VANCOUVER, B.C. – The Mustapha Jarju experiment in Vancouver is over, almost before it even began.
“I have a specific idea of how I want to play and Jarju doesn’t fit into that plan,” Whitecaps head coach Martin Rennie told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Friday shortly after the player’s contract was bought out. “He’s at a stage where he needs to be playing and I can’t guarantee that.”
It was long thought among many observers that Jarju would be jettisoned by the Whitecaps upon Rennie’s arrival, but as time ticked on and the club gave reassurances the Gambian would be given another chance to demonstrate his ability, there was a level of ambiguity about the situation.
But it was always hard to believe that a coach who reportedly had plenty of offers on the table before choosing Vancouver would agree to carry the albatross of a Designated Player who, at times, seemed to struggle to make the matchday squad, let alone the starting XI during his brief spell with the club.
“I had a pretty good idea it wasn’t going to work out,” Rennie said, speaking of his evaluation of Jarju following his postseason evaluation camp. “I didn’t rush into making a decision then. I took some time to think about it, but he didn’t fit into my plans going forward.”
So why did it take so long for the club to come to an official agreement with Jarju?
“I think we did this in plenty of time,” Rennie said. “Preseason is next week and the season is still months away.”
Jarju, Major League Soccer’s first African Designated Player, signed with Vancouver on July 11. He played 10 matches during his spell, starting five, but didn’t feature at all in three of the club’s final four matches. The striker failed to score a single goal during his 450 minutes on the pitch and never seemed to capture the form that saw him score 18 goals in 33 games during his final season in the Belgian second division with RAEC Mons.
Davies option not renewed
Philippe Davies also parted ways with the club on Friday, as the ‘Caps opted not to renew the 21-year-old’s contract. The Longueil, Quebec, native was the lone outfield member of the MLS squad to never see a minute of action on the pitch in 2011.
Davies was with the club since 2007, coming up through the residency program before making his senior professional debut with the Whitecaps at division two level in 2009.
“He's a guy who needs to be playing,” Rennie said of the decision. “I didn't see him starting a lot of games or getting a lot of minutes for us.”
The club will have the right of first refusal should another MLS team offer Davies a contract.
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.