FRISCO, Texas – FC Dallas technical director Fernando Clavijo didn’t mince words about Fabian Castillo’s departure for Turkish Super Lig club Trabzonspor during halftime of Thursday’s CONCACAF Champions League match vs. Real Esteli.
Clavijo met with reporters for the entirety of halftime to lay out precisely how one of the oddest yet most fascinating transfers of the year came about.
He said it started with a decision on Castillo’s part that left the team in the dark.
“Fabian left without permission,” Clavijo said, referencing July 21, the day after the club’s US Open Cup win in Houston, where Castillo scored the game-winning goal. The next day, he skipped out on the next day's training and the team’s flight to Colorado ahead of a weekend match vs. the Rapids.
“Always our focus was to make sure we looked at the team. The team is bigger than anyone else. We’re trying to get the team going in the right direction and not to cause any issues. But the issue was there and we needed to address it.”
From that point, Clavijo said he was in a similar situation to many fans: seeing pictures on Twitter of Castillo being greeted in Turkey and not being completely in the know as to what was going on.
But once it was made clear to Clavijo through Castillo’s agent that he no longer wanted to be in Frisco, FCD's TD had no choice but to acquiesce to his winger’s change of heart.
“We could have kept delaying everything else, but I think that would have been not a good situation for the club,” Clavijo said. “We deal with people that want to be here.”
The saga would not end quickly, however. After days of drama that included reports of Trabzonspor not being able to fork over the proper amount of cash to seal the deal, the club mandated Castillo return to training, with the club issuing a statement that the deal was off.
But Castillo did not reappear in Texas, once again leaving FC Dallas in the dark.
“He didn’t want to come back,” Clavijo said. “He left without permission and never gave us an opportunity to bring him back. Our conversation was always with the club, not Fabian. With the club and his agent.”
Clavijo confessed to feeling disappointment and frustration regarding the situation that brought about the unique transaction – a loan to Trabzonspor for the remainder of 2016, with the Turkish club holding an option to buy Castillo outright in January. He said he understands the nature of players looking for new challenges in their career, even stating that he hopes Castillo achieves what he's seeking.
But there's inevitably a human element involved in losing a player he spent so much time with from the moment Castillo arrived in Frisco from Colombia at 18 years of age.
“I always believe that there has to be some loyalty, as a former player,” Clavijo said. “I think everything that happened could have happened the same way, but you could deal in a different way. It was not. I am hurt, of course, because we dedicated a lot of time [to him].”
Clavijo said he reminded Castillo of the ongoing political unrest in Turkey, questioning whether the turbulence in the country is a good fit for his family. But Castillo was dead set on the move.
“He didn’t care,” Clavijo said. “He thought it was the right time for him to go, and we wish him well.”
Clavijo said his original plan was always to sell Castillo after the season, which would have given Castillo what he desired while also putting FC Dallas in a position to compete on multiple fronts -- MLS, US Open Cup, CCL -- through the rest of the year.
Even after this saga, there is still the chance Castillo returns to Frisco, and Clavijo said he would be welcomed with open arms. If Trabzonspor don’t meet their end of the agreement come 2017, Castillo will remain on FCD's books. But his focus is elsewhere now that the soap opera is in the rearview mirror.
“We have something bigger right now than Fabian,” Clavijo said. “We’re trying to win games as much as we can, and win championships.”