On Tuesday night, reports from multiple sources surfaced stating that the Philadelphia Union has reached an agreement with MLS Best XI left-back Kai Wagner that will keep the German in blue and gold long term.
Wagner is here to stay
After his contract expired with Philadelphia after the 2023 season, Wagner entered free agency and reportedly received offers from European clubs like AEK Athens and Red Star Belgrade, but ultimately Philadelphia and Wagner were able to come to an agreement that keeps a strong Philadelphia backline intact for years to come.
As reported by Jonathan Tannenwald at the Philadelphia Inquirer, the new contract with Keep Kai Wagner in a Union shirt through the 2026 season, with an option for 2027. The deal shows a real sense of commitment to back the Left Back after swirling rumors of him leaving for Europe almost every transfer window in the last few seasons.
Union retains the best left-back in MLS
Since being plucked out of the lower divisions of German football, Wagner has played an integral part in Philly’s success and consistency over the last few seasons by contributing 5 goals and 41 assists across 147 matches in MLS play.
Wagner’s 15 assists in the 2022 campaign were the most by a defender in MLS History, landing him in that season’s MLS Best XI and helping take the Union to their first-ever MLS Cup appearance. Besides Andre Blake, Kai Wagner is the only Philadelphia player to be named an MLS All-Star more than once.
The Kai Wagner saga seems to be over
The reported re-signing comes after a rollercoaster of the previous 6 months for all parties involved. From Wagner’s seemingly deliberate and thought-out social media posts to thousands of Union fans chanting for Sporting Director Ernst Tanner to “Pay Kai Wagner”, to Ernst Tanner (allegedly) getting into a verbal altercation with a fan over the matter at Subaru Park, to Kai’s Racial Slur Suspension in the playoffs, and his posts training in Union gear during the off-season – this story has truly seen it all.
But to some, Wagner still has a lot of work to do to gain their full trust and support back, which I think is justified. Wagner exhibited behavior that is not acceptable by any means. While I’m not above people learning from their mistakes and becoming a better person, I do think real, thoughtful work needs to be put in to restore the good faith Philly fans once had in him.
Many may never understand why Philly was so set on moving on from Kai Wagner even before the Racial Slur allegation, and why they’ve decided to backpedal on that decision since. But regardless of your thoughts on the matter, Wagner undoubtedly makes this Union team better, that’s one thing that’s not up for debate in this story. It’ll be interesting to see if Kai feels further apologizing and repair is in order, and how his teammates, coaches, and fans respond.
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Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Union