CARSON, Calif. – The LA Galaxy finally completed their acquisition of midfielder Sebastian Lletget last week, but according to head coach Bruce Arena, the league’s new discovery process delayed the player’s signing.
Lletget trained with the team during their preseason trip in Ireland but was unable to suit up in either of the club’s European preseason matches because of his contract with West Ham United. According to Arena, the Galaxy had the permission of West Ham to have him in during their preseason camp, allowing Lletget to train with the club in Ireland while the Galaxy coaching staff ran the rule over the player with the thought of signing him.
But that’s where the issues started.
"We had him in camp in Ireland, but due to the issues in our league with actually signing a player, it was made as difficult as possible, but we finally got it accomplished," Arena said. "All that was a blackmail job, that's all it is.”
The issue that Arena is referencing can be found at the bottom of Lletget’s player announcement revealing that the Galaxy needed to pay a tidy sum of $50,000 to the New England Revolution for the player’s discovery rights.
As the club finalized plans to sign Lletget, the Revolution placed the discovery claim after the league’s lists were reset following the ratification of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement which forced the Galaxy to pay for the right to acquire the former U.S. youth international.
“Discovery lists should be that you're pursuing a player and have interest in a player. You're discovering them because you want to sign them,” Arena said. “That should be the mechanism but through the years, teams in the league have attempted to use the rule as much as possible to hold back players from other teams. Now it just becomes a sped up blackmail job. Now you get the player, but eventually, you have to pay money for it.”
Given the flaws he sees in the discovery list mechanism, the question arises—how would Arena change the process to become more equitable across the league?
"When you get enough people that understand how to do these things in real life then eventually you'll convince people,” Arena said. “We should, in my view, be able to sign players that are outside the league. You discover them, you sign them. It shouldn't be an issue."