The latest high profile footballer to be linked with the Red Bulls is Hamburg midfielder Ze Roberto. According to German newspaper Bild, the Red Bulls offered Ze Roberto a three-year deal worth $5 million per year. The deal apparently would include Ze Roberto acting as a Red Bull ambassador in his home city of Sao Paolo during the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympics which are being held in Brazil. Today, however, head coach Hans Backe dismissed the rumor as, well, a rumor. From BigAppleSoccer:
"I think it's only rumors," Backe said. "All of this. I have many, many names coming up for that kind of star players. I can be honest. It's only rumors. Definitely."
So, according to Backe, Ze Roberto won't be gracing the pitch at Red Bull Arena any time soon. Dating back the MetroStar days, this franchise would be able to put together an all-star team of players rumored to be coming to town. David Beckham, Ronaldo, and Paolo Maldini were all linked at one point. More recently, Real Madrid's Raul was mentioned, and of course, Theirry Henry (although this one seems to make the most sense, and one day might actually happen.) Now, add Ze Roberto to the list.
The real question is, how much does Ze Roberto have left? He'll be 36 in July, which means that at the end of a 3 year contract he'd be 39. There's no doubt that he's a class player, anyone with 86 caps for Brazil is a fantastic talent. After a long stint with German giants Bayern Munich, he is enjoying a productive season with Hamburg, who sits in fifth place in the Bundesliga.
So far for the Red Bulls in preseason, new signing Joel Lindpere has been solid as a central midfielder. Lindpere has experience playing both centrally and out on the left flank. With Lindpere in the middle, a void opens up on the left side, and it remains to be seen who can play there effectively. If the Red Bulls were to add a player of Ze Roberto's character, Lindpere could slot out left, and the Red Bulls instantly become better and deeper. Inserted into the lineup right now, Ze Roberto would be a great fit. The concern would be the length of the deal, and what he might look like at age 39. Although it looks like this is just another big-name-to-New York rumor, you never know.