LAFC have made a handful of additions to their roster so far ahead of the 2023 season, but they’ve also seen several members of the double-winning side from 2022 depart as well. Add two more players to that list, as Cristian Tello and Franco Escobar are officially on new clubs.
Tello was unveiled as a new player for Saudi club Al-Fateh on Wednesday.
The Catalan’s stay with LAFC was ultimately very short, as he played just five games and 124 minutes total after being a very late addition to the squad. The 31-year-old played in the MLS Cup Final, but missed his penalty in the shootout to decide the title, and fortunately, his teammates gave him a hand in the end to win the trophy.
In Tello’s case, I suspect LAFC sought to add him as an insurance policy in case Denis Bouanga decided not to join, or perhaps they were all-in on him before getting a shock opportunity to sign Gareth Bale. But LAFC were so stacked in attack in 2022 and Tello was a surprise Designated Player, so it was little surprise LAFC declined his option initially for 2023. And after saying they were renegotiating with him, I suspect the parties were too far apart in terms of those negotiations and they wrapped up fairly quickly. In the end, it was a worthy gamble, LAFC got the trophies, but it seems like more opportunity for that third DP slot moving forward than a big loss to lose Tello, honestly.
Meanwhile, Escobar signed a free agent deal with the Houston Dynamo earlier this month and is in training camp with his new side. Escobar will be under contract through 2024 with an option for the 2025 season.
Escobar’s situation is considerably different than Tello’s. Escobar appeared to be the starting right back at the start of 2022, but ill-timed injuries and a career year from Ryan Hollingshead meant that Escobar had to pick up the scraps in terms of playing time. Meanwhile, LAFC effectively had two starting right backs on starter’s money — a great situation if you can afford it and the players are content, but most teams in MLS can’t afford that luxury and players tend to want to play, obviously. So I am not surprised to see Escobar depart, and I think he had to do what he had to do, and no hard feelings there. He also played a role in winning the double, so thanks to him for that.
Best wishes to Cristian and Franco moving forward in their careers.
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