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Molino told take new deal... or leave it
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$$ ISSUES

Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kevin Molino has been basically told he is free to accept the new deal offered by his American Major League soccer (MLS) club Minnesota United or go elsewhere.

Molino enjoyed perhaps his best-ever season in the MLS with nine goals and four assists in 1,264 minutes. He kept form in the playoffs, with four goals in three appearances. However, now, he’s out of contract.

Minnesota head coach Adrian Heath, the former Everton midfielder, was quite open in discussing next season with the media recently, after losing the MLS Cup Western Conference final. The ‘Loons’ fell painfully short in the MLS Cup after taking a 2-0 lead against the Seattle Sounders after 65 minutes before the defending champions stormed back for a memorable 3-2 win.

However, there is doubt over two key pieces to Minnesota’s continued success in 2021, since the futures of both Osvaldo Alonso and Molino are still undecided.

Now with their focus fully trained on the off-season and making additions, Minnesota have a number of decisions to make, with negotiations continuing with key players like Alonso, Molino and Luis Amarilla.

Before heading back to AC Milan, forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic topped the list as the highest-paid player in the MLS in 2019, earning US$7.2 million in annual basic compensation playing for the LA Galaxy. Although the fifth-highest paid Minnesota player, Molino’s base salary stood at just US$500,004 per annum, less than one-third of the US$1,750,000 Minnesota paid designated player Darwin Quintero in 2019, before the Colombian moved on to Houston.

Based on his season, Molino expected to be among the best paid in America. But in talking to the media, Heath suggested that Molino was being offered the best deal the club was willing to give him, but was free to move on if he wanted. At age 30, Molino is unlikely to attract a big deal with a European club.

“The offer is there for Kev,” Heath said. “It’s the max deal he can get in America, so we can’t do an awful lot (more). We’re hoping. I get it if he wants to see what’s out there, I understand, but we’re hoping he accepts and decides to come back...If he doesn’t, nothing we can do about that and it’s the player’s prerogative.”

Like Molino, defensive midfielder Alonso (US$650,000.00) is also holding out for more money and has not yet signed a new deal. Alonso, who just turned 35, was restricted to nine starts in 2020 due to injuries. He has made 37 appearances in two seasons with Minnesota after a decade with the Sounders and is regarded as one of the league’s best-ever defensive midfielders. Both player and coach had a conversation about the future and Alonso’s long-term goals whenever he retires. No decision is imminent.

“He needs a little bit of time to take it all on board and we said we’d re-visit it again after the weekend,” Heath said. “We think he can still play. Whether that’s every game, that’ll be something we’ll discuss...We would like to bring him back. We’ll just have to work out how that looks.”