PHILADELPHIA – Bringing Maurice Edu back to Major League Soccer might become something of a backroom slog over the next two weeks, but it appears all parties involved are eager to put in the work.
The Philadelphia Union were linked with the longtime US national team midfielder via Goal.com earlier this week after making a trade to acquire the top spot in the league’s allocation order, and club president Nick Sakiewicz said Thursday that he’s optimistic a deal will get done before the transfer window closes on Jan. 31.
“We just want to make sure we do it right,” Sakiewicz told the media during the MLS SuperDraft. “Right for Mo. Right for the league. Right financially for the Union. We want him. And he wants to be here. But the negotiating process is very fluid and unpredictable.”
Edu, 27, left Major League Soccer midway through the 2008 season after breaking through as the top draft pick and Rookie of the Year in 2007 with Toronto FC. He’s earned 45 caps for the US national team and was once a lock to appear in the World Cup this summer in Brazil, but he’s found playing time hard to come by since leaving Scottish side Rangers in 2012.
The rumors of his return come on the heels of similar moves orchestrated by Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley in the past six months, signifying a shift in thought for US players trying to stay in form for head coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad in Brazil.
Sakiewicz balked at recent reports that the club had a financial deal for between $1.2-1.4 million in place to land Edu that was blocked by league, insisting that no deal was ever in place and that negotiations are ongoing.
“I don’t know who told you we agreed [to Edu’s potential pricetag],” Sakiewicz said. “We haven’t agreed to anything. We don’t have an agreement.
“We’re very much working with the league in concert, as opposed to the rumor that wasn’t true,” he added. ”And these things kind of turn. They can turn on a dime – positively or backwards. We’re living it every minute and every hour counts.”
MLS Commissioner Don Garber echoed Sakiewicz’s sentiments that both the league and Edu’s team are eager to get a deal done before the transfer window closes, and insisted that the league has not blocked any potential deal already in place.
“Discussions are ongoing,” Garber said. “They’re going to continue to negotiate a deal that’s going to make sense. If it makes sense for Maurice, he’s going to come back. If it doesn’t make sense, he won’t come back.
“They’re going to go back to the drawing board and hopefully get a deal done.”
Asked if the reported $1.2-1.4 million salary was accurate, Garber insisted “that would perhaps be on the low end.”
Union head coach John Hackworth, for his part, said he's optimistic a deal will get done for the club.
"I can't give you any specifics other than to tell you I think all three parties are working really hard to try to make this work," he said. "We're not there, but I'm an optimist and I'm believing this is going to work out for us.
"It would be a great acquisition for our club and a player I think could be a real difference-maker for us."