In a move that should come as no surprise, German Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin announced on their website
that USA U-20 World Cup standout Bryan Arguez will be released from his contract with the team at the end of the year.
From prized prospect to the chopping block
Originally brought to the club in a largely surprise move in early-2008, the defensive midfielder made one brief first-team appearance with the club within days after arriving in Berlin, but had gradually fallen out of favor with the team in the following months.
In the time since his Bundesliga debut, the Miami native had been limited to a small handful of games with Hertha's U-23 team competing in Germany's fourth-tiered Regionalliga Nord. However as his entire time on the field in the current season consisted of one single game in early-September, his days in Berlin were clearly numbered.
Also surely expediting his departure was the late-September firing of former coach Lucien Favre, who had engineered the midfielder's original move to Berlin and consistently stood by him as a staunch supporter through a series of rumored trials and tribulations over the course of his nearly two years at the club.
Arguez reportedly spent time trialing with Belgian club Charleroi in August, but a failure for the clubs to reach an agreement ultimately scuppered any deal.
An unintentional favor?
While the abrupt about-face by Hertha barely four months later can be viewed as yet another in a series of missteps (and plain bad luck) by a club which has gone from title-challengers to lame-duck relegation fodder in the space of several months, the delay may have actually helped Arguez's case as he enters the uncertain territory of finding a new club to call home.
As he was left adrift in the periphery of the team's plans, Arguez was fortunate to be a late addition to Thomas Rongen's U-20 World Cup squad in September and eventually one of the standout performers on the otherwise severely underachieving team. As discussed in this blog
during the team's unspectacular three-and-out in Egypt, his solid and game-changing play in midfield could have only helped his case at the tournament where European scouts questionably outnumber fans in the audience.
With all due respect to Charleroi, Arguez's newfound "free agent" status and impressive showing in Egypt could give the highly talented 20 year-old a number of opportunities beyond a club which is currently fighting against relegation to the Belgian Second Division. Should he end up in a better situation than the one which was seemingly ruled out by the club's insistence on what would have surely minor compensation (compared to the €7 million received from Hoffenhiem for sorely-missed central defender Josip Simunic), Hertha's upper management should have a nice thank-you card waiting in their mailbox in the coming months.
Whether he stays in Germany, tests the waters elsewhere in Europe or heads back across the Atlantic to bolster an MLS squad, Arguez faces perhaps the most important move of his young career, however has luckily found himself able to choose his destination in an arguably far better position than ever before.