FOXBOROUGH, MA – APRIL 16: Adam Buksa #9 of New England Revolution dribbles down the wing during a game between Charlotte FC and New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on April 16, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/Getty Images).
The New England Revolution sold star forward Adam Buksa to Ligue 1 side RC Lens earlier this month, for a reported transfer fee of roughly $10m. Buksa, 25 years old, has not just been arguably New England’s best player this season, but he has also been arguably one of the best players in all of MLS this year. While the sale brings in a strong amount of new funds, it brings up a big question.
Buksa is currently tied for fourth in MLS in goals with seven. He’s done this playing in just ten matches (he’s played less minutes than all of the goal-scorers ahead of him, which puts him as one of the best per-90 scorers in the league).
Selling Buksa for $10m is quite the return on investment for New England. They purchased Buksa for around $4m back in late 2019 prior to the 2020 MLS season. Overall for his MLS career, Buksa played in 64 matches while scoring 29 goals (along with eight assists). He has been one of the best attacking players in MLS during the past two seasons, now both he and New England are benefiting from it.
Buksa’s strong play has also boosted him in his national team standing as well, as he’s now back in the Poland national team picture and is playing for them currently in the UEFA Nations League.
Replacing someone of Buksa’s caliber is not easy, but New England’s offense hasn’t been the club’s issue this season. Plus, it’s hard to blame them for jumping the chance at reaping a $5.5m profit for selling Buksa.
This comes less than a year after New England also made a healthy profit in selling winger Tajon Buchanan to Club Brugge in Belgium for $7m (Buchanan was a MLS Superdraft pick for New England, so he had next to no initial financial investment from the club). So, the Revolution have brought in $17m total ($13m if you take out the $4m they original bought Buksa for) by selling Buchanan and Buksa in the last year. That is quite the bit of good business, however selling two prominent players also opens up the need for replacements.
While New England could use these profits to make another move, we don’t know exactly what that would look like at the moment. Plus, there is a solid chance that even if a move happens that it could take a couple weeks to make the deal, so New England will likely have to play a couple matches before any new player arrives.
FOXBOROUGH, MA – MAY 7: Jozy Altidore #14 of New England Revolution dribbles while pressured during a game between Columbus Crew and New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on May 7, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/Getty Images).
Enter in a pretty big MLS/USMNT name that you might not had even realized was in New England serving as a reserve…Jozy Altidore. Altidore made his way to New England this past offseason after the end of his tenure with Toronto FC. While Altidore isn’t the player he was in his early Toronto days or when he was the top USMNT option at striker, he still is a big name who has a long history of scoring goals.
Altidore is 32 years old and isn’t the long-term answer at striker, but I think he can still be a capable player in the meantime. New England thought he still had enough in the tank when they signed him this past season, and he’s earned some playing time as a sub. Altidore isn’t Buksa, but the profits help mitigate that difference.
New England will also need continued stellar play from Midfielder Carles Gil. Gil is tied for the MLS lead in assists (7), and he has also added 3 goals and is completing passes at an 81.5% rate. Gil is the reason that I said Buksa was “arguably” the Revs’ best player, and not just the outright best. Gil has been really impressive this year as usual.
The biggest thing that New England needs to sure up to help them after losing Buksa is to improve defensively. New England currently has the 11th ranked defense in the East (tied for 22nd in the league), having allowed 24 goals through 14 games. Whether it’s Altidore or a new player coming in up top, the Revolution must improve defensively if they are going to make the playoffs. Whether it’s a personnel change or a change in system, New England needs to improve on defense.
New England could also use these profits to quickly reinvest into their attack. This could either come from a inter-MLS trade, or by acquiring a player from South America or Europe. The sales of Buksa and Buchanan show that New England has done a quality job of not only scouting forwards, but also developing them as well. Buksa took a big step forward between his first season in 2020, and the last year and a half. It also gives them a quality amount of funds to use to reinvest.
We already know a recent young investment that New England has made in 20 year old Colombian winger Dylan Borrero. In order to help replace Buchanan (and likely knowing they would eventually sell Buksa), New England spent roughly $4m (according to Transfermarkt) to bring in Borrero a few months ago. While Borrero has not made an immediate big time impact, he will be one of the ones that New England is betting on to help take the mantle up top from Buchanan and Buksa.
Borrero is more of a Buchanan replacement, so I wouldn’t be surprised if New England goes out and brings in another Designated Player up top at some point soon to help replace Buksa. We just don’t know who it is yet, but with the way New England has developed Buchanan and Buksa, I think New England will bring in a strong player.
In terms of this season, New England has some work to do to make the playoffs and to contend. They are one spot out of the playoffs and just lost one of their best players. They have to improve on defense in order to make that jump. They also need the likes of Altidore to step up. However, this is a team that has some talent and has done a good job recently of elevating players.
source: MLS Multiplex