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Giancarlo Gonzalez enjoyed a standout World Cup for Costa Rica, and generated plenty of transfer interest, and that interest has produced a dream move for the Columbus Crew standout.
Costa Rican outlet Al Dia is reporting that Gonzalez has been sold to Serie A side Palermo, and has signed a four-year contract. There were no details on a transfer figure for Gonzalez, but Crew head coach Gregg Berhalter addressed Gonzalez’s status before Saturday night’s match against the Houston Dynamo.
“Giancarlo is en route to Italy to finalize negotiations with Palermo,” Berhalter said. “This was one of the first clubs that came in for him, and this was directly after the World Cup. So when you talk about the amount of time it takes to get a deal done, here we are how many weeks later, and it’s finally come to fruition.
According to a report by the Columbus Dispatch, the transfer fee is the largest for a defender in MLS history. Berhalter didn’t disclose the amount but did state that the notion that it was the largest sale for a defender was “pretty accurate.”
“This is something that you don’t pass up, bar none,” Berhalter said. “When this type of offer comes around, you take it. For us, it’s a game-changer.”
In terms of it being a game-changer, Berhalter outlined that the amount of money and resources earned in the deal would benefit the club in numerous ways, including the club’s youth academy and the team’s scouting department.
The youth academy has already produced the likes of starter Wil Trapp and contributers Ben Speas, and Chad Barson, while the scouting department was able to find a player of Gonzalez’s caliber for what Berhalter described as a “small fee.”
In addition, Berhalter believes that having a soccer environment where players can improve themselves and their value is something that will make the Crew more attractive to potential transfers or free agents.
“What this (transfer) does is it accelerates it now because we have these funds that we can use on a faster level.,” Berhalter explained about the team’s long term plans. “I think its very positive.”
Gonzalez joined the Crew before the 2014 season, arriving from Norwegian club Valerenga. He settled in quickly as one of the better central defenders in MLS, and showed outstanding form at the World Cup during Costa Rica’s surprising run to the quarterfinals.
Gonzalez’s departure will be a big blow to the Crew’s push for a playoff spot in the MLS Eastern Conference, but the transfer offer from Palermo must have been sizable in order for the Crew to let Gonzalez leave in his first season with the club.
Berhalter indicated that reserve defender Tyson Wahl would be capable of filling in along the back line, and that once Hector Jimenez returned to full fitness, Eric Gehrig could shift back to central defense.
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