Real Salt Lake have sold Jefferson Savarino and added Jeizon Ramirez. The like-for-like swap, while commendable, will damage RSL in 2020.
Jefferson Savarino was one of Major League Soccer’s best young players and was one of the best-developed players in Real Salt Lake history. At some point, however, he was always going to move to a different league to further his career. That time has now come.
This week, it was confirmed that Savarino will transfer to Brazilian side Atletico Mineiro. The fee is a reported $2 million, which is a club-record for Real Salt Lake, and shows the value in developing and selling on young players, something that MLS more generally is beginning to cotton onto.
Savarino leaves RSL with 22 goals and 22 assists in 88 appearances. The impact he had was immense. He will leave the club with plenty of great memories and on good terms with the supporters.
The departure of the Venezuelan right-winger clearly leaves a void in RSL’s attack. He was an integral part of the squad and was a dangerous option off the flank. But while his exit seemed disastrous for an RSL team that has not enjoyed the most productive offseason thus far, it did not take long for a replacement to arrive.
Fellow countrymen Jeizon Ramirez was announced as a Young Designated Player signing just earlier the same day. At 18, Ramirez joins RSL from Deportivo Tachira in Venezuela. He made 50 appearances for the club with five goals and eight assists. Ramirez primarily plays on the right-wing, the exact same position as Savarino.
There is no doubt that Ramirez is going to be the next player that RSL try and develop into a quality player. He has a lot of potential.
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However, it is hard to see him having an instant impact on the club that matches what Savarino was able to do. But RSL are looking towards the future with the signing, which should be commended.
Salt Lake likely won’t be able to replace Savarino in the near future. He was a generational talent and it may take Ramirez a few seasons to produce the same type of impact. He has had experience playing in his native country of Venezuela in the top division and is following a similar path to that of Savarino’s, but it is naive to expect a teenager to move to a new team and country and produce in the manner that a much more experienced Savarino was.
The club will now have to turn to its current crop of players which may now include the introduction of MLS veteran Justin Meram into the side. Players like Albert Rusnak and Corey Baird will be asked to do more, especially the latter who was a little underwhelming last year.
Savarino was a playmaker, who, at times, could singlehandedly dictate the outcome of matches. This season is going to be a challenge for RSL and one in which they need to rally together to return to the playoffs. But with no Savarino, that will not be easy.