Canadian 22-year-old Cyle Larin—MLS Rookie of the Year in 2015, and leading scorer for Orlando City in all three of his seasons with the club—decided he’d had enough of his MLS team this offseason. Larin, presumably seeking a step up from a bad American squad and into potential Champions League minutes, went overseas and got a physical from Beşiktaş in Turkey. Not long after, he signed with the reigning Turkish champs as if he were a free agent.
Orlando City’s management was furious with Larin’s new contract, claiming that their star was not free to leave until 2019, and couldn’t sign it. At the center of their grievance was a dispute over the final two years of Larin’s MLS contract—Orlando City claimed that the remaining years were team options, and said that Larin acknowledged those options in a document signed in 2017. Larin, meanwhile, believed that he was allowed to leave the club of his own volition, and seemed prepared to take up the question over his Orlando contract with FIFA if need be.
The whole thing has been kind of a farce, given that Larin’s been training in Turkey with Beşiktaş for weeks, and obviously wasn’t coming back:
Today, Beşiktaş and Orlando City appear to have reached a deal, with the Turkish club giving the MLS side a fee reportedly higher than the initially leaked $2.3 million. Additionally, contrary to MLS protocol, Orlando City will also be able to keep that entire fee, instead of giving 30 percent to the league and 10 percent to the player. In return for dealing with this dumb controversy, Beşiktaş get a good young player off a weak team.
Defeated, Orlando City released this gloriously peeved statement, which reads in full:
After recognizing the existence of a valid contract, Beşiktaş J.K. has agreed with Orlando City SC on terms for the transfer of forward Cyle Larin to the Turkish side for an undisclosed fee.
Although the Club was disappointed with the unacceptable behavior of the athlete and his representatives, a decision was taken to guarantee compensation with the Club’s future in mind.
The Club looks forward to focusing on the upcoming season with staff and players who honor and respect the strong values of the Club and commitment to our community to lead us through 2018 and beyond.
Given that Orlando City has only existed for three years and never made the playoffs, Cyle Larin was quite literally the best thing that has ever happened to them. Still, as the club notes, it was clearly unacceptable of him to, uh, sign a valid contract with another team.