HARRISON, N.J. – Gérard Houllier made a rare appearance at Red Bull Arena on Friday, and talk after the morning training session naturally shifted where it always does when the team’s head of global football shows up: the club’s pursuit of a third Designated Player.
And despite past hints that the team would actively chase a creative attacking midfielder, head coach Mike Petke insinuated that the club is wary of signing a No. 10-style player because it would force a change in the Red Bulls’ established 4-4-2 system.
That’s not to say the Red Bulls are not in the market for a creative attacker, but it does mean that the club will have to feel a player is an absolute perfect fit in order to offer him a contract this summer.
“If a player pops up, a creative attacking midfielder that makes sense, but then again when we talk about the term 'creative attacking midfielder' [and] that sort of changes the way that we play then, so it's not that easy,” Petke said.
“It's definitely something we've discussed a lot and something that ultimately could and possibly will happen, whether it's now, next month, next year. But hopefully in my time here, however long that is, we can fit someone like that in our system and maybe tweak our system a little bit."
Part of what may have changed the club’s mindset with regards to signing a creative attacking midfielder is the play of Péguy Luyindula. The veteran Frenchman has picked up where he left off last year, showing he can add some creativity and imagination to the middle of the park for the Red Bulls.
Luyindula does not fill the No. 10 role, but he is an offensive-minded No. 8 that brings more possession and a different dimension to New York’s attack. Still, the fact that 34-year-old Luyindula has no assists this season has some clamoring for a younger creative midfielder.
Whether that happens this season remains to be seen, but Petke said as of right now there are no significant talks with regards to acquiring a third Designated Player.
"All day long I could say, ‘I want this guy, I want that guy, spend this money, spend that money,'" said Petke. "At the end of the day, it's not my checkbook and it's not my ultimate decision.
"Mr. Houllier is a brilliant soccer mind, so I don't need to tell him who we need or what we need. I could definitely offer my opinion, which he's always loved and him and [sporting director Andy Roxburgh] always want, but at the end of the day we're not talking at this moment DPs or anything.
“It could be shortly, it could be soon or it could be next year. With the big World Cup year here right now, I'm sure there's going to be a lot of people on the move after the World Cup. We'll figure that out as we go."
Franco Panizo covers the New York Red Bulls for MLSsoccer.com. He can be reached by e-mail at Franco8813@gmail.com.