After a quiet start to the offseason, the Philadelphia Union has finally made a big move. Kai Wagner has signed a long-term extension to stay with the Blue and Gold.

Union fans were starting to get antsy with the lack of moves this season. Along with it came concern about Ernst Tanner’s plan as we advance.

Fortunately, the first big question mark has been answered. After a very dramatic and drawn-out time, it is finally confirmed Kai Wagner is here to stay.

This news is somewhat surprising. Kai Wagner has been very vocal about his desire to play in the top leagues in Europe. The 26-year-old Left Back had gained interest from Leeds United in England.

Simultaneously, Wagner’s status was a huge discussion point throughout the entirety of the 2023 Season for the Union. Every home game there would be a breakout of “Pay Kai Wagner” chants. That was until Wagner was suspended in the MLS Cup playoffs for breaking the league’s anti-discrimination policy. While the complete story has never been revealed, Wagner lost a lot of traction with the fan base. Wagner still has one game left on his suspension, so he will miss the MLS Season Opener against Chicago. Some fans will be excited to see his return. Others, not so much.

It is a Great Roster Move

At the end of the day, bringing back Kai Wagner is one of the best roster moves the Union could make. Wagner, a multiple-time MLS all-star and MLS best 11 player, is touted as the best left-back in MLS. Simultaneously, Wagner is an integral point of the Union philosophy.

For starters, Wagner is perhaps Ernst Tanner’s best “diamond in the rough” signing. Tanner brought in Wagner from the 3rd division in Germany for a transfer fee so low it was never factually reported. Since then, Wagner has exploded his worth to $5+ million.

Wagner is also an integral part of the Union’s on-field philosophy. Wagner can play great defense. However, what he brings to the offense could not have been replaced. Wagner was among the league leaders in assists in 2022. In 2023, he led the Union in tackles won.

The fact of the matter is Kai Wagner’s return is a huge boost to the Union’s roster. As well as their hopes to add to their trophy case.

Now, questions are still around the roster. Hopefully, Union captain Alejandro Bedoya, who is also out of contract, is due up next. Nonetheless, Union fans are happy to see management show signs of life after a very quiet start to the offseason.

 

Featured Image: Wes Shepherd/PHLSportsNation

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