With many of the title races in Europe's top leagues all but decided, we're reached the time of the year when the proverbial “silly season” cranks up in anticipation of the international transfer window's arrival this summer.
But when media reports in the club's own backyard place a past Sueño MLS winner on Spanish superpower FC Barcelona's radar, it's worth taking note.
On Tuesday, Barcelona-based publication Mundo Deportivo, citing “some Argentine media,” posted a report claiming that River Plate striker Gabriel Funes Mori is back in the Catalan club's crosshairs as a transfer target.
The Argentina-born, Texas-raised No. 9 was River Plate's leading scorer during the first half of the 2012-13 season and has been linked to Barça and other European powers like AC Milan in the past. But he first rose to prominence as the winner of the 2008 Sueño MLS competition, which earned him a spot in FC Dallas' youth academy.
That opportunity quickly led to a trial with England's Chelsea FC. While Funes Mori did not catch on with the Blues, members of River Plate's staff spotted him and both he and his twin brother Ramiro soon joined the renowned Buenos Aires club and rapidly rose through the ranks.
Funes Mori played for Argentina's U-20 side and made an appearance for the senior team in a friendly against Brazil last year, but US national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann reportedly took notice of Funes Mori last winter and invited him to switch allegiance to the US.
Funes Mori turns 22 later this year and probably isn't quite the finished product yet. But if he does wind up at Barcelona, he'll be the first player with American ties to join the Blaugrana's senior squad.