PHILADELPHIA – Ever since it was confirmed that Sébastien Le Toux was on trial with Bolton, the Philadelphia Union brass have been reluctant to address their star striker’s possible departure.
But on Tuesday, Union manager Peter Nowak and CEO & Operating Partner Nick Sakiewicz briefly discussed the ongoing situation surrounding the club’s best player, with Nowak indicating that the chance for Le Toux to join the English Premier League side on a permanent basis could be too good to pass up.
“I think for every player, regardless of their age, if an opportunity like that presents itself, then you've got to grab it by the horns,” Nowak said. “We’ll see what happens next but that’s the story right now.”
Nowak would not get into specific negotiations with Bolton, only saying, “We’re in the middle of the whole thing.”
Earlier Tuesday, Le Toux tweeted, “I spent a great week at BWFC. Great club with great people. Now back in Philly.”
It’s been widely speculated that the Union could sell Le Toux to Bolton for a considerable fee, a potential transfer that was first reported by Fox Soccer last week.
Is that a business deal the Union would consider before the January transfer window closes next Tuesday?
“If we can give a player an opportunity like this and capitalize from it and reinvest that money into the team to get better, we’ll do that,” Sakiewicz said.
Financial dealings aside, a daunting question is who would replace the significant scoring void Le Toux’s departure would leave. In the Union’s first two seasons, the Frenchman netted 25 of the team’s 78 total goals, added 20 assists and endeared himself to Philly fans with hustle and humility that matched his talent.
“However you slice it, the stats don’t lie, that’s true,” Nowak said. “The rest is about opportunity. I will say for us we have to look what is possible, what is not possible and what is good for the organization.”
Added Sakiewicz, “I think it’s important for us to understand that we don’t build our club around any one player. It’s not the Union way. We’re a team first and everyone knows ‘team’ wins championships. Individual players don’t.”
The Union do have a corps of young, talented strikers who, while short on experience, are long on potential. That group includes Chandler Hoffman, the club’s top pick in the 2012 SuperDraft, former first-round picks Danny Mwanga and Jack McInerney, and recent signee Josué Martínez. None is older than 21.
It’s been recently rumored that the Union could add veteran Colombian striker Lionard Pajoy into the mix, but Nowak, as his habit, did not discuss the possibility of any future signings. The Union manager did, however, allow that there will likely be more activity, even after training camp opens on Monday.
“Until March 1 [the roster compliance deadline], there’s going to be a lot of movement,” Nowak said. “Until March 1, everything is open and we’ll adjust to that.”
Whatever the team’s roster ends up looking like heading into the 2012 season, Sakiewicz is confident the club will continue to make big strides in their third year of existence. With or without Le Toux.
“We’ve got the best technical staff in the league and I’m not bashful about saying that,” the Union CEO said. “We have a great deal of trust in the technical staff. Peter is really good.”
Dave Zeitlin covers the Philadelphia Union for MLSsoccer.com. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.