Apparently Eric Hassli wants out.
Thatís the rumour, anyway Ė reported by Soccer by Ives, who seems to have had his red Batphone re-installed in the TFC front office. So, itís probably true that Hassli asked to be moved.
Itís even possible that TFC leaked the request itself to allow it to stay ahead of the story.
Itís widely thought that the tail wags the dog at TFC and this is a perfect opportunity for Kevin Payne to make it known that the culture is changing. Heís in charge, he is saying, and a player like Hassli canít boss them around.
The truth is that Hassli doesnít have a lot of power here. MLS doesnít allow a lot of movement and when he agreed the contract extension he gave up control of where he can play in 2013. If he wants to move from TFC, TFC needs to give him permission. Sure, he can pout and play terrible, but thatís not a great way to get another contract and he doesnít want to retire.
So, if he wants to play in 2014 and beyond, for a wage that is close to what he gets now, then he needs to play well in 2013. Heís hardly the first player to have to suck it up and play for a club heís not fully invested in.
TFC could also accommodate him, of course. But, the power is in their hands.
There is a bit of a misunderstanding about the Hassli situation. It has been incorrectly suggested that by agreeing to the option year of his contract, TFC was stuck with Hassliís contract and DP status for all of 2013. Thatís simply not the case.
By agreeing to the extension, TFC only re-gained their rights to him Ė their control. Although, itís highly likely that Paul Mariner had Hassli in his plans for 2013 when he extended him, the truth was they didnít have much option but to agree to the option year. If they were to have let him walk away in November they would have got nothing back for him. Now, they can go about deciding what to do with him.
Yes, they would have freed up a DP slot and salary cap room, but thatís still an option now.
Under the CBA teams can buy out one guaranteed contract per year without a cap hit. DP players are considered the same as non-DPs for the purpose of that rule. So, TFC still has the option of walking away from Hassli Ė they would just need to give him some MLSE money.
There is no argument that can be made that says that it makes more sense to let a player walk away for nothing when there is a possibility of getting something back. That something could be in production (he may yet play for TFC), an MLS asset or allocation in the form of a European transfer. And, make no mistake, Hassli would generate a transfer fee in a mid-level European league (Switzerland would seem to be a fit as he came from there to Vancouver).
Ultimately, this is as likely to be nothing, as it is to be a problem. Hassli is an emotional guy and he could just be reacting to losing a coach in Mariner that he trusted and who believed in him. It's quite possible he'll show up in Toronto's camp next week and this will all be forgotten.
Time will tell, but at least it's never dull in TFC-land...