Despite the transfer window slamming shut yesterday, Real Salt Lake finished their rumored transfer in time for an announcement today: Jefferson Savarino, a 20-year-old Venezuelan winger will officially join the club on loan from Zulia FC. He will be a young designated player.
In a press release, RSL general manager Craig Waibel said Savarino’s youth will give him a chance to assimilate quickly.
"Jefferson adds a new dynamic to our roster and continues to challenge the depth of our squad," Waibel said. "He is young and we will assimilate him into the team as quickly as possible, but his performance at Copa Libertadores shows that he is able to compete and deliver at a high level despite his age."
RSL coach Mike Petke said Savarino will help push the other wide attacking players, and that the player is a long-term prospect.
"We're excited to have him come in here and help the team win games, but also to have him along with the other wide players to push each other and help each other,” he said. “There will be an adjustment period, as usually happens with players from different countries, but we're looking at the long-term prospect of a young kid who is doing very well right now and we hope and expect him to make the next step."
Savarino, who joins RSL from Zulia FC, joins as an attacking player, and despite his age, he excelled in the Venezuelan league. In league play, he scored 22 goals in two years, and he earned 12 assists. He scored once in Copa Libertadores action, as well.
This is a move that, on the face of it, might seem a little surprising. But with recent tumult around Joao Plata coupled with a young set of wingers, the move starts to become a little more clear-cut.
Of course, the answer might be easier to crack than that: When you have a chance to bring in a young, talented attacking player with Copa Libertadores experience, it’s probably worth at least a cursory glance.
RSL’s international players now consist of Albert Rusnak, Demar Phillips, Jose Hernandez and Omar Holness. The roster on MLSSoccer.com listed Stephen Sunday as occupying an international slot until last Friday, but we haven’t had any official word from the club as to his status. A green card would perhaps not be inconceivable, but all the same, RSL has an international spot free for the taking.