Orlando City striker Daryl Dike made his USMNT debut last night and today he’s off to another new adventure. The club announced today that Dike is going on a short-term loan to English Championship (second division) side Barnsley F.C. The Lions retain a conditional right to recall on Dike.
Barnsley’s release states there’s an option to buy in the loan deal, but Julia Poe of the Orlando Sentinel reported that a league source indicated to her that the price tag is high — $20 million for 80% of his rights. Orlando would retain 20% of any sale by Barnsley, so if the English side did decide to go all-in on Dike, the Lions would reap a substantial financial windfall.
“Daryl had a tremendous rookie season with us here in Orlando, one that helped lead our club to the postseason and, on a personal level, be rewarded with multiple call-ups to the U.S. Men’s National Team,” Orlando City Executive Vice President of Soccer Operations Luiz Muzzi said in a club press release. “We believe this opportunity with Barnsley will present another step in his career, to not only develop in a new footballing environment, but to challenge himself in a new country and we’re excited for him to bring those learnings back to us here in Orlando.”
“Orlando has helped me so much in my career in such a short time, and working together to provide this opportunity for me is just another example of that,” Dike said in the release. “I’m very grateful to have a deal that will be beneficial for both myself and the club. I’m excited to continue my development and keep up my fitness while with Barnsley and look forward to bringing what I learn back to Orlando to continue our success here in MLS.”
Dike had a tremendous rookie season for Orlando, appearing in 17 matches (15 starts) and scoring eight goals — good for second most on the club. He added four assists, finishing fourth on the team in that category. He completed 71% of his passes.
Barnsley’s release also made it seem pretty clear this is a short-term thing.
“It has been well documented that Valérien wanted to strengthen his forward line and in the short-term, this addition goes someway to accomplish that.
“I must thank the group at Orlando City for allowing Daryl to join us and I have no doubt that he will be a success at Oakwell.”
What it Means for Orlando City
Barnsley isn’t very likely to shell out $20 million to make Dike’s loan permanent, even if he performs well while on loan. However, let’s say everything goes great and it happens. That’s an incredible financial windfall for Orlando City and easily a club transfer record. Orlando City got reportedly just north of $2.3 million for Cyle Larin from Besiktas. So, if Barnsley held a GoFundMe and made the purchase, Luiz Muzzi would have a nice chunk of change to go find a Designated Player to play up top.
Not only that, but if Barnsley were to sell him onward to another club, the Lions would reap 20% of that transaction as well. There are no guarantees in life, but this loan deal means that the loan will either indeed be for only the short term or the Lions will gain a king’s ransom in return.
Dike, meanwhile, will get to stay in match shape during the off-season and continue to learn the nuances of becoming a professional footballer. He’ll gain valuable experience and add some new tricks to his bag, making him an even more dangerous player when he returns to the City Beautiful. A possible downside is that Dike came out of college and has been going almost non-stop since the MLS is Back Tournament, which could lead to a player hitting the proverbial wall and create a sophomore slump. But clearly Orlando City isn’t concerned about that, nor should it be.
Barnsley’s season runs through May 8 when the Reds play Norwich City. If Dike stays through the end of the Championship season, he’d miss just over a month of the MLS season — assuming the league and MLSPA come to terms over the collective bargaining agreement. But that right of recall means Orlando could get him back for the start of the season if need be, which is important when considering that the Lions have only veteran Tesho Akindele, unproven Matheus Aias, and rookie Derek Dodson while Dike is away, unless another signing is made.
The likeliest scenario is that Dike gets some extra games and returns when Orlando needs him. Barnsley is currently 12th in the Championship on 36 points, which is 14 points adrift from a promotion slot and 13 points above relegation at the moment. If the Reds are safe from relegation by the end of March but seem unlikely to challenge for promotion, it’s reasonable to assume Dike would come back for the start of the MLS season.