The Colorado Rapids are closing in on a deal to send 22-year-old homegrown defender Sam Vines to Belgian club Royal Antwerp for a fee upwards of $2 million.
A source within the organization and a source close to Vines confirmed the two sides are nearing a deal pending signatures and a medical examination. The deal was first reported by The Athletic.
Vines is currently with the U.S. national team in Kansas City as they prepare for their second match in the Gold Cup. The Colorado native scored the game winner in a 1-0 win over Haiti.
It is likely he has played his last game for the Rapids.
Royal Antwerp recently qualified for the Europa League after finishing third in the Belgian Pro League first division. According to sources, they will pay up to $2 million including add-ons and the Rapids will receive compensation if Vines is sold on to another club.
“We want to move players into Europe,” Rapids General Manager Padraig Smith said earlier this year. “That is very much a part of our ethos here, the right move for both the player and the Rapids.”
This is the second-ever Rapids player to be sold to a European club after Shane O’Neill was sold to Greek club Apollon Limassol.
“[We have] a real structure that enables us not only to be able to identify and recruit the best young talent across the country,” Smith said, “but then to be able to develop that talent within our club, succeed on the field with that talent and then ultimately be able to provide a platform where they can go on and go all the way to playing at the very highest levels of the game, both on the club side, and for their national team.”
Vines had a breakout season in 2020 for both club and country. At the club level, he was the only player to start all 18 of Colorado’s regular-season games, scoring his first goal for the club and tallying three assists. He was twice on the MLS team of the week and was selected Colorado’s defensive player of the year by the Rapids’ supporters group Centennial 38.
He signed a contract extension through 2025 last offseason, giving the club control over his next move.
Vines has played in 53 games for the Rapids, starting 49 with two goals and four assists. He has started eight games so far this season and tallied a goal and an assist.
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