The departure of Jefferson Savarino at the end of the 2019 season saw one of Real Salt Lake’s most promising players leave for abroad, signing a deal at Atletico Mineiro.
The stated reasons, aside from the likely pay raise and time playing in a more prominent league, were around family. Savarino and his partner were new parents, and family in Venezuela reportedly hadn’t been able to see the child because of travel difficulty from Venezuela to the United States.
The reported $2 million transfer fee made him RSL’s most lucrative transfer, surpassing RSL’s previous record of Carlos Salcedo for something in the range of $600,000.
Now, in 2022, Savarino is returning to Real Salt Lake, signing a three-year deal with the club. Real Salt Lake was earlier reported as having paid $2.5 million to Atletico Mineiro for Savarino, with the selling club retaining a 20 percent sell-on fee.
Real Salt Lake announced on Monday that they had secured a deal with Austin FC and FC Cincinnati for the top spot in the allocation ranking, spending a hefty $450,000 sum for the privilege to sign a player that played at the club in 2019.
Following the allocation move, RSL secured Savarino’s signature on a four-year contract through 2025.
Savarino’s time at Atletico Mineiro was fruitful, though his minutes have been steadily decreasing over the years. 2020 saw him a starting player (28 starts, 32 appearances), scoring seven goals and earning six assists. In 2021, his time diminished to just 18 appearances and 11 starts, scoring five goals and grabbing two assists. 2022, having just begun, has seen him with one of three starts, but he’s also scored two goals in his single start.
Savarino’s return to Real Salt Lake is one that sees him return as a 25-year-old with experience in the top division in Brazil, playing for a team that won the Serie A title. While the old “players we know” trope can be a little tiring, I think it’s fair to say that the return of Savarino is one that nobody will be particularly upset by.
When asked about the roster’s current DP situation in media availability on Wednesday, RSL general manager Elliot Fall confirmed that Savarino will be a DP, joining Damir Kreilach and Sergio Córdova as the club’s current DPs. He did say that if the right player comes along in the summer, RSL has the ability to change the roster status of either or both Kreilach or Córdova to accommodate the signing.
Quotes follow from a club-issued release.
RSL general manager Elliot Fall:
“Bringing Jefferson back to Salt Lake has been an exciting process in recent months – obviously we have great memories of him here representing our badge, our colors, our community, and certainly sparking our attack. During his time in Brazil over the last couple years, Jefferson has matured as a player and as a person. We expect him to provide even more danger as a playmaking and finishing option for RSL, and look forward to him combining with so many pieces on the roster. Our Club could not be more elated to welcome Jefferson and his family back to Utah.”
“My family and I have long anticipated a return to Utah; we have great memories of the fans, the community, the stadium and of course my teammates. I am told that our locker room is very much together, very tight-knit, and that the Club is poised for success. I look forward to meeting Pablo Mastroeni in person and working with him and the entire staff, as my friend Damir has shared with me wonderful things. I am grateful to Elliot, the new owners and everyone who helped make this move back to Real Salt Lake happen. I am focused on scoring goals and creating excitement and doing absolutely whatever it takes to bring trophies and success to Utah.”