Sebastian Blanco set to leave Portland Timbers

by Charlie Folkestad

Portland Timbers midfielder Sebastián Blanco will leave the club, according to reports from TyC Sports’ Juli Michels on Sunday, Jan. 2.

Blanco, who will turn 34 in March 2022, made 148 appearances for Portland since joining the club in 2017. His contract expired at the end of the 2021 season. The club was working on re-signing Blanco as soon as the offseason began.

Blanco posted a foreboding message on his Instagram story earlier in the day.

According to Micheles’ report, the Timbers were close to reaching an agreement before it fell through. Blanco may land somewhere else in MLS, where he’s been prolific for the past five seasons.

If the report is true, Portland will have an open Designated Player roster spot heading into 2022.

** 1/2/22 update **

ESPN’s Taylor Twellman has added more context to the Blanco situation.

As with Diego Valeri a few years ago, the Timbers are looking to sign a former DP to a targeted allocation money-level deal. 

** another 1/2/22 update **

Area Sports Network has confirmed the report and added a little more context. Apparently negotiations for a three-year deal were different than what the contract read.

The same account replied to that above tweet saying:

From the player’s side, they express total surprise, and this week they will begin to evaluate options, always with MLS as the main option.”

Looks like the deal blindsided Blanco’s camp and that he could be on the move to somewhere else in MLS. 

** another 1/2/22 update **

Timbers owner Merritt Paulson weighs in on the situation, saying “we expect to keep him” on Instagram.

This statement might quiet the rumors a bit because Paulson has to be aware of the smoke from earlier today (see above). If MP has this kind of confidence after everything from earlier, maybe that’s a good sign.

** 1/3 update **

Paulson has deleted the above comment. Maybe he’s backtracking a bit?

** 1/4 update **

A report from El Espectador says Blanco is being pursued by Boca Juniors.

This is probably leverage-building by Blanco’s camp. Releasing these reports is commonplace in a situation where a player’s value is in question. Whether or not this interest from Boca is legitimate, it can help drive up Blanco’s value in negotiations with MLS teams.

This article may be updated with further information.

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