CARSON, Calif. — Ola Kamara’s tenure with the LA Galaxy is over.
After joining the club before the 2018 season, and playing nearly 2,700 minutes while starting 30 games, scoring 14 goals (second most on the club), and adding three assists, the Norwegian striker has officially joined the Chinese Super League and Shenzhen Football Club.
The LA Galaxy look to have agreed on a transfer fee of close to $3.5-million for the 29-year-old striker. The entire process seems to have taken a little less than two weeks to complete with Kamara’s agent notifying the Galaxy of a possible deal earlier this month.
“This decision will be mutually beneficial to both our club and Ola,” said LA Galaxy General Manager Dennis te Kloese. “Ola wanted to pursue opportunities elsewhere, and we worked to complete a move that will give us options to strengthen our roster moving forward. We thank Ola for what he has contributed to this club and wish him the best in his future.”
Kamara departed for China on Tuesday after Galaxy officials allowed him to look abroad in hopes of finding a new, more lucrative, contract. With some reports even linking a possible move to league contenders New York City FC who may have been trying to lure Kamara when the Galaxy were successfully pitching a Gyasi Zardes trade plus Targeted Allocation Money ($400,000) to the Columbus Crew in 2018.
Reports are indicating that Kamara will be making close to $3-million per year with Shenzhen — far more than any MLS team would likely pay for his talents.
The Galaxy, for their part, awarded Kamara a new three-year contract after his acquisition from the Columbus. Kamara’s Galaxy contract was guaranteed for two years with an option for the third and paid the striker $925,000 in 2018 according to the MLS Players Union.
The then 28-year-old put in one of the most underrated performances of the season for the Galaxy. Having to play second fiddle to late-acquisition Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Kamara was dynamic on the attack. He orbited around Ibrahimovic and found ways to make himself useful while technically playing out of the position the Galaxy had acquired him for.
Moreover, as mentioned above, he tallied 14 times during the season and only missed games due to International Duty with Norway.
He was a positive presence on the field, and he ensured that teams couldn’t just sit on Ibrahimovic. He opened space for the tall Swede and ensured defenses kept a balance when watching both players. He also became the primary strike partner when Ibrahimovic would skip games due to the artifice playing surface of an opponent.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the Galaxy gave their blessing for Kamara to travel to China. With Galaxy general manager Dennis te Kloese saying, “Ola has expressed to us his intention to pursue opportunities elsewhere, and we have identified an option that would greatly benefit our club financially. We believe that this decision was needed to improve and balance our roster while granting Ola’s request. The transfer would allow us to achieve the best solution for addressing our needs both now and in the future.”
The Galaxy now stand to jump into a financial windfall of sorts. The Galaxy will receive 75-percent of the total transfer fee (MLS gets the remaining 25-percent) and can convert up to a maximum of $750,000 of that money to General Allocation Money (GAM) to offset roster charges against the salary cap.
If estimates are correct, that could see the Galaxy net $2,625,000 for Kamara. Money that could be used to offset a buyout on an existing designated player, for example.
Kamara’s departure also opens up the TAM that was used to sign him and make him roster complian. Although, like with many other MLS things, the exact amount of TAM they used to sign him is unknown. However, it’s at least $395,000 if his salary stayed the same from 2018.
What they do with that money and the GAM money they get from transfer fees is unknown. But the Galaxy have plenty of ways to use it. Whether that be solidifying a back line that probably needs one more starter, or by trying to replace Kamara’s production with a proven goalscorer.
Make no doubt about it; the timing is horrible. But the Galaxy may come out healthier financially and may finally give te Kloese and Guillermo Barros Schelotto some much-needed ammunition to finally flex their acquisition muscle.