VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps loaned Venezuelan striker Anthony Blondell to the Chilean Primera División side Huachipato FC for the 2019 season. The Chilean club has an option to make the deal permanent at the end of the season.
“This loan will allow Anthony to grow as a player,” Whitecaps head coach Marc Dos Santos said when the loan was announced Monday. “We will follow Anthony’s progression, and at the end of the year we anticipate he will be better positioned for future success.
“The timing of the loan is right not only for Anthony, but also for where we are as a club, as we are looking to add two additional forwards to the roster.”
One of those strikers was rumored to be Icelandic forward Kolbeinn Sigthórsson, who had been heavily linked with the club after French media reported a deal was imminent. Ultimately, that deal fell through, and there were concerns over Sightórsson’s off-field behavior.
Whitecaps have been busy in other areas. Vancouver added three international players — defensive midfielder Jon Erice, as well as wingers Lass Bangoura and Lucas Venuto — using Targeted Allocation Money. And reports from abroad indicate the Whitecaps could add more players as early as this week.
South Korean midfielder Hwang In-Beom is one of those players. The 20-year-old midfielder from the South Korean K-League 2 club Daejeon Citizens is one of the most sought after and exciting prospects in Asia at the moment, dubbed the Korean Iniesta. Speaking to the Vancouver-based television station CTV on Monday, Whitecaps president Bob Lenarduzzi suggested the deal was almost done.
— ᴅʀᴀʏ 🌊 (@designillect) January 27, 2019
The midfielder has scored seven goals and five assists in 33 K-League 2 games this season. Hwang caught the interest of Bundesliga 2 side VfL Bochum, but the German club ultimately did not bid for the player.
Hwang is not the only player the Whitecaps are strongly linked with. Reports from Tunisia say that the Caps will signed 21-year-old Tunisian centerback Jasser Khemiri from Stade Tunisien. According to the report, the Whitecaps will pay Stade Tunisien $400,000 and 10 percent of any future transfer fee. Khemiri reportedly signed a three-year contract that will pay him $150,000 the first year, $180,000 the second and $200,000 in the third year.
Khemiri is not the only defender on the Whitecaps’ radar. Argentine media reported Monday the Whitecaps signed 25-year-old C.A. Colon defender Erik Godoy on a loan-to-buy deal.
#Colón || Erik Godoy seguirá su carrera en el Vancouver Whitecaps de la #MLS 🇺🇸. En principio sería un préstamo con opción de compra aunque la dirigencia sabalera busca cerrar una venta. pic.twitter.com/7yvGr5Qx9n
— Ahora Colón (@AhoraColon) January 29, 2019
Furthermore, going the other way from Blondell’s new club Huachipato could be Canadian-Chilean right back Juan Córdova. Born in Chile, Córdova holds a Canadian passport thanks to his Canadian-Chilean father, and has in the past he turned out for Canada’s U-23 national team.
Those three transfers, together with the completed deal for Derek Cornelius, would likely complete the Caps’ backline. But what about new strikers?
The deal for Blondell means the Whitecaps have only one striker on the squad at the moment — 19-year-old Theo Bair. But help could be on the way very soon.
The Whitecaps have been linked with Iranian sensation Sardar Azmoun, who currently plays in Russia for Rubin Kazan. The 24-year-old would be a marquee signing, but Pro Soccer USA has learned from Russian and Iranian sources that a transfer would be difficult.
Rubin asked for between $12 million and $15 million for the Iranian forward. Furthermore, soccer players in Russia only pay the country’s flat income tax rate of 13 percent on their salaries. On top of that, Azmoun has been linked with a move to Russian giants Zenit and Belgium side RSC Anderlecht.