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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

RSL exercises Savarino option, turns focus to Lennon, Beckerman, Rimando

Mike Petke expresses his gratitude for the support of Real Salt Lake fans after the club narrowly missed the playoffs.

Real Salt Lake coach Mike Petke was thrilled with the news that his team had exercised its option on Jefferson Savarino.

Savarino, 20, joined RSL on loan from Zulia FC in his native Venezuela for the 2017 campaign and the club announced on Thursday that it had signed the winger to a permanent contract that keeps him as one of the team's young designated players.

Petke, who took over after the team fired Jeff Cassar three games into the season, oversaw a second-half run that almost earned RSL a spot in the playoffs on the final day of the regular season.

And Petke believes the arrival of Savarino was a big reason for that turnaround after poor results from a woeful 2016 season lingered into 2017.

Petke said in a statement: "Jefferson was a big part of the reason for the turnaround. What he brings to the field, the dynamic play, his ability to unlock defenses and get forward, the mentality and his ability to combine with Albert [Rusnak] and Luis [Silva].

"He has been huge for us. In the long run, I think Jefferson is going to go down as one of the best that we've had."

Savarino, who has been in his country's national team picture during recent call-ups, said he's already looking forward to next season and helping to advance RSL's project under Petke in 2018.

"I feel content being here. I'm happy to be here in Utah and I always thank God for being here," Savarino told "I'm a person who is never content with what I have accomplished.

"Now it is time to prepare and I will prepare the best that I can during our time off to keep growing as person and as a professional."

Savarino action RSL vs Seattle
RSL have signed 2017 loanee Jefferson Savarino to a permanent deal as a young DP.

RSL general manager Craig Waibel said the team will now focus on the futures of Brooks Lennon and long-serving club standouts Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando as it looks ahead to 2018.

Lennon, whose one-year loan from Liverpool expired at the end of the season, is part of a skilfull group of wingers including Savarino and Joao Plata that the team is trying to keep in Salt Lake.

"We still have one more negotiation here to get done to feel really good about our wings," Waibel said. "I think our wing position is the deepest we have because I think we have four guys that can all start."

Regarding Beckerman and Rimando, Waibel added: "Currently I'm working through some negotiations with guys we're trying to re-sign and looking forward to the next couple pieces of what we'd like to add to make this group a little more special.

"The first step for me is taking care of everything in our own house. We're in the middle of it. We'll have a lot of answers within the week, two weeks.

"As soon as that's done, we start to pull out the binoculars and look across the horizon at the next couple pieces."

Meanwhhile, RSL striker Yura Movsisyan said this week that he was not willing to sit on the bench again this season. The designated player scored seven goals in 28 games, but he only started in 16 appearances.

"Being at stage that I am, I'm not going to come back and sit on the bench again," said Movsisyan, who has two guaranteed years left on his contract. "For sure I can say that that's not going to happen.

"So they can decide, and my representatives can decide with them, but it's definitely not good enough."

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