Caden Clark will return to the New York Red Bulls on loan through the 2022 season from German side RB Leipzig (Credit: New York Red Bulls)

The New York Red Bulls announced Wednesday morning that Caden Clark will return in 2022. The Minnesota native, who signed with German side RB Leipzig last year, will remain in Harrison on loan through the 2022 season. That doesn’t mean the terms of the deal are simple to follow though.

Here’s what is clear; New York is getting a midfielder they really need. In his first full professional season in Major League Soccer, Clark scored four goals and five assists in 24 matches while logging 1,509 total minutes. Last June, RBNY sold Clark to Leipzig for what was likely a multi-million dollar transfer fee (though fans never found out the actual amount).

The terms of the agreement aren’t simple. Sports Illustrated already nailed the description with the headline “Red Bulls Reacquire Caden Clark on Loan in the Most MLS Way Possible”.

New York needed to make it’s latest transaction involving general allocation money (GAM) this offseason to make the deal happen. Since Clark is now technically an ex-MLS player, the Red Bulls paid both Toronto FC and FC Cincinnati to jump up in the MLS allocation list. Toronto made off with $575,000 in GAM while FCC walked away with $100,000.

To recap, RBNY had to pay over one million just to get their own player back, on loan, from a team within their own global organization.

Clark also signed an extension on his contract with Leipzig as part of the deal, but the loan with New York will also have an extension option after 2022. He will immediately join the team at training camp in Southern California, where they are set to begin a three-game friendly tournament on Thursday.

Clark is undoubtedly the biggest name on the roster currently. This is a team without mega stars. Many of the players who won Supporter’s Shields in the last decade have departed. In terms of star value, Clark is the brightest name on the roster. However he is still young and that’s the only reason he’s back in New York. The soon-to-be 19-year-old is not ready for the German Bundesliga. While he finished 2020 and started 2021 as the hottest thing around, Clark slowed down as time went on. An appendectomy sidelined him for about a month last summer. After that, he couldn’t find starts on Gerhard Struber’s already loan-stacked roster.

However, Clarks return along with the full-time signing of Carlos Coronel are promising signs that the team knew what worked last year. Tom Edwards is also reportedly on his way back to the team from Stoke City as well.

Once A Metro’s article on Clark’s return summed it up pretty well; “Though the losses of Sean Davis and Kyle Duncan to free agency and Andrew Gutman to loan expiration will sting, the club has learned enough from last season’s rebuilding to commit to more permanent assets ahead of 2022.” RBNY experimented heavily last season with loan players. Struber and the front office kept what they could/wanted to from that side. The roster this year is made more of concrete and can be built with rather than upon.

For Clark whose future is in Europe, this time in New York is his chance to continue preparing for that. He can show both New York and Germany he is a piece to be built with rather than upon.

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