With the pre-season underway and the January transfer window open across the globe, the rumors are in full swing. Today brings us a rumor from German magazine Bild that Hamburger SV left back Tim Leibold has been linked with Sporting Kansas City.
The report by Kai-Uwa Hesse and Babak Milan is behind a paywall, but they exist several Tweets and more stories fleshing out the details, including that of Transfermarkt’s usually reliable Manuel Veth. It’s the only way to say it’s Sporting KC, while all other sources just say “MLS.”
Sources confirm Bild’s initial report that #HSV left back Tim Leibold is in talks with #SportingKC.
Leibold recently missed practice to facilitate the move, but the deal isn’t 100% done yet. The 29-year-old has struggled for playing time this season. @Transfermarkt pic.twitter.com/bFyypEDJYi
— Manuel Veth (@ManuelVeth) January 8, 2023
Those are two sources, more than typical of these early rumors which usually just re-quote the initial source.
According to Google Translate, other sources say the move is for $2 million over three seasons (they use dollar signs, but it could be Euros according to this report, which is just over $2.1 million in USD). That would come down to about $700,000 per season. Liebold is under contract until the summer, but the report is that Hamburger plan to let him go, which will provide some relief to the budget, and he would leave on a free transfer.
Additionally, an earlier Bild report said that Liebold wants to leave to get more playing time elsewhere as he is out of favor with the current coach. He even missed training, which is speculated to be due to the easier move.
“Timi had to deal with private matters today. That’s why he wasn’t there. We’ve always said we’ll talk in time,” Hamburger head coach Tim Walter said.
Liebold also plays with Sonny Kittel, who was linked to Kansas City last year when they were looking for help with Gadi Kind out with an injury.
How does that make sense for Sporting KC?
At first glance it doesn’t make sense. SKC already have two left backs in Ben Sweat and Logan Ndenbe. The teams actually need centre-backs as they only have three signed for two spots, although Peter Vermes has said that new defensive midfielder Nemanja Radoja can also play CB.
Vermeš about Radoja: “He knows [#6] position from a tactical perspective at a really good level. He has very good physical qualities in the position… he has the bite you need in that part of the field. He can also play as a central defender.” #SportingKC
— Chad Smith (@PlayFor90) January 7, 2023
There is also a problem that we have mentioned several times, which is that Sporting KC has no place on the international list (green cards pending, trade or departure of players) and they are precariously low on places in the senior squad.
I will emphasize that this story about Liebold is a rumor. It can be an agent or someone else trying to find a job for their client. But for the purposes of this exercise, let’s explore how such a move would be possible.
First, the team could keep everyone and move other players around because you don’t need three left backs. Ben Sweat has experience playing center back, although he was primarily in the back three as an LCB. Besides Radoja being able to play CB, it’s possible that Uri Rosell can also play there (like Ilie was forced to in 2021). This option seems like the absolute worst plan if Kansas City plans to play with the three CBs they signed (though second-rounder Chris Rindov looms, but it’s been a decade since a second-rounder made the first team).
Another option could be that someone is on the move. The entire U-22 Initiative seems to have been invented to encourage teams to buy young players, develop them and sell them. Maybe the team has an offer for Logan Ndenbe (pure speculation, just throwing out hypotheses). For that matter, a trade for Sweat may be in the works for a team in need of a veteran LB (I won’t pretend to understand the depth charts of the entire MLS league).
The last option that comes to mind is that this is not real. There are probably other options that I’m not thinking about, write them in the comments.
More about Leibold
The left-footed 29-year-old left-back lost his starting job at Hamburger through injury. In the 2019-20 season. he was a star making 34 appearances in league games, scoring once and adding an incredible 16 assists from full-back. In 2021, he returned to earth with four goals and four assists in 29 appearances before suffering a serious injury. Since then, he has made just a total of 18 appearances in all competitions over the last two seasons (just four this year).
Injury history is always a bit of a concern. Transfermarkt lists several injuries that always make you wonder if a player is injury prone. None of them are very long-term aside from the aforementioned knee injury and pelvic injury in 2016-17.
Before coming to Hamburger Liebold played for FC Nuremburg, Stuttgart II and Freiberg. In 2019, it was sold to Hamburger for 1.80 million euros.
Here are some highlights before his move to HSV. A lot of assists, a few goals and a few combined goals. Typical high end stuff.
This is literally called the silly season, don’t get too invested in one rumor. However, with two sources, and both of higher integrity, you can easily get a player that will make your team better when you can. If SKC doesn’t have a trade partner or is working on a transfer for one of the guys Liebold would trade, then maybe they would use a buyout on Sweat (although no offense to Uri Rosell, he should be a player bought out this offseason).
What do you think about this? Interested? It’s hard to invest when CB is on everyone’s mind, but I look forward to hearing your thoughts.