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As Cyle Larin keeps scoring goals, Orlando City draws closer to tough decision

Goal.com logo Goal.com 17-05-2017

ORLANDO, Fla. — European interest in Canadian striker Cyle Larin continues to grow, with scouts coming to see him play, and at least two teams making recent offers for the services of the 22-year-old. As much as Larin is a centerpiece of Orlando City's current squad, the Lions wouldn't necessarily stand in the way of a transfer if the right deal came along.

Goal reported Friday that a pair of transfer offers had been made for Larin, and while a move isn't imminent, it sounds as though Orlando isn't opposed to the possibility of selling its leading scorer under the right circumstances.

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"From my point of view it's a real balancing act," Orlando coach Jason Kreis told Goal. "We don't want to be a club that's going to hold players back from opportunities, but we're also a club that is trying to identify ourselves — trying to become a winning club, trying to show our fans that this matters to us, and we're not just here selling tickets and are out here to have fun.

"We're here to build something special, we're here to succeed and part of that is keeping your good players."

Larin has been Orlando's leading scorer since his MLS Rookie of the Year season in 2015. He has scored 38 goals in 69 matches with the club, and is on an early pace for a career year.

Larin's young age, goal-scoring record, and combination of size, strength and quickness have interest growing among European scouts, but that doesn't mean a transfer is taking place any time soon.

"From our point of view, I think that we have a player that has several more years left on his contract, who's doing well, that other clubs want, but so what? We want him too," Kreis said. "For us, it's a situation where if everything were to fall in to place, and Cyle was to want to go, and we were to get the money we wanted, and et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, then it wouldn't be something that we're going to say absolutely no to. But I think that we are going to take a real dim view of doing anything too quickly."

One key component of any potential transfer for Larin is the securing of a sizeable transfer fee, and sources tell Goal that the two most recent transfer offers put in for Larin were actually smaller than an offer Orlando rejected a year earlier. Of course, those offers are likely to grow once the summer transfer window opens in July, especially if he keeps up his current goal-scoring rate.

For Larin's part, he isn't letting the transfer talk distract him from what has already been an outstanding season.

"If there's interest in me then I take it as a compliment because it means you're doing something right, but I'm not thinking about that," Larin told Goal after his goal-scoring effort in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Sporting Kansas City. "I let my agents deal with that stuff. I'm happy here, and I'm focused on winning with Orlando City."

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Larin has been a key figure in Orlando's turnaround this season, and he is currently just one goal behind league co-leaders Erick Torres and Nemanja Nikolic. What scouts are seeing is the same thing opponents are seeing, an impressive young striker who is rapidly improving, but already showing the qualities of a reliable goal-scorer.

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"Obviously (Larin's) athletic and all that stuff, but what he does really well is in and around the box he's got really good movement," Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes told Goal. "Like that goal he scored (on Saturday), we showed I don't know how many clips of that movement (to our players) and he still finds it. A lot of guys do that and they're offside. His timing is good, but he also uses his athleticism in a really smart way and his movement in the box is fantastic."

How much longer Larin will stay in MLS remains to be seen, but as things stand now, sources tell Goal that there are no offers on the table anywhere close to being good enough to pry the striker away from an Orlando team aiming to reach the MLS playoffs for the first time.

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