would be roundabout what LAFC paid for him in the first place.
So how close are Almería to promotion, really? They currently sit in 3rd place, but are 11 points behind the 2nd place team with only two matchdays to go, so they can’t mathematically overtake the top two and get automatic promotion. That means if they can maintain a playoff spot (3rd-6th place), they’ll go into the promotion playoffs, with one team advancing from that group to move up to La Liga. If they lost their last two games it’s possible they could crash out of the playoff spots, too, so they still have some work to do to clinch the playoffs.
The short answer is, it’s quite possible! But don’t necessarily put your money down on it just yet.
Now, how do LAFC feel about all this? So far they haven’t said much, because what are they going to say? But head coach Bob Bradley was asked about Rodriguez possibly returning last week and had a succinct answer that showed he hasn’t closed the door on welcoming the player back into the fold.
“It’s possible, will be excited to work with Brian again. But obviously a lot will depend on the playoffs and how they finish their season,” Bradley said.
I would not be shocked if Bradley legitimately feels that way, but I expect the LAFC front office would like to be done with all this and are the world’s biggest Almería fans for the next couple months. If Almería don’t get promoted, he’ll be LAFC’s player again and they’ll have to figure out the mess. If they do, then LAFC should get a check and have the problem off their hands.
So we’ll see what happens, but as I said, it’s been pretty eventful lately around Brian Rodriguez.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.