KANSAS CITY, Mo. – When the rumors about Uri Rosell moving back across the Atlantic first surfaced in mid-May, Sporting Kansas City said they had no interest in selling their record-breaking Spanish defensive midfielder.
Obviously, something changed. Rosell's transfer to Sporting Clube De Portugal was announced Tuesday, with the Lisbon-based club paying an undisclosed fee for the 21-year-old.
“We just decided at the end it was the best thing for everybody,” manager Peter Vermes told reporters Tuesday, adding that the move was initiated by Sporting CP and not by Rosell. “It's not just for us. It's for us and the player. It's a decision we made as an organization that was good for both sides, and it works out. Uri's been great for us, and now it's time to move on to the next step.”
The Portuguese club first made its interest in Rosell known several weeks before the transfer rumors first surfaced, Vermes said.
“There's always going to be discussion,” he said. “A lot of times, it's not worth talking about. This one just progressed, and they kept coming back, and at the end it was the right deal to do.”
Rosell, a product of FC Barcelona's academy, joined Sporting KC in mid-2012 and appeared in 43 league matches with two goals. In a 3-0 away rout of Montreal last month, he completed 160 of 166 passes – both league records since Opta tracking began in 2011.
His is the second high-profile midseason departure in as many years for Sporting KC, who sold forward Kei Kamara to England's Middlesbrough in mid-2013. A number of fans questioned the timing of the move, but Sporting went on to win MLS Cup.
“I don't know anybody that has left the club and we've gone down,” Vermes said. “Every year, we've evolved stronger and stronger. So it's the nature of the business that we're in. We're also in a place where at times you can't compete with foreign clubs, because of the kind of dynamics they have in regards to finances.
“We have a salary cap. They don't. So certain situations dictate sometimes what you have to do, but we've always managed to do the right thing, especially for the long term of our organization. As much as we liked Uri, and he liked it here, and he fit into our team well, we've got other guys here who can play there and will do a good job for us.”
Vermes, who is also Sporting's technical director, did not specify how the proceeds from Rosell's sale would be spent but reiterated his commitment to looking to improve his club.
“Like always, every window, we try to make decisions based on what we need,” he said. “That's what we'll do in this window as well.”
Last summer, Sporting evinced an interest in Honduran midfielder Jorge Claros – and Roger Espinoza's name has also surfaced recently, a year and a half after he departed Kansas City for English side Wigan Athletic.
“Roger is still our – we have the rights to the player,” Vermes said. “If it ever becomes an opportunity, we'll have to do with what's ahead, but as of right now there's nothing there. He's still under contract for another year with his current team.”
Steve Brisendine covers Sporting Kansas City for MLSsoccer.com.