Sam Vines to Royal Antwerp Announced as Rapids Enter International Market

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Commerce City, Colo. – The Colorado Rapids have entered the international market of the MLS 3.0 era. Today the club announced that Homegrown left back Sam Vines has officially transferred to Royal Antwerp F.C. of the Jupiler Pro League. As originally reported by The Athletic, it’s believed the transfer fee is in the range of $2 million with a future sell-on percentage.

The move was officially announced by Royal Antwerp first on Thursday.

Sam Vines Transfers to Royal Antwerp, Rapids Enter International Market

Vines is originally from Colorado Springs and grew up playing for Pride SC. He signed as a Homegrown with the Rapids in March of 2018. He spent that year on loan at Charlotte Independence in the USL Championship. He because a regular starter for the Pids. In three seasons with Colorado, he played 53 games, totaling two goals and four assists.

Vines has come into his own this year, it was time:

The 22-year-old had become one of the most unique and dynamic fullbacks in MLS working Robin Fraser’s 4-3-3 system. He was a big part of the club’s success in 2020. His hamstring injury was a big contributor to the club’s downfall in the playoffs. So far in 2021, he was a major part of why the Rapids are a top four team in the Western Conference.

Combined with his national team appearances, Vines has come into his own in 2021. He just won the Gold Cup, playing in five of six games for the USMNT. Padraig Smith and the club have been consistent in their messaging the last few years: They want the Rapids to become a selling club. Selling players is about timing and doing what’s best for all parties, especially with a rumored immanent replacement.

With the form Vines has been on, it was time. It was just a matter of which club would provide the right fit for the player and the right financial compensation to acquire him. If the $2 million fee is to be believed, the Rapids are selling on the lower end. Some of that transfer fee will turn into GAM, probably paying for the Mark-Anthony Kaye trade. The rest goes back into the club. I’ll do my best to find out where specifically in the weeks to come.

The Financial Implications:

Vines is comparable to Reggie Cannon, who moved for a similar fee and a 50% sell-on, reportedly, to Portugal last summer at same age Vines is now. FC Dallas has a proven track record internationally when it comes to youth development. They can now charge a premium, similar to Southampton, Ajax, or Dortmund.

The Rapids aren’t there yet. Whether they’ve gotten market value for their first big youth export abroad will come down to any performance add-ons and the sell-on. If they’ve chosen to undersell the player to build up a reputation internationally, so be it. Vines playing well for three years in Belgium and then moving to one of the top four leagues for $7 million will make the Rapids whole financially. It’ll also put them on the map for scouting departments at other European clubs.

Vines is going to a top club in Belgium that expects to challenge for the league and play in Europa League regularly. They have only one true left back on the roster according to Transfermarkt. This move would not happen if the player didn’t want it or didn’t think it was a good fit. He’ll get to compete for the starting position in a league that increasingly wants to feed players to the big four leagues in Europe. This is a good and relatively soft landing spot for Vines.

Last Word: Get a foot in the international market and maintain the long view

This move is good for the player and sets up the Rapids to achieve one of their long term goals of being in the international market. Vines going now and succeeding in the years to come will get more eyes on the Homegrowns and Young Money players of the future.

The better he does, the more it will increase the valuation of a Cole Bassett, Auston Trusty, Oli Larraz or some Academy kid we haven’t heard of yet. If Vines was indeed sold undervalue, the Rapids will have prioritized long term sustainability over short term gain, something that’s become a theme of The Rapids Way.