That Rodriguez was moved in itself wasn't necessarily a surprise. The 20-year-old winger was considered a likely candidate to be sold from the moment he arrived at LAFC given his age and high skill level as an up-and-coming star for the Uruguayan national team. Rather, it was the destination that raised some eyebrows, as Almeria are currently in Spain's second division and doesn't have the flashy name value as many of the clubs that had been linked with him in the past.
LAFC general manager John Thorrington addressed all of that in an interview on the Inside LAFC Podcast with host Max Bretos, saying that he actually thinks Almeria is an ideal spot for Rodriguez at this point in his career as they're in the heat of a push for promotion to Spain's top flight La Liga. Getting thrown right into the middle of a promotion battle, Thorrington said, is exactly the type of setting that can provide invaluable experience for a player with Rodriguez's ultimate aspirations.
"For us, as we have said consistently, we are always looking for the right solutions for our players and we take everything on a case by case basis," Thorrington told Bretos. "There was a lot of interest in loan opportunities and purchase opportunities for our players and we sit down and we discuss with each player. Sometimes it makes sense and sometimes it doesn't. In this case, we thought it's a great opportunity for Brian to get some games, to go and play. Those promotion-chasing campaigns are just great experience for a player. We know it's a club that really likes Brian and we think will set him up for success and we'll see how it goes.
"I certainly think Brian has the potential to be a top, top player in Europe. And so this made sense, and we were grateful we could conclude that deal right at the deadline for Brian. We're still in touch, he's happy with how things have gone, he's made the bench already and we're hopeful this weekend he'll start to play a part and hopefully gain promotion."
Thorrington also said the deal made sense for both sides when you take into account the uncertainties with the market at the moment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. While Thorrington said that in a normal world he likely would have held out to sell Rodriguez outright, this loan deal wound up being the most sensible option given the circumstances. Rodriguez's loan contains a purchase clause that could keep him with Almeria if certain performance thresholds are met.
On Brian Rodriguez's loan from LAFC to Spanish club UD Almeria:— Tom Bogert (@tombogert) February 4, 2021
The purchase clause will be between $11-19 million, depending on escalators in the agreement, per sources. Not sure what those incentives are or which end is more likely IF the loan is made permanent.
"If you were to ask me a year ago would we have been open to Brian Rodriguez going on a loan, I probably would have said no, that doesn't make sense, we're waiting to sell him," Thorrington said. "But you have to adapt. And as anybody will tell you, this market right now is deflated to the point where you need to find some creative solutions. The fact that we were able to get to an economic deal that made sense for us, made sense for Brian, made sense for Almería — we were happy to adapt and execute."