Steve Goff of the Washington Post is reporting that D.C. United's attempts to sign Perry Kitchen to a new contract may have finally ended. Kitchen, who is currently out of contract, appears to be looking at options in Denmark and Germany after allegedly turning down a salary that was nearly met the Designated Player threshold:
No resolution in D.C. United-Perry Kitchen talks. Latest offer: almost DP $. Time's up. #DCU moving on. Kitchen looking to Denmark, Germany— Steven Goff (@SoccerInsider) December 23, 2015
When reached by B&RU, D.C. United declined to comment on the reports.
The talks between United and Kitchen have been going on for months, and in recent weeks this has seemed like the most likely outcome. Even with MLS greatly expanding each team's pool of Targeted Allocation Money, United was going to have a hard time signing Kitchen to a new deal that didn't involve paying more than his market value. It is also hard to question Kitchen's position here, as clubs in stronger European leagues can afford to pay more money without worrying about a salary cap.
Still, it is a worrying development for United. Kitchen has missed just 12 league matches in his 5 professional seasons, and the Black-and-Red's record in those games is 0W-4D-8L (and a goal difference of -16). There is no ready-made replacement on the roster, either. Markus Halsti and Davy Arnaud would be the obvious solution provided the rumored players in Ligue 1 and the Argentine Primera don't materialize, but in both cases there are question marks. Goff has previously noted that United could opt to mutually terminate Halsti's contract if he wants to return to Europe, while Arnaud has said he may have to consider retiring if his concussion symptoms have not cleared up by the start of preseason.
That duo would also have issues in terms of mobility and age, something an already slow United squad can't really afford. The transfers from abroad that Goff alluded to above - namely a defensive midfielder playing in France (but not necessarily a Frenchman) and an Argentine playmaker - are suddenly far more important in this situation. If these players aren't successful, United could be looking at a more difficult season than they've had in the past two years.
Due to MLS rules, if United were to lose Kitchen to a free transfer, they would retain his MLS playing rights if he were to return to the league. However, that would be cold comfort for a team suddenly needing a player that has previously been indispensable.