With the Designated Player rumor mill seemingly churning at an all-time high, MLSsoccer.com takes a look at six names in the news, the credibility of the rumors and what their signing would mean for the league.
Alessandro Del Piero – The rumors linking the Juventus star with a victory lap spent in MLS go as far back as the beginning of 2009, when the Galaxy were reportedly interested in pairing him with David Beckham. But the new talk that potentially puts him in a Red Bulls uniform makes a bit more sense. Juventus are expected to undergo a roster overhaul this summer and Del Piero could opt for greener pastures and a more starring role in New York, which has an international fan base that would adore him from the first day.
Thierry Henry – Henry and A-Rod patrolling the same Manhattan club scene? The ladies will drink to that. The Frenchman’s arrival in MLS is about as certain as any other plotline set to unfold in 2010, after he’s teased Seattle and New York and been the subject of MLS rumors worldwide for quite some time. The house is betting on an arrival in New York, where his star power should carry some weight with a soccer-savvy market and hopefully should help soccer make a dent in a saturated sports landscape.
Robert Pirès – The French international will be done with Spanish side Villarreal after the season, which makes him a prime candidate to spend his twilight years in MLS. Philadelphia is rumored to be putting out the bait, but will he take it, and will it matter? Despite Pirès’ impressive credentials with the French national team and Arsenal, it’s a little tough to imagine the blue-collar Philly fan base embracing a player who lacks the big-name cache of some of the other rumored DP contemporaries.
Raúl – Offers are reportedly on the table for the Real Madrid legend, and he’s toyed with the idea of playing at least a year in MLS since 2009. His contract runs out at the end of the season, leaving him with the option to retire into Spanish lore or get knocked around at Pizza Hut Park. The Spanish press says he’ll take the latter, with – who else – the Red Bulls in the driver’s seat. The pickup would be a huge one for any team in the league, but it does feel a bit far-fetched at times to imagine it.
David Trezeguet – More than one member of the Sons of Ben supporters group are salivating over the idea of Trezeguet landing in Philly, and the Juventus striker seems at least keen on the idea of finding a new stateside home. His contract ends in 2011, but the same potential roster moves that could jettison Del Piero might claim Trezeguet, whose agent recently hinted that he’s “always a wanted man in the United States.” Trezeguet lacks the sheer star power of Henry, but the signing would be a coup for any team in the league.
Zé Roberto – Finally, we have some time to talk about the Red Bulls. The ties to the Brazilian international begin and end with Dietmar Beiersdorfer, Zé Roberto’s former boss at Hamburger SV who now serves as the top man at Red Bull Salzburg in Austria. Zé Roberto’s been flirting with an MLS career since at least 2008, but he shot down a report linking him to a summer signing with New York in March. Though he’ll appease New York’s Brazilian fan base, he’s not necessarily the marquee player the team might use with their third DP slot.