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Colorado Rapids officially decline purchase option on Left Back Lucas Esteves

U22 Brazilian will return to Palmeiras. Rapids have internal options at left back but could look within MLS.

MLS: FC Dallas at Colorado Rapids Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Colorado Rapids have officially declined the purchase option on loaned left back Lucas Esteves, the club announced today. The offer was believed to be a $1 million transfer fee with a 50% sell on clause.

In one and a half years with the club, Esteves made 47 appearances in all competitions. In 2022, he started 24 of 34 regular season games recording a goal and three assists. Many fans and pundits would say he regressed from his 2021 form. The 22-year-old was less sharp in the attack and had some worrying defensive moments. He by no means was the main reason for the team’s poor defense this year.

He was dynamic in the attack and seemed to fit into the ethos of the club. As of this past summer, he wanted to stay at the club.

Why did the Rapids make this decision?

I have to believe this is a financial decision. By their standards, the club spent big out of pocket this year in acquiring Max Alves and Gustavo Vallecilla. To spend another million, that player needed to be essential and irreplaceable to the team right now or have significant resale value. Preferably both.

As a Brazilian, Esteves has the potential to get interest from European clubs. With Bassett’s loan termination, the Rapids don’t yet have the international reputation to drive that price up even further. Could Esteves be worth $3-4 million in two years? Maybe. Can the Rapids shop elsewhere in South America or within MLS to get a left back who’s as good as Esteves now and still has upside? Yes. Can Pádraig Smith find a way to sign that player for a less than $2 million evaluation? Absolutely.

What it means going forward?

So what does this mean for the rest of the offseason? First, I have to think the club made this decision confident that they will be re-signing Steven Beitashour. This could be an opportunity for Anthony Markanich to establish himself in 2023. While I don’t think he’s ready yet, there’s also Homegrown Jackson Travis who spent most of the year injured with Rapids 2. Multiple Rapids Academy staff have told me Travis is the highest potential left back they’ve had in the DA other than Sam Vines.

With this decision out of the way, Colorado will turn to a resolution with free agent Gyasi Zardes. Not buying Esteves could free up money for that, another midfielder, or attacking support elsewhere should Zardes not be retained.

Looking with MLS for potential replacements, Matt Real’s been a great sub option for Philadelphia Union but won’t be a starter there as long as Kai Wagner is there. $500K in GAM with some incentives should be enough. Zan Kolmanic has looked good for Austin FC, but that’s a position Verde might be open to spending more on to upgrade. Chris Gloster was a regular for the US U20s and probably isn’t starting for NYCFC next year. The same could be said for Noah Allen with Inter Miami.

Who would you like to see start for Colorado at left back next year? Do you think they should sign someone? Let us know in the comments.