New York City Football Club did not make any moves prior to the close of the summer MLS transfer window earlier this month. The closing of the window however, does not preclude them from signing new players. According to reports, Tiémoko Konaté is being targeted by NYCFC as a late signing.
According to the players agent, Orhan Dumanjic, NYCFC technical director David Lee made a formal offer to both the player his club AC Sparta Prague. “I can confirm that we have received an offer from this club” said Dumanjic in a statement published by Czech news outlet iSport.
Tiémoko Konaté is a 27-year-old Ivorian attacking midfielder/forward with two caps for the national team. The 5’9″ Konaté has primarily played on the right with for Sparta Prague since joining the club 5 years ago. Once an integral part of their match-day squad, he has seen his playing time dwindle following a refusal to train last year, asking instead to be moved to Steaua Bucharest. He was immediately sent to the reserve squad and only brought back in the winter. Fans turned on him as a result which soured the mood on the pitch. His coach ultimately pulled him from the team and he hasn’t seen much playing time since. As a result of this, the player and his agent are looking for playing time elsewhere.
MLS and New York City appear to be a perfect place for Konaté to start fresh, so the offer was welcome news. Despite the offer, it would appear there are still hurdles to be overcome before Tiémoko Konaté lines up alongside David Villa. With the closure of the MLS transfer window the only way for New York City to acquire him now would be if he were out of contract. According to FIFA rules, in order for NYCFC to receive Tiémoko Konaté on loan, Sparta Prague would have to issue an international transfer certificate for the loan which rules out a loan in 2017.
Dumanjic alluded to issues in negotiations between the two clubs. “City wanted Timmy free for the year, he’d have a predetermined transfer option in the contract. But the American club doesn’t know how much that option should be for because they still don’t know their budget for next year.”
Konaté’s contract with Prague is set to expire next season, so naturally the Czech club would like to secure a deal before his contract expiration in order to receive a transfer fee. Prague value Tiémoko Konaté at approximately $677k which would make him a Designated Player in MLS based off his transfer fee alone. In order to avoid having him categorized as a DP, NYCFC would have to apply allocation money to lower his budget charge.
MLS is reportedly weighing an increase in Targeted Allocation Money for the 2018 season which would explain NYCFC’s hesitancy to agree to a deal at this point. Should NYCFC agree to a deal and the required allocation money not be provided next year by MLS, Konaté would occupy a Designated Player spot. With Andrea Pirlo expected to retire following the end of the 2017 season, it wouldn’t be an issue per se. However given New York City’s prior history of DP signings one can assume they would like to have a spot open for a bigger signing.
Given Konaté’s issues at Sparta Prague perhaps his club is willing to release him on a free transfer, which would allow NYCFC to sign him, however the ball remains firmly in their court. With NYCFC having failed to sign their three targets prior to the close of the secondary transfer window they will have to be creative. New York City FC still have an open international roster spot available to them.
NYCFC has not responded to a request for comment at the time of publishing.