Could Lee Nguyen be in line for a lucrative deal this winter?
According to a source, V-League side Hanoi T & T FC is willing to offer the Revolution midfielder “seven figures” to return to Vietnam, where he played from 2009-2011.
Nguyen, who was shortlisted for MVP consideration in 2014, is being heavily pursued by Hanoi T & T after he put together an 18-goal, 5-assist campaign for the Revolution. The 18 goals were the most for a pure midfielder in MLS history. His nine game-winning goals were tops in the league.
On Thursday, Hanoi T & T PR Manager Nguyen Quoc Tuan told VietNamnet Bridge that the club was willing to pay “high prices” to bring Nguyen back to Vietnam. Nguyen was a national celebrity during his time in Vietnam, leading many media types to dub him the “David Beckham of Vietnam.”
“We are very impressed with the performances of Lee Nguyen in MLS the last season. In the plan for V-League 2015, Hanoi T & T wants to have him as our key player,” Tuan told VietNamnet Bridge. “We will assure him that we will pay him more than what he earns in the US.”
Hanoi T & T isn’t the only team looking to pursue Nguyen. Because he holds a Vietnamese passport, he’s also drawn interest from sides in Japan and Korea. In October, EPL side Southampton FC also inquired about Nguyen’s services.
Though the figure that Hanoi T & T is willing to give Nguyen would far exceed the $175,000 base salary that he earned in 2014 – and is scheduled to earn again in 2015 – it’s worth noting that the veteran midfielder originally left the V-League after 2011 to get on the radar of U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.
In October, Nguyen received his first call-up since 2007 ahead of the U.S.’s friendly against the Colombia. He came on in the 78th minute and created a handful of attacking opportunities against the fourth-ranked squad during his late cameo. Nguyen is expected to be a part of next month’s National Team camp, which will commence on Jan. 12.
Nguyen’s 2014 base salary ($175,000) is the lowest by a large margin compared to his fellow MVP candidates. MVP winner Robbie Keane earned $4.5 million in 2014, while Obafemi Martins commanded a $1.62 million base salary. That million dollar-plus disparity could prompt Nguyen to seek a deal commensurate to his contributions.
Nguyen is currently under contract for 2015, with an option for 2016.