Javier Morales became a star on the pitch by keying Real Salt Lake’s attack with creativity and quick decision-making.
Away from the field, he’s proven to be more deliberate.
More than a month has passed since RSL was bounced from the MLS playoffs, and the Argentine midfielder has yet to sign a new deal in Salt Lake or anywhere else.
When he might do so is anyone’s guess.
“We’d love to have him back,” RSL general manager Garth Lagerwey said. “We’ve made him an offer, and it’s up to Javi now.”
Morales has garnered interest from clubs in Mexico, which could mean a more lucrative offer than anything Real Salt Lake could muster. And, with the Mexican offseason in full swing, many players are content to wait and see what happens.
“You probably are in, I wouldn’t call it a holding pattern between now and Christmas, but you have more credibility after Christmas with South American and Central American teams,” Lagerwey said earlier this month of possible signings. “Because no matter what you offer them right now, they’re probably going to sit there and say, ‘Hey, Mexico might offer more than you do.’ So if you’re not smart, you can actually bid up your own price.”
But Morales’ agent, Alejandro Taraciuk, said it could take his client until well after Christmas to put ink to a new deal.
“The goal is to have him with a contract before the beginning of preseason, although I cannot assure that will happen,” Taraciuk wrote this week in an email to The Salt Lake Tribune.
Since joining Real Salt Lake in 2007, Morales has been the linchpin in the team’s diamond midfield, scoring 20 goals and notching a club-record 43 assists.
Last season, Morales was Real’s highest-paid player, earning at least $477,500, according to the MLS Players’ Union. But the midfielder, who turns 33 next month, has seen his production drop some since breaking his ankle early in the 2011 season.
Taraciuk said there are “challenges” the two sides must overcome, but that Morales remains hopeful he will be playing at Rio Tinto next year.
“Javi has no doubts that RSL is making a big effort in meeting his needs as I believe they recognize that Javi has made some concessions from his original requests,” Taraciuk said.