Emiliano Rigoni’s disappointing Austin FC career ends with six goals and six assists in 58 appearances over three seasons. (courtesy of Austin FC)

From his appointment in late 2019 to his disgraced resignation in early 2023, Claudio Reyna made some big changes while serving as Austin FC’s first sporting director. And while a handful of those swings – Sebastián Driussi, Brad StoverAND Dani Pereira – tied for moonshots, many more resulted in high-priced whiffs that nearly condemned the club to a multi-year sentence of MLS mediocrity.

On Tuesday, Austin FC finally got rid of Reyna’s biggest and most expensive player when the club announced the contract buyout and subsequent release of the designated player. Emiljano Rigoni.

According to a report from AthleticsRigoni’s contract, valued at just over $2 million per year, contained an irregular (and for ATXFC, disastrous) clause that would have automatically triggered an extension through the 2025 season if Rigoni made at least 12 appearances in MLS in 2024. The 31-year-old veteran winger scored one goal and failed to provide an assist in 11 appearances this season.

Austin FC originally signed Rigoni in July 2022 for a transfer fee of $4 million. It never clicked, as Rigoni had just six goals and six assists in 58 total appearances in Austin.

Oregano can now be added to a sharp list of high-priced former Austin FC flops that also includes Rodney Redes, Cecilio DomínguezAND Tomás Pochettino. Those four, all signed under Reyna, make up the club’s second, third, fourth and fifth most expensive transfers, costing the club $11 million in transfer fees plus millions more in annual wages .

That’s a lot Anthony Precourthis money. Such is the price of bad hires, as Reyna proved for Austin FC. But in parting ways with Rigon, Austin FC can now finally close the book on the Claudio Reyna era once and for all.

Conversely, it can now advance before the prologue of Rodolfo Borrell The era. In his 11 months as ATXFC’s sporting director since leaving Manchester City for Texas, Borrell has mostly had to work his way around the confines of the roster as he waits for some of the club’s finances and roster spots to change. high impact to be released.

Now, Borrell can really get his hands dirty. Rigon’s departure essentially frees up one of Austin FC’s three designated player (DP) spots, which could be used by the type of high-earning, high-impact players Borrell spent three decades working with. Europe.

On Wednesday, multiple media outlets reported that Austin FC had already identified and were closing in on signing Rigon’s replacement in that PD slot: the 25-year-old Ghanaian winger Osman Bukari from the Serbian club Red Star of Belgradefor what would be a club record transfer fee of $7 million.

Bukari scored 21 goals and 13 assists in 67 appearances for Red Star over two title-winning seasons. He has also scored three goals in 16 appearances for Ghana, including at the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Bukari, if signed, will be eligible to join Austin FC on July 18, when the summer transfer window officially opens in MLS.

After back-to-back home wins last week, Austin FC has climbed to No. 3 in the Western Conference standings and could benefit greatly by adding another impact player to the attack.

If nothing else, Austin FC can finally move forward without the ball and chain that was Reyna’s erratic eye for talent (and apparent love of unorthodox contract language) slowing his rotation.

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