The saga surrounding the Colorado Rapids' pursuit of forward Alan Pulido is inching closer towards a satisfactory conclusion for the MLS club.
The Rapids are lining up a one-year loan for the Mexico international, sources say, but some hurdles remain.
Rapids general manager Paul Bravo was in Greece last week to wrap up the deal, sources confirmed. Pulido has given his blessing to the move with final negotiations between player and club set to take place in the U.S. But there are issues regarding the status of Pulido's International Transfer Certificate.
Pulido's former club, Liga MX side Tigres UANL, has repeatedly said the player signed a two-year contract with them in 2014. Pulido insists that isn't the case, and that he is a free agent, with FIFA and the Court for Arbitration of Sport getting involved.
The 24-year-old was sidelined for several months while the status of his ITC was adjudicated, and the CAS has twice ruled against him. But Pulido was ultimately given a provisional ITC by FIFA in February 2015 that allowed him to move to Greek side Levadiakos.
After scoring once in six appearances, Pulido was sold to Greek giants Olympiakos in the summer. In the interim, Liga MX side Chivas purchased 50 percent of the player's rights from Tigres in the hope that the CAS would ultimately rule in Tigres' favor, but again Pulido opted to play in Europe.
Pulido has since been a big disappointment in Greece, making just two brief appearances in cup matches and failing to score in both, hence his availability on loan to the Rapids.
The upside for Pulido is that he would be guaranteed first-team appearances for a club desperate not only for goals but to take advantage of the commercial appeal of having a current Mexico international in its squad. At the same time, the fact that Pulido would be on loan would mean that his European prospects wouldn't be completely extinguished.
However, the deal would be in jeopardy if Pulido is ultimately found to have been in breach of his contract. In that case, FIFA regulations stipulate damages must be paid to Tigres by the player as well as the club to which he first moved.
The club could also have a transfer ban imposed for two transfer windows. That would appear to put all of the risk on Levadiakos and Pulido.
MLS would request Pulido's ITC from the Greek federation and not Mexico, and that would appear to insulate MLS from getting drawn into the dispute, but MLS will want to be doubly sure that it will not be drawn into a situation where it have to pay monetary damages to Tigres.
The regulations also state that if Pulido is found to have breached his contract, he could be suspended for between four and six months. Sources said that if Pulido is indeed suspended, the loan deal is off.
For these reasons, MLS is treading lightly. Sources said that a meeting took place between MLS and FIFA lawyers on Monday, and that while the meeting was positive, more analysis was required.
"There are some risks," said one source without going into any detail.