After reports out of South America surfaced that Argentina’s Club Atlético Independiente set its sights on Orlando City goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, The Mane Land has learned that the Lions have turned down efforts to get the Peruvian international to Avellaneda.
Independiente, which just lost Uruguayan goalkeeper Martín Campaña, contacted Orlando City through Gallese’s representation to inquire whether the Lions were interested in sending El Pulpo out on loan. As Gallese is a starter who has performed well and could finish among Major League Soccer’s best goalkeepers this year, the Lions were understandably not eager to part with the Octopus. When word of the fee Independiente was willing to pay to make a transfer happen was relayed, the amount was insufficient and Orlando City was not interested.
Before Orlando City fans breathe a big sigh of relief, that is not to say that Independiente couldn’t come back with a stronger offer that ultimately lands Gallese in Argentina. However, that seems unlikely. Independiente lost Campaña — and other players — over unpaid salaries. The pandemic has hit Argentine soccer hard, and Independiente has had financial issues, including struggling to make owed transfer payments to Club America in Mexico for Cecilio Dominguez — who became Austin FC’s first Designated Player just yesterday. From the Buenos Aires Times story linked in the previous sentence:
The slow bleed of funds has logically turned into a haemorrhage with the suspension of activities, and right now it appears unclear whether Independiente will be able to even field a competitive team in the upcoming Liga Profesional, let alone challenge for honours.
What it Means for Orlando City
Obviously it’s good that Gallese remains a Lion for now, although it would be wise to expect more teams to show interest in El Pulpo, who has performed well here and on the international stage with Peru. When you sign good players, that comes with the territory. And at 30 years old, Gallese is very much in his prime as a goalkeeper.
Gallese is the best goalkeeper the Lions have had since joining MLS. It’s a safe bet that without upgrading in the off-season, Orlando City would not have advanced to the MLS is Back Tournament final against Portland. He came up particularly large against New York City FC and LAFC on the run to the final and he kept the Lions in the match against Portland with some big saves on Diego Valeri in the second half.
It’s no surprise that Orlando City turned down a request for a Gallese loan. Teams don’t just loan out a starter — especially one of Gallese’s quality — unless they are in dire need of saving money. Orlando City should be fine in that respect, and in better shape than Independiente.
The Lions should be willing to listen to offers for any player, but in no hurry to make any kind of deal unless they think they can come out ahead. That seems to be Orlando City’s approach to Independiente’s interest in Gallese at this point and there has been no indication that Gallese is looking for a move already. In fact, any deal Orlando City makes with Independiente should not be one that requires waiting for payment, as the Argentine club hasn’t exactly been timely with its financial obligations recently. If Orlando City gets an offer it feel it must accept for Gallese — or any other player — it must be careful in any dealings with clubs that have struggled to make payments.
For now, El Pulpo remains in purple. Hopefully he’ll stay here for quite a while.
We will continue to monitor this story for further developments.