As the Whitecaps continue their search for a natural scorer, speculation swirls about the possibility of a Camilo Sanvezzo return to Vancouver and its soccer fan base he scorned by unceremoniously departing for Queretaro FC.
After a weeks-long saga that included Sanvezzo photographed in a Queretaro kit while still under contract to the Vancouver side, the Whitecaps transferred the Brazilian striker and 2013 MLS Golden Boot winner to Los Gallos Blancos for a “multi-million dollar fee.”
Since then, Queretaro FC has been through tumultuous times.
This includes reports that Sanvezzo and other players were not being paid and that the Mexican government has seized the club due to a fraud investigation into Oceanografia, an oil service company owned by Amado Yanez, also the owner of Queretaro FC.
Talk about a possible Sanvezzo return to Vancouver picked up over the long weekend, after Whitecaps’ play-by-play man Peter Schaad wrote for TSN.ca that the striker desperately wanted to come back.
“It’s difficult for me to talk about Camilo. He’s under contract at the moment,” said Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson on Monday.
“As far as I’m concerned, he is on the list (of forwards the club is looking at) but he’s one of a number of five or six players that are on a list of potential players.
“His name has been brought up, but I could give you another four names which would slightly intrigue you a little more as well.”
Sanvezzo set the MLS standard for goals last year, scoring 22 times in 32 regular season games.
The Whitecaps currently sit fourth in the Western Conference, with a 4-2-4 record through 10 games. They have 16 goals, but probably should have more given their penchant for the attack and creating chances.
That killer finish has been missing at critical points early on.
But what would a Sanvezzo return do to that intangible locker room quality known as chemistry? Would the players have a problem with him coming back? And what about the fans?
Sanvezzo appeared well-liked by his peers, and was adored by the fans for his brilliance on the pitch. He spoke about his fondness of Vancouver and, in the interest of family stability with a young wife and child, how he wanted to stay here long term.
That changed dramatically in January, when the transfer was negotiated after almost three weeks of posturing from Sanvezzo and his Brazilian-based sports agency, Queretaro FC and the Whitecaps.
For what it’s worth, Sanvezzo’s agent, Lucas Teixeira, released a statement, which can be found on Goal.com, stating: “At no time has Camilo been desperate to return to Vancouver.
“He is professional and has a contract with Los Gallos Blancos. The Queretaro team directors and president give full support to the player and his family.
“Camilo has a great affection for Vancouver Whitecaps fans and the club, but at the moment, it is totally unfounded that there is a possibility of a return (to Vancouver).”
The dagger for Vancouver fans in all this: that photo of Sanvezzo in a Queretaro FC kit that made its round on Twitter.
In the business of professional sports, not everyone is going to be pleased with the end to a player-club partnership.
But what happened between Sanvezzo and the Whitecaps had a bitter feel to it, and left a similar taste for the club’s supporters.
“From the players, we play,” said Whitecaps captain Jay DeMerit. “It’s our job to come into the locker room and welcome whoever is in it.
“It’s way to speculative at this point where we could say if it would work or not.”
As Robinson has leaned increasingly more on youth, the Whitecaps appear to have formed a speedy and exciting nucleus of attacking players up front, including Darren Mattocks, Sebastian Fernandez, Kekuta Manneh and Pedro Morales.
Those four players have combined for 10 of the club’s 16 regular season goals.
“When Camilo left, I said one player doesn’t make a football club. And I think that’s been demonstrated this season. Players have got opportunities and done very well,” said centre back Andy O’Brien.
Any possible return of Sanvezzo return to Vancouver seems tied to a future resolution with Queretaro FC and the dim circumstances that club faces.
Robinson said any signings the club makes — the secondary transfer window opens July 8 — will be “for the medium and long-term future.”
“Whether it’s Camilo or whoever, we need another option,” said Robinson.
“You’re always looking. You’re always trying to evolve the team. But if it was ever going to disrupt the harmony of the group, then I would not do it.”