“Frankie, That's No Way to Say Goodbye”
Trading or selling Frankie Amaya right now makes very little sense for FC Cincinnati right now.
My colleague wrote yesterday that if Frankie doesn't want to be here, then FCC should cut bait and see what they can get in return for him. I'm not convinced. Amaya means too much to FCC at this moment and the return on him isn't likely to be worth the move.
For one, this roster has been built around Amaya. No other team in MLS is going to be able to offer that to the young milkfielder. With Acosta and Mokotjo starting for the orange and blue, Amaya gets to step in as the ball-winning destroyer. The balance of Amaya as the ball-winner, Mokotjo as the one maintaining possession, and Acosta as the playmaker is a perfect balance that ought to let the absurd amount of money in front of them on offense score goals and process the absurd lack of money behind them on defense.
If for no other reason, lining up a replacement at this point in the season would be sacrificing at least a few weeks of the season to not having that ball-winning presence in the midfielder will hurt for a bit. And with USSF mismanaging the Open Cupin the hopes of killing the tournament off, these first few weeks of the season are more important than ever.
FC Cincinnati has given Amaya more starting time than almost any other team in MLS could offer him. In fact starting and looking good for FC Cincinnati has allowed his stock to rise. Being on an objectively better roster these last two years like LAFC or Philadelphia would not have let Amaya see the number of minutes he needed to be put in the proverbial shop window. And moving to one of those teams now means competing for a job and reducing the number of minutes he'll play this season. If I'm Amaya, and I want to maximize the amount of money I make in the future; minutes = money right now. Catch the eye of a European or Mexican team and see where this sport can take you. Riding the bench on a winning team in MLS isn't usually a recipe for a payday.
Which brings us to the issue of money. Sources inside of FC Cincinnati have indicated to The Post that the Amaya saga is all about money. Amaya seemingly regrets signing his Generation Adidas (GA) contract and would like to be paid more. So all of the"drama" is around him just wanting to be paid more than the contract he has. Ok, what player doesn’t want to be paid more? I'm not seeing this as a reason to ship him off.
It's important to note that Amaya's GA contract means his salary, which is in the neighborhood of $200,000 a year, doesn't count against FC Cincinnati's salary cap. That's an incredible deal if you're FCC, you get an MLS starter for no cap hit. And it's been a great deal for Amaya as it allowed FCC to take a risk on him out of college and allow him a chance to start on the team the last two years. Amaya's GA deal goes through the 2021 season, then there are two team-option years on the end of the deal that if triggered would count his salary against the salary cap.
So, who in MLS is going to pay FC Cincinnati enough GAM to give up a player they built a roster around and someone they could potentially transfer out of the league for a chunk of change? The balance between paying FCC enough to part with Amaya but not wanting to invest too much into the guy who seems to hate his curtrent country is... tricky. And by the way, if Frankie were to be sold this summer to a European team, The FC would get to keep 95% of the transfer fee. An offer of $1 million to Europe and you'd never have to play against him? Why on earth would you make another team in the league better for the same price?
And, that's assuming an MLS team is going to pay us $1 million or more for Frankie AND go to pay him more than his GA deal when at the end of this year? Unlikely. What makes Amaya valuable right now is his payment is baked in an whoever has his contract controls him for three seasons right now. If he wants out of that deal, his value inside of MLS plummets.
Not to mention it's become something of a tradition for players to find ways out of team options when a moving overseas. Not that Amaya's agency is looking to burn a bridge with MLS, but it isn't out of the question he finds a way out. EDIT: Of course right after I hit publish Kaku loses in arbitration. So Amaya is even more stuck than before.
So imagine a scenario where Frankie goes to LAFC for $1 million in GAM. Then after 2021 they negotiate to pay him, what, $100k on top of what his $200k generation Adidas deal would have been? Is he worth that?
Normally there’s absolutely zero incentive to pay a player more than their GA deal is worth, but everyone in our fan base seems to think another MLS team is going to bend over backwards to do it for Amaya.
For a guy who is… above average?
For a guy who was cut from a bad USMNT u-23 team?
So let’s say LAFC pays $1 million GAM for Amaya and Amaya, MLS, and I guess Adidas (nothing makes sense in American soccer) mutually agree to scrap the GA deal, and LAFC pays him $400k right away. He’s really worth that? But wait! MLS is single entity and that means the league is paying that. There's no way the league would agree to arbitrarily agree to increase a player's salary, thus defeating the point of the Generation Adidas contract to begin with. In order to pull this off LAFC (or whoever) would need to pay Amaya out of their pocket. Which means Amaya would be Designated Player. El. Oh. El.
Folks, that's not going to happen.
Again, this is mostly going off of sources saying this is about money. If this is about playing time, well, you're not going to get a better team. The opportunity here in Cincinnati, and the fact that the roster was built around your skill-set, is something no other team can offer in MLS right now.
If this is about Amaya's position, which it's be theorized he wants to be a playmaker #10 but has been slotted into a more defensive midfielder, no other team is going to pay FCC enough money to make it worthwhile shipping him while also taking a risk on him playing in a postilion he hasn't shown competency in. Which MLS team is going to pay ~$800,000 GAM to try Amaya as their starting #10? That would make him one of the most expensive transfers within MLS all to take a gamble? It's like some of you forgot MLS teams are conservative by nature.
Now, potentially, this is simply an attempt for Amaya to play for a contender. The issue with that is, FCC has no incentive to make this deal. Even if Amaya just sits on the bench all year, or FCC maliciously sends him to a hellhole city like Louisville for a season, they're not really "out" anything this year. His salary is nothing to FCC. Sure you'd like to recoup some amount of money for Amaya if you can, but the trade-off is making another team in the league better and not getting a fair deal with a player agitating for a move. If Amaya is looking to make more money in 2022 than he is in 2021, he needs playing time. I'm not saying FCC should develop a reputation of being vindictive to players who don't work out (Heinemann? Adi? Never hear of em!) But I am saying FCC has a lot of leverage here.
Now, all of this is without the knowledge of what's going on in the locker room or knowing exactly how sour the relationship is right now. He could very well be traded by the time I even finish writing this. But if he is moved, this is what I'd like to see FC Cincinnati get in return:
1) My first choice, sell him to a European team for $1 million or more. This would give FC Cincinnati $950,000 to go out and find a replacement. It would give me another former FC Cincinnati player in Europe to follow. And it would help build Cincinnati's reputation for developing and selling talent.
2) If he's not going to Europe, and is going to be in MLS, FCC needs a haul. $800,000+ in GAM, an international roster spot, and I don't know, Ray Hudson. Actually throw in Hudson + any amount of GAM and it's a deal I'd make in a heartbeat.
I'll judge whatever deal gets done by those benchmarks, but really hope we get to see Amaya destroying for the orange and blue in the West End.