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Making sense of the Jefferson Savarino reports

Jefferson Savarino is linked to a move back to RSL, but does it make sense?

MLS: MLS Cup Conference Semifinals-Real Salt Lake at Seattle Sounders FC Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Of all the news to be dropped today, I don’t think any of us expected something like this. Real Salt Lake is in talks to bring former RSL winger Jefferson Savarino back after a successful two-year stint with Atlético Mineiro of the Brazilian Série A.

There is a lot to unpack from this report, but the main thing I want to look at is why this move from RSL and Savarino, and why right now? Let’s break it down.

Why This Makes Sense for Savarino

I think it’s worth looking at Savarino’s position in this to see why a move to RSL might make sense. There are a couple of reasons why. First, he liked playing and living here in Salt Lake. On a recent edition of El Show RSL, Sergio Cordova told us that before he came out to Salt Lake he spoke with Savarino about his time here and said that Jefferson only had good things to say about the club and about Utah. There are also reports that came out today that claim that Savarino wants to come back to RSL, so take that for what it’s worth. But given the confirmation that the club is in talks with Savarino, it’s probably safe to say that those reports of him wanting to be here hold water.

The other main reason why this move makes sense for Savarino to return is because of a report from Argentine reporter César Luis Merlo:

“Cristian Pavón’s agent will meet with the directors of Atlético Mineiro on Thursday in Brazil. His transfer from Boca is complete, and they are finishing up the last details.”

In other words: Atlético Mineiro is signing the Argentine star Cristian Pavón from Boca Juniors. And as speculated by Chiqui Pelaez:

If Mineiro really is bringing in Pavón like the report says, that will likely push Savarino out of a starting position, or at least make him have to share more playing time. By getting out of Mineiro and coming back to RSL, where he would for sure be a Designated Player, he would be able to play more and even shine for a team that is in need of attacking and creative talent.

Why this makes sense for RSL

Trying to bring Savarino back to Salt Lake also makes a lot of sense for RSL. First and foremost, he would be a great addition to the RSL attack. He excelled during his three seasons with the Claret and Cobalt and contributed to one of the brightest attacking lines RSL has arguably ever had. He has also excelled during his past two years in Brazil, most notably winning the Brazilian Série A and the Brazilian Cup in 2021 while being a regular contributor. He would no doubt increase the quality and creativity in RSL’s attack as we saw him do in his previous stint in the club. Add to that his proven experience in MLS, it’s almost a no brainer for RSL to want Savarino back.

The other aspect RSL will be keen on is the money. Since RSL sold Savarino to Mineiro in 2020, his value has grown quite a bit on the world market. Transfermarkt currently lists him at $8.8 million, which would blow any transfer fee RSL has ever paid out of the water. But, apart from the obvious quality that comes with that big of a price tag, RSL would likely get a “discount” for bringing him back. RSL still owns a sizable amount of Savarino’s rights, around 40% according to reports, which would mean that any fee that Mineiro sells Sava for, RSL would get 40% of that. Now, unless something else was worked out in the original deal about this specific circumstance, I think it’s safe to assume that RSL would essentially get a 40% discount on Mineiro’s asking price. So essentially it’s a steal financially. Even now that we have owners who are more willing to open the purse strings, you have to take a deal when you see one.

So, all things considered, I think RSL trying to bring back Savarino makes complete sense. Apart from the nostalgia us fans have at the prospect, it actually makes sense for both player and club, which is not something we can say about all player returns in RSL history. For now we’ll just wait and see how this plays out, along with the confirmation that the club is still in talks with Anderson Julio and Gustavo Cuellar, and hope for the best.