There is an old saying in the business of silly season: Sometimes, you don’t need rumors. You just need news.
And by “an old saying,” I mean, that’s what I wrote just now. It’s true, though. There were no real rumors about Toni Datkovic going back to FC Cartagena in the last few weeks. Not that I’d seen, at least, and I’ve been paying attention. I think we all just assumed it was going to happen, which is a slightly different but importantly similar thing.
And happen it did, because Datkovic has just gone back to Cartagena. (Maybe not literally. He was pictured in photos the club posted earlier today. Maybe that was from yesterday or the day before at a stretch, but regardless. I don’t know that he’s there quite yet.) The source is pretty unimpeachable, as far as sources go. It’s FC Cartagena themselves, announcing the move before Real Salt Lake has announced anything themselves.
Now, we don’t really have details of the mechanism by which Datkovic was released from his Real Salt Lake contract, but a smart supposition would be that the contract was terminated by mutual consent. He had been at the club just since the summer transfer window. Not much time, really.
Cartagena was not the last club to hold Datkovic’s international transfer certificate, interestingly. That was Greek side Aris Saloniki, who had loaned him to Cartagena. It does sound like fans of the Spanish side are pleased to have the player back — at least from a cursory reading of Twitter — and I suspect few Real Salt Lake fans will be broken up to see Datkovic leave.
It’s a mystery, really, why things didn’t work out, but such is the way with international soccer. Sometimes, a plan that seems like it should work flawlessly — an experienced defender, social contacts within the team to ease the burden of transition, a growing need within the team — simply don’t for reasons outside a player’s control.
Anyway, so long, Toni Datkovic. We’ll always have the time I saw you at Rio Tinto Stadium and your eyes pierced my soul without casting a glance in my direction.