Jozy Altidore's rumored move to MLS is going...we don't really know where for sure...fast.
On January 7, we got news from Taylor Twellman that Altidore was talking to the league, and the New York Red Bulls were one of three teams chasing his signature - Toronto FC and Portland Timbers were the other two.
By January 9, we were being told RBNY was out of the Altidore race, since it lacked either the will or the ability to kick in the cash necessary to meet his salary demands or whatever sort of transfer fee Sunderland might require.
Today, January 12, Goal.com is reporting RBNY is still in the hunt. Now Portland is reported to have dropped out.
Over in the UK, the story was Sunderland and Toronto have been haggling over the details of an Altidore-for-Jermain-Defoe swap.
In part because of Altidore's struggles to do much of anything at Sunderland, the club arguably needs a proven Premiership striker more than cash. Toronto has such an asset, but is - according to the Daily Mail - paying him more than even an EPL team deems sensible. Those bloody big wages are apparently a bloody big problem for the Black Cats.
Nonetheless, Toronto would appear to have something Sunderland wants, and the wherewithal to meet Altidore's wage demands, at least if it can offload Defoe.
What is RBNY bringing to this negotiation? The Goal.com report suggests the Canadian tax rate means Altidore's actual income wouldn't be quite as stellar in Toronto, so the Red Bulls' low-ball (we assume) offer isn't as far away as previously imagined. And every observer seems to assume Altidore quite likes the idea of a fresh start at his old club, where he can at least be assured of a warm welcome.
That doesn't quite explain how RBNY is getting Sunderland's attention in all of this. There is no Defoe-equivalent on the table from Red Bull as far as we know. One assumes the TFC offer is in some way contingent on offloading Defoe, hence the presence of a second-bidder on the MLS side. Whether that second bid will be as compelling to Sunderland and Altidore as some of the options he reportedly has in other parts of Europe is a different question entirely.
There is also the matter of MLS's allocation rankings: TFC and Portland are ahead of RBNY on that list. But the allocation order mean little for a player of Altidore's unquestionable benefit to MLS's commercial priorities. If he wants in, and the league is prepared to afford him, a place will be found for him at whatever team is most palatable to him.
And then MLS will find a way to frame the move in terms that just about align with its published rules. Or say "blind draw" and move on. Or, since ESPN FC is reporting MLS is apparently keen to be seen to be following its own rules again, force clubs to trade something (like...if only the league had an entirely opaque asset that doesn't really cost anyone anything but can be ascribed a value and provide the appearance of being tradeable...it could be called "allocation money", because it would be almost as meaningless as the allocation ranking) to move up the order for the sake of keeping up appearances.
From what we are being told, RBNY is not offering the most compelling deal to Sunderland or Altidore. Why should we think this club has any real shot at winning this transfer fight with TFC? One man has a thought...
@canetop Because its Toronto and they'll mess it up?— Aaron Bauer (@ABauer_ATR) January 12, 2015