We're starting to get a feel for the New York Red Bulls' off-season's favorite stories.
Today's news that RBNY rebuffed Orlando City's offer of $225,000 in allocation money plus some draft picks in exchange for Dax McCarty echoes earlier news that the Red Bulls declined a $300,000 allocation money offer for Ryan Meara. Conclusion: teams in MLS think RBNY wants a lot of allocation money; the Red Bulls seem disinclined to confirm the suspicion at the moment.
We also have a Steven Gerrard rumor swirling around, unlikely to go away until or unless the Liverpool captain signs a new contract with his current club, or provides a definitive public statement of his future plans.
And there is the Shaun Wright-Phillips rumor, which has been bouncing around for several months now. SWP, for those unfamiliar, is 33, plays on the wing, was a Premier League stalwart in his prime, is still on an EPL roster, and has won an impressive number of England caps (36) and trophies (two FA Cups, a Premier League title, one League Cup and a Community Shield).
In February, he said he'd love to play in MLS - and alongside his brother, no less - before he retired. He also said his sibling, Bradley Wright-Phillips, was doing "really well", which wasn't quite the case for BWP at the time (he was coming off an injury-disrupted half-season of scant appearances and fleeting promise for RBNY). But let it pass. SWP wants to play in the US, with his brother; we know this because he said so.
BWP opened up a little about his relationship with SWP, on and off the field, in June. And for much of this season, almost every story written about BWP's exploits for RBNY appears to have featured some mention of his more famous sibling, as MLS struggled to figure out how to handle the emergence of a star who was neither groomed by the league itself or parachuted in fully-formed from a more glamorous part of soccer's firmament.
We've been hearing about Shaun Wright-Phillips a lot. Brace yourself: we'll probably be hearing about him a lot more over the next few weeks.
Givemesport.com has published a piece on December 16 titled "Shaun Wright-Phillips ready to end QPR hell by switching to MLS".
Seems pretty clear. It is also not particularly fresh: the piece links to a 12-day-old post on a French website, mercato365.com, which is itself referencing a one-line mention in a transfer rumor round-up published by the Daily Star on December 4.
And the Star appears to have been picking up on a short piece by talkSPORT suggesting SWP will be a transfer target for MLS clubs in the summer of 2015, when his current contract with Queens Park Rangers runs out.
It's not that the transfer rumor doesn't hold water: SWP did say he wanted to play in the US, with his brother; he is out of contract soon; he isn't getting time for QPR. And he's earning a lot of money - GBP 60,000 per week according to reports - which has apparently stymied at least two attempts to send him out on loan. So not only does SWP want to come to MLS, one suspects QPR would very much like to get him off their books sooner rather than later.
The January transfer window is approaching, and it stands to reason that either SWP or QPR - probably both - would like to test the market for his services. Even if they don't, there is almost too much circumstantial evidence for the possibility of a SWP-to-RBNY transfer for any writer to resist - despite the fact that evidence has been lying around since at least February (Shaun wasn't getting much playing time for QPR last season either).
One thing that has changed, and which appears to have breathed life into the rumor's latest incarnation: BWP scored a bunch of goals for RBNY and got himself a pay rise for his troubles. The news of BWP's Designated Player contract with RBNY broke on December 3rd. The talkSPORT piece which seems to be at the root of the current SWP rumor landed on December 3rd.
Coincidence? Perhaps. Though some noticed a correlation at the time.
BWP gets a DP contact with #RBNY. SWP sittin' at home thinking "maybe it's time I get some of that MLS money".
— Mike Newell (@FootballSaves) December 3, 2014
And the media is catching up.
Add SWP to the list of off-season rumors we'll likely be hearing a lot about as the January transfer window creaks open.
Will Shaun join brother Bradley at RBNY? Is that a good idea for the rebuilding Red Bulls? Questions we should perhaps save until this deal seems a little more imminent and a little less like the fanciful concoction of a player's agent or a club hoping to trim its payroll.