Orlando City officials say striker Cyle Larin is still under contract and it will take action after Besiktas JK posted pictures of Larin going through a physical exam during transfer negotiations.
Larin has long sought a transfer to Europe, but Orlando City countered it will not make a move unless it’s financially beneficial for both the club and Larin. The striker has been rumored to be moving to Besiktas, but Orlando City argues two tweets referring to Larin’s medical exams with the Turkish side were premature and not approved by the club that owns the Canadian’s rights.
“Cyle is under contract until 2019. He is not a free agent and we will take action against Besiktas for announcing this today,” Orlando City spokesman Diogo Kotscho told ProSoccerUSA.com Saturday.
— Beşiktaş JK (@Besiktas) January 13, 2018
The Besiktas tweet in Turkish says transfer negotiations have begun with Larin and he was evaluated by Acibadem Sports, a FIFA approved medical center. The center then tweeted out Besiktas’ new transfer went through his medical exam, further suggesting a deal to send Larin to Turkey had been worked out.
— ACIBADEM SPORTS (@ACIBADEMSPORTS) January 13, 2018
Larin and his agent did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In the past, MLS players have argued they were unaware of their player or club option years when they sought transfers to new clubs and FIFA sided with them, allowing the transfers to go through.
To avoid any chance of losing Larin before his contract expired, Orlando City officials said Larin signed an agreement in early 2017 stating he was aware he had two club option years for 2018 and 2019 and they were valid.
It is unclear whether Besiktas JK is aware of Larin’s two club option years remaining on his contract.
Orlando City planned to contact Besiktas about Larin’s contract status. Besiktas could then start negotiations with the Lions to proceed with the transfer. If Besiktas declines to acknowledge Larin is under contract with the Lions, then Orlando City could appeal directly to FIFA.
Orlando City has hired attorney Marcos Motta, who handled Neymar’s transfer negotiations and Paolo Guerrero’s doping case.
Larin, 22, has publicly pushed for a transfer since the conclusion of the 2017 season.
“I think I’m at the right place to go play in Europe and it’s the right time,” Larin said in an exclusive interview ProSoccerUSA.com editor Alicia DelGallo in October. “I think I’ll benefit. I have personal goals and dreams and I want to go to Europe and play. I think it’s the right time.”
During the interview, Larin suggested his contract was ending in 2017.
“I think I’m ready to challenge myself and play at the highest possible level I can,” Larin said. “My contract is ending this season, and I think it’s the right time. I love playing for Orlando. MLS and Orlando have given me a lot, and in the three years I’ve been here, I love playing and I love the fans, but I think to reach my goals it’s necessary to play at the highest level possible with the best players.”
The public remarks in October by the 2015 MLS Rookie of the Year surprised Orlando City officials.