By IVES GALARCEP
Sporting Kansas City are not just riding high on the MLS playing field, with five straight shutouts and a run that has propelled them into first place in the Eastern Conference. They are also seeing one of their investments gain considerable value by the day.
Kei Kamara’s successful loan stint with English Premier League side Norwich City has not only made it a very real possibility that Norwich will trigger the purchase option on Kamara, it has also helped Kamara garner attention from several teams in Europe.
Recent reports have suggested that Norwich City have left Sporting KC in limbo because of a delay in deciding on whether to buy Kamara’s rights outright, but the reality of the situation is that Kamara’s successful stint in the EPL has impressed several clubs, including teams in the English Premier Leagues, who have begun to call inquiring about his services.
“If he’s going to come back obviously we’ll welcome him with open arms, he’s part of our club, but let’s be honest, every since he’s gotten fit (at Norwich City) he’s started every game and they’ve had some success with them on the field,” Sporting KC head coach Peter Vermes told SBI on Wednesday night. “What has really come of it, and they don’t have to make a decision until May, but what’s really come of it is we have two other teams in the EPL have reached out to us and the league, and we have a few other teams from France.
“He’s now in an envious position because I think he’s going to have a lot of suitors come here in a short period of time come the summer window.”
Norwich City have a purchase option as part of Kamara’s loan, and have until early May (some reports suggest May 6th) to trigger the full transfer. So why hasn’t the team made a move to trigger their option yet? The Canaries are currently just four points clear of the relegation zone (with Wigan having a game in hand on Norwich City).
A poorly-timed slump could see the club relegated, so it makes sense if Norwich City isn’t in a rush to commit to Kamara until it the team has a better foothold in the standings. Sporting Kansas City is already weighing other options in case Norwich City backs out, or if Kamara decides he does not want to stay with Norwich City.
“(Norwich City) have an option, but if they slow up the process it’s a simple one,” Vermes said. “We have other suitors so we can go that way pretty quickly. They’re going to have to make some decisions, and we’re evaluating the other interest that has come in.
“We signed Kei to an extension so it’s not like we’re trying to hurry it up because we can still have him for the rest of the year, Vermes said. “It’s not the summer window,” Vermes said. “We did that on purpose because we wanted to make sure that they weren’t trying to stretch us out while we’re trying to do other deals.”
In short, even if Norwich chooses not to buy Kamara outright, or if Kamara decides he doesn’t want to stay at Norwich, Kamara will have a number of European suitors ready to seal a transfer move this summer. In the meantime, Kamara could return to Sporting KC in early May and play with the team until a transfer is completed.
Sporting KC is prepared for either contingency. If he stays for the remainder of the season, the Sporting will become even that much more dangerous and an even stronger MLS Cup contender. If Norwich buys him, or if the team sells him this summer, they will have the resources to bolster their already-potent roster even further before the playoffs.
“We have prepared for this situation,” Vermes said. “We feel like we have players who are good enough to attract strong interest from abroad and we like having players who have that ambition to play in bigger leagues. We know this is a business and it is our job to make sure we make the most out of the quality we have on our team.”