After Friday's announcement of Valentín Castellanos' move to S.S. Lazio, New York City FC supporters were happy for their star player. It took over a year to find a permanent home, but his time in La Liga is why the Argentine was able to go to Italy.
But, before the NYCFC fans could truly enjoy their Friday, shocking news was released by The Athletic's Tom Bogert. This season's star, Gabriel Pereira, was leaving the club. Bogert said the Brazilian is expected to move to Qatar. Afterward, Fabrizio Romano said that Al Rayyan is the club looking to sign the winger.
Then, the news was confirmed on Saturday. NYCFC announced that the forward is leaving to join the Qatari team. The club confirmed the outgoing transfer is "an eight-figure fee", but did not disclose the actual amount.
The news that Gabriel Pereira is leaving NYCFC is shocking
This news is puzzling, for NYCFC desperately needs help for the remainder of the season. The team needs to keep players and not lose their best ones. So why is Pereira leaving?
Since it is Qatar, it is always possible money is the reason why, and perhaps both the club and player thought it was the right time, even with their struggles. If Al Rayyan offered a transfer fee that the Pigeons could not turn down, and Pereira liked the move, then that is understandable.
Still, that would allude that NYCFC might be throwing in the towel for 2023, especially to the supporters. From a business standpoint, especially once and if details are known, the transfer can make sense. But David Lee needs to be upfront. He told NYCFC.com that Pereira wanted the opportunity to play in another league, but there has to be more to the story.
Additionally, was the Brazilian unhappy at NYCFC? If this is the case, then this is problematic. Why would he be unhappy? Is it because the club is having a terrible season? Is it Nick Cushing? Hopefully, it is not due to the struggles this year, for that would look bad on the player. On the other hand, if it is due to Cushing, then that is a big issue. As such, it would beg the question about whether others feel the same way, and want out of New York.
No matter the reason, this looks poorly on the club. NYCFC needs to keep their best players until they are ready to make the jump to bigger and better clubs, which are mostly in Europe. Arguably, Major League Soccer is a better league compared to the Qatar Stars League. Hence, it is shocking Pereira would agree to such a move. He said it was a "great opportunity", but how is moving to Qatar a step up?
Therefore, money has to be a big reason for the transfer, but the question remains whether he wanted to leave New York City FC, and how badly too. The 2023 season continues to be troublesome, and Pereira's departure does not help.