Could Vancouver’s Matías Laba be heading back to Argentina?

VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 28: Darlington Nagbe
VANCOUVER, BC - MARCH 28: Darlington Nagbe /

According to reports out of Argentina, Vancouver Whitecaps FC midfielder Matías Laba could be headed back to his home country.

Vancouver Whitecaps fans were not expecting to see Matías Laba in action for a while. The defensive midfielder suffered a knee injury on Saturday against New England, and according to coach Carl Robinson, it didn’t look good.

Now, however, fans have to face the possibility that Saturday’s match may have been Laba’s last appearance in the fabled Rain Jersey. According to Argentinian reporter César Luis Merlo, Racing Club from Argentina have made an offer for the injured midfielder.

According to Merlo, Racing has made a formal offer, and Laba is on board with the move. Interestingly, he also thinks that the injury is a light one, contradicting Robinson’s post-game comments.

As for when the move would happen, the transfer window in Argentina closes on September 17th and reopens in January. So, if the transfer goes ahead, either Racing would be signing a potentially injured player in the next month, or Laba would stay in Vancouver until the end of the season. Presumably, the results of the Laba’s MRI will influence how this all plays out.

Laba has a contract until the end of 2017, with an option for 2018.

VANCOUVER, BC – MARCH 6: Ignacio Piatti
VANCOUVER, BC – MARCH 6: Ignacio Piatti /

Ghazal signing a response?

So, how likely is it that this move would actually happen? And what would be the impact on Vancouver’s midfield?

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The Whitecaps haven’t commented on the reports out of Argentina. But if actions speak louder than words, then maybe we can judge by their actions. Last week, the ‘Caps signed Egyptian midfielder Aly Ghazal from the Chinese League. Ghazal has been described as a similar type of player to Laba, a defensive midfielder who’s strong in the tackle.

The timing of Ghazal’s signing was excellent given Laba’s injury. However, it also means the Whitecaps have a replacement on hand for the longer term.

Laba is probably the most important piece in the Whitecaps midfield. He’s also, however, a bit of a luxury. He’s making $885,000 this year, occupying a Designated Player position, and taking up an international roster spot. That’s a lot to spend on a defensive midfielder, given Vancouver’s struggles in the creative half of midfield. Back when the MLS 2017 salaries were released, I identified Laba as one of the top 3 over-paid Whitecaps players.

A departure for Laba, however painful it would be, could make sense for the ‘Caps. And as we saw with the Kekuta Manneh for Tony Tchani trade, Robinson doesn’t shy away from trading or selling fan favourites.

Next: Vancouver Whitecaps draw a blank in New England

Of course, it’s all speculation at this point. But a Vancouver Whitecaps midfield without Matías Laba would be a strange place.