New York Red Bulls, MLS don't want Kaku transfer certificate released

The New York Red Bulls and MLS have asked the U.S. Soccer Federation not to release the International Transfer Certificate for Kaku, continuing the saga surrounding the attempted signing of the midfielder by Saudi Arabian side Al-Taawoun FC that shows no signs of abating.

League sources also confirmed that the Red Bulls are "pursuing all legal remedies" over the dispute.

- Insider Notebook: Varane on Man Utd's defensive shortlist

On Feb. 1, Al-Taawoun announced the signing of Kaku -- also known as Alejandro Romero Gamarra -- with a video posted on the team's Twitter account accompanied by the hashtag #WelcomeKaku.

But the Red Bulls have maintained that Kaku is still their player, and is still under contract with the club.

"We are aware of the announcement made by Altaawoun FC," the Red Bulls said in a statement to ESPN on Feb. 2. "The New York Red Bulls exercised a club option in Kaku's Major League Soccer contract for the 2021 season, and he remains under contract with Major League Soccer and the New York Red Bulls."

Kaku and his representatives maintain that the option was not exercised, and the player also has the support of the MLS Players Association in the matter. In a letter from MLSPA General Counsel Jon Newman to MLS EVP of Competition and Player Relations Todd Durbin dated Jan. 18, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN, the MLSPA contends that Kaku is out of contract.

An ITC is needed in order for a player to complete a transfer or move to another club.

"Kaku's option notice was sent by NY Red Bulls Sporting Director Denis Hamlett on February 28, 2020, via email to Scott Pearson," the letter reads. "Mr. Hamlett's email attached the option exercise letter and asked Mr. Pearson to '[p]lease share this with the player and let us know if you have any questions.' That email was not copied to Kaku. Despite several requests to MLS for evidence to the contrary, that February 28, 2020 email to Scott Pearson was the sole means of delivery to Kaku of the notice to exercise the 2021 option in his contract.

"You have stated that the option exercise notice was emailed and hand delivered to Kaku. It was not. Despite several requests, MLS has not provided evidence to support its assertion that the notice was delivered to Kaku. Mr. Pearson is not designated as Kaku's authorized representative on his contract, nor has MLS produced any evidence that Mr. Pearson has, in accordance with Section 26.1 of the CBA, signed a form provided by MLS designating him as Kaku's authorized agent."

An attempt to reach Pearson by his LinkedIn page wasn't successful. The MLSPA declined to comment.

According to FIFA's Regulations on the Status and Transfer of Players, within seven days of an ITC being requested, the USSF shall "a) deliver the ITC in favour of the new association and enter the de-registration date of the player; or b) reject the ITC request and indicate in TMS the reason for the rejection, which may be either that the contract between the former club and the professional player has not expired or that there has been no mutual agreement regarding its early termination."

The stance of Al-Taawoun and the Saudi Arabia Football Association is that everything was done above board. On the Diwaniyah television program, Saudi Arabia FA president Yasser Al-Mashal said, "I trust the legal cooperation procedures. I do not think there is a mistake."

Saudi media outlet Dawri Plus stated that the Paraguayan international has "started home quarantine procedures" and "will undergo more physical tests."