By Kevin Kinkead

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Three years ago, Carlos Valdes looked like one of the best signings in Philadelphia Union franchise history.

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The Colombian center half claimed the captain’s armband, won all-star honors, and put in countless high-level performances on the Union backline.

That stellar 2012 season quickly devolved into an unusual turn of events, with short term loans facilitating Valdes’ wish to play at the World Cup. That wish came true, and after the tournament, he made a surprise return to the Union for the second half of the 2014 season.

But things soured quickly, and Valdes went out on loan again after showing up to the first day of Union preseason training one hour late, wearing street clothes.

Finally, after a storybook collection of rumors and reports, Valdes and the Union have agreed to a mutual contract termination.

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This winter, the Colombian center back will come off the books, freeing up some four-hundred thousand dollars in salary.

Philadelphia was not saddled with that financial burden or cap hit while Valdes was on loan this year, but the termination solves one of the biggest budget issues going into next season.

With the Colombian transfer window closing, and the player out of favor at Uruguay’s Nacional, the termination allowed Valdes to return on a free transfer to Independiente Santa Fe in his home country. Sources say the Union agreed to allow that move only if Valdes would consent to terminate his contract in 2016.

Another person close to the situation described the last three years a “circus”, highlighted by complicated dealings that were often financially far apart. There were public disputes on Twitter and conflicting reports coming from four different continents. More often than not, money became the biggest issue during negotiations, and the Union found resistance in collecting loan fees for a player whose rights they partially owned.

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The termination does not affect the Union’s collection of international roster spots, as on-loan players do not count against that number. The team will still have to acquire a slot if it wishes to sign Swiss winger Tranquillo Barnetta, who trained at PPL Park last week.