As the New England Revolution's search for quality and stability at striker continues, a significant horse in this offseason's race has bowed out of the running. Reports in Denmark have surfaced and indicate that Rajko Lekic has agreed to terms with relegation-threatened Superliga side Lyngby BK. Apparently he's being hailed as a "savior" and saddled with the expectation of bringing the club out of the basement.
Errant comments from Revs camp have been floating around for months concerning Rajko's contract status. Early in the offseason, Lekic himself told Danish website mja.dk that he wanted to stay in Boston and expected to take a pay cut. Then, however, he was apparently offered an unsatisfactory deal and began looking elsewhere for employment. The striker cited the lack of guarantees in the contract as a sticking point for him (reported by L.E. Eisenmenger in the Examiner), and at that moment I don't think anyone shared any optimism that Rajko would be returning to Foxboro this season.
The knee-jerk reaction here is to be angry. However, upon further analysis, this move makes sense for all parties. Lekic's production last season was worth nowhere near the $275,000 his yearly salary would have paid him. He did mention that he'd take a pay cut, but realistically, how big of a cut would have been acceptable? $200,000 for a proven ten-goal scorer might be acceptable, but gambling that much on a guy who put away only six last season (and killed dozens of attacks by literally living in an offside position) would be objectionable at best. Anything lower than that and Lekic would presumably have balked at the total.
Rajko's major issue, though, was with the fact that his contract would only be semi-guaranteed. This means that the Revs would have been free to cut him any time between January 1st and July 1st. The Dane contended that with a family that he had relocated to America hanging in the balance, he couldn't gamble on the possibility that the club could leave him in a lurch come spring time. Frankly, this is a good move on his part. Semi-guaranteed contracts have been a normal practice in MLS since its inception, but nowadays it seems almost disrespectful to sign a guy with Lekic's pedigree to that kind of deal.
Again, the Revs probably made the best move they could in this situation, given all of the facts. Still, it leaves the team with even fewer prospects and options at striker. Jay Heaps recently alluded to the fact that he is in talks with two forwards, but is anyone optimistic about what that will bring? Not to be a dark cloud, here, but the season is just two months away. Preseason is already in full swing, and the Revs are still cruising at 70% - 75% roster capacity, and only three of those guys are forwards in any sense.
Other teams seem to be able to just get these things done. It would be nice if, for a change, we could see the Revs actually getting it done, too.