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RUMOR: Club León’s Montes to the Rapids? (2 UPDATES)

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The Mexican international and pint-sized playmaker is interested in MLS. Is he up for the altitude in Commerce City?

Mexico v United States
A guy that wears the number 10 for Mexico has been linked with the Rapids. No, really.

The Colorado Rapids have been linked with Mexican International and Liga MX star Luis Montes of Club León.

Univision reports that Montes spoke with Miguel Ibarra about life in America and in MLS during Ibarra’s time with Club León in 2015 and 2016. Ibarra was sold from León to Minnesota United in advance of that club’s debut in MLS this season. Apparently, Montes’ interest is strong enough that Univision is linking him with a move to MLS. Reporter Julio Saucedo broke the story, while it was Univision Deportes reporter Raul Guzman that suggested the specific club in the negotiations was the Colorado Rapids.

Montes is a 31-year-old attacking midfielder for Club León. He has 19 caps for the Mexican National Team, and was set to play in the 2014 World Cup for El Tri, but broke his leg in a match only weeks before the tournament was set to begin.

This past season he played virtually every minute for his club in both the Fall Apertura of Liga MX as well as the Spring Clausura. He logged 21 starts, 1732 minutes, 5 goals and 1 assist in the Apertura, and added 2 goals in the playoff ‘Liguilla’ as León made a run to the semi-finals. For the Clausura, Montes had 15 starts, 1187 minutes, 0 goals and 3 assists as León finished a disappointing 14th.

Montes is nicknamed ‘El Chapo’ - ‘Shorty’ - due to his diminutive stature. He stands just 5’5”.*

He ticks a lot of boxes for the Colorado Rapids, who are in desperate need of a midfield attacking presence in order to generate more goals than their anemic offense has yet produced. As a Mexican international, he would energize a Latino fan base in Colorado that hasn’t fully embraced the local soccer team. And as a slightly older player, Montes is probably reasonably affordable compared with more prominent Mexican players in their prime like Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, Jesus ‘Tecatito’ Corona, Hirving Lozano, and Jurgen Damm.

Transfermarkt estimates his transfer price at $2.6 million, but Montes is reported to be in contract negotiations with León. Failure to come to terms would leave him free to leave on a free transfer to any team he’d like. Including, perhaps, the Rapids.

UPDATE:

Mexican sports newspaper Récord reports that Club León and the Colorado Rapids have already reached a verbal commitment. Additionally, Récord states:

Uno de los requisitos que puso Montes al Colorado fue ser adquirido como 'jugador franquicia', lo que significa un sueldo destacado dentro de la plantilla.

One of the requirements that Montes al Colorado put was to be acquired as a 'franchise player', which means a salary within the template.

translation via Google Translate

‘Franchise player’ might mean Designated Player, meaning that Montes takes the Rapids third DP slot, alongside goalkeeper Tim Howard and attacker Shkelzen Gashi, and replaces Argentinian winger Juan Ramirez. Ramirez is on loan to Talleres in the Argentinian Primera League, but it has been long speculated that Colorado would finalize a move to release him from the team roster in advance of the July transfer window. An MLS DP is one that makes in excess of $480,000. Any salary over that amount is not applied to the league salary cap of $3,845,000 per team.

Franchise player might alternately mean ‘player who’s contract is paid down via Targeted Allocation Money’.

6/4 UPDATE:

Looks like Montes is staying at León for the next three years.

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* An earlier version stated that Montes’ nickname was ‘El Chapo’ - it’s just ‘Chapo’. My bad.