“It shows that the plan is working. That we have now moved a player to a top-level team in Europe.”
Those were, in part, the opening remarks from LAFC Co-President John Thorrington as he addressed media on Wednesday after the club confirmed Diego Rossi has been transferred to Turkish club Fenerbahçe, on loan for now. While Rossi’s departure might shock some fans, for LAFC, it’s a culmination of what they’ve always wanted as a club.
“For us, Diego is the first [to move to Europe], and we hope that he paves the way for our other young players that are already here, and the ones that will come” he went on. While this is great for the club in terms of building a destination for young, talented players wouldn't mind coming to, this is also a great opportunity for Rossi himself, Thorrington explained.
Every player who laces up boots hopes to one day play in Europe, performing on the biggest stages, and the move therefore is a huge step towards that for Rossi. “This dates back to the first conversation Bob [Bradley] and I had with Diego in a hotel in Uruguay in 2017. Diego has always had the ambition, as many of our young players do, to come to LAFC, and if the right opportunity presented itself, to go to Europe,” Thorrington said.
It’s no secret Rossi was one of a few LAFC players that European teams have eyes on, and the GM explained if not for the COVID pandemic in 2020, one has to wonder if maybe some players who had moves on the horizon had to delay.
Head coach Bob Bradley echoed the sentiments of Thorrington with regards to Rossi, but did admit the thought of a move could have played a role in his slight dip in performance this season, even while leaving as the team’s top scorer this season.
“In an ideal world, some players would have moved on earlier, and the longer it goes, the more they feel like the opportunity for them is getting away. Then, in some cases, their pure ability to be as sharp and concentrated on things here, is not as high,” Bradley explained.
Going forward, Bradley knows he has to keep the team focused for the final push of the season.
“Part of my job is to find really good ways to challenge guys...” he explained. “I do think at some level, with some guys, they have had other things on their mind and haven't been completely engaged. I’ve had a lot of discussions with a lot of guys about those things, getting everybody to be alive at the most important time of the year is still really important.”
While the move is currently classified as a loan, everyone within LAFC seem confident that this will turn into a permanent deal, and Thorrington explicitly noted the team is shopping for a new Designated Player. Unlike with what we saw when Brian Rodriguez went on his loan deal, discussions around who will replace Rossi’s DP spot have already begun.
LAFC are so confident about Diego Rossi's move being permanent that the club is already in discussions with potential Designated Player replacement to be signed this winter, I've been told by a source with knowledge of the situation.— Alicia Rodriguez (@soccermusings) September 1, 2021
While this may hurt LAFC in terms of depth, and goal scoring ability for the remainder of 2021, it does help the team in the long run, if they can attract more young talent and reload the team properly with the proceeds of the sale. Now, it’s up to the front office to use the DP spot wisely, so that LAFC can remain competitive in an always improving Western Conference.
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