TransferRoom helps a lot. We are now dealing with a lot of markets that we were not dealing with before, and it is now part of our strategy to find young talent in smaller leagues that come here to grow. Obviously one of our main markets is South America because the South American players are in general much more up for going to MLS right now.
Whitecaps acquired Caicedo (pictured) from Deportivo Cali in Colombia’s top-flight ahead of the 2021 MLS season for a fee in the region of $2.5 million.
The 20-year-old, a member of Colombia's squad at the 2019 Under-20 FIFA World Cup, was a perfect fit for the club’s profile - “a very fast and aggressive left-sided winger.”
Whitecaps CEO and Sporting Director Axel Schuster said: “My first contact with the club [Deportivo Cali] was with TransferRoom, because I love to directly reach out to a club and connect with them first, before so many people get involved because every person that is involved in the transfer always wants to get a piece of the cake. To have this first connection and say, ‘Hey, we would be interested in the player, and this is our budget, can that work - yes or no?’
“If that is sorted out, then you still speak with the agent of the player that is fair enough, every player should have his agent to negotiate if he doesn't feel comfortable doing this himself, and how should a 20-year-old Colombian player feel comfortable doing this?
“But to have this first step and not waste so much time because maybe it doesn't work or maybe the club is not willing to sell, or if this doesn't fit the player, then TransferRoom is a great tool for that.”
A new contacts book
Schuster spent 20 years with Bundesliga clubs FSV Mainz 05 and FC Schalke 04 before moving to Vancouver in late 2019.
Rich contacts in Germany and neighbouring countries are all well and good, but Schuster needed to tap the rich resources of South America, which has become a strong buyer market for MLS clubs in recent seasons.
He said: “TransferRoom helps a lot. We are now dealing with a lot of markets that we were not dealing with before, and it is now part of our strategy to find young talent in smaller leagues that come here to grow. Obviously one of our main markets is South America because the South American players are in general much more up for going to MLS right now.
“They see it as a stepping stone and a springboard to Europe. So now you have to find these connections in Ecuador, in Colombia, in Bolivia where I have never dealt in before, because if there was this one player that was attractive for European clubs, I can tell you there were for sure already 100 agents in the world involved that gave you all the contacts you needed.”
It’s not just inbound benefits that the Whitecaps are getting from TransferRoom, with the club looking to use the platform to maximise opportunities for its young talent. One such way came through a TransferRoom Summit meeting.
Schuster said: “We make other clubs aware that we have talent that is available. We just connected in the summit with a club that is very interested in cooperating with us because they are financially struggling. They are from the level of the league below us and they see a huge upside for them if we loan them players. Our players get minutes, and they get more players for their squad without the financials involved at a time where a lot of clubs are struggling with that.”