Real Salt Lake midfielder Albert Rusnak made waves Tuesday when he told reporters that he’s “happy” to be going on international duty with Slovakia next week so he could get a bit of a break from his struggling club.
“I’m actually happy I’m going to get out of here for a minute because there’s a lot that’s going on off the field,” he said. “And the people to speak to about that are probably the higher up people in the club, and they know what’s going on.”
According to a source, at least part – and possibly all – of the off-field activity Rusnak referred to involves discussions around a new contract for the 23-year-old playmaker.
The source said that RSL and Rusnak have been negotiating a new contract since January. RSL have made Rusnak several offers, but the sides have yet to agree to terms. The source said Rusnak’s comments on Tuesday were likely motivated by general frustration around the talks.
The source also confirmed that Czech club Sparta Prague expressed interest in Rusnak, but that RSL turned them away. Broadcaster Ian Joy reported on Tuesday that Sparta offered RSL €2 million for Rusnak – the source said no official offer was ever tabled, but indicated that RSL would not be interested in selling Rusnak at that price.
Rusnak signed with RSL from Dutch club FC Gronigen in January 2017. According to the MLS Players’ Union, he has a 2018 base salary of $850,000, third-highest on RSL behind little-used forward Alfredo Ortuño and first-year midfielder Damir Kreilach. His current contract runs through the 2020 season.
While Rusnak was clearly frustrated on Tuesday, the sources are confident that that a deal will eventually get done to make him RSL’s highest-paid player. They said it wasn’t yet clear if the new contract would add any years to his current deal, or if it’d just involve a pay raise.
One of the few bright spots in RSL’s rocky start to 2018, Rusnak has three goals and three assists in 11 appearances this year. He had seven goals and 14 assists in 30 regular season matches in 2017.
RSL play at the Seattle Sounders on Saturday (5 pm ET | Full TV & streaming info). Rusnak is expected to be available for the match before he departs for Slovakia’s home friendlies against the Netherlands on May 31 and Morocco on June 4. He is scheduled to miss RSL’s home matches against Houston on May 30 and Seattle on June 2 while on international duty.