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Rumors: Silly season in full swing

It took a while to get here, but the soccer transfer silly season has finally started to embrace the New York Red Bulls...

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Rafael Suanes-USA TODAY Sports

Things move fast in silly season, that time of the soccer year when the transfer window is open and rumors start to whizz around, not always for the benefit of the general public. Club executives read the news too: a well-timed reminder of a particular player's contract status and desire to move is a quick way for an agent (or team trying to offload unwanted personnel) to spread the word.

That would appear to be the primary motivation behind a report linking Tottenham Hotspur's Emmanuel Adebayor to MLS and, in one case, the New York Red Bulls. Adebayor is reportedly Spurs' highest-paid player, which explains the club's incentive to put him in the shop window. Whether MLS has the spending power to entice him out of a contract worth (it is said) about $150,000 per week is another matter.

Still, he has been linked to Toronto FC (who appear to be on the hunt for just about any big-name striker they can think of at the moment) and Seattle Sounders - though neither suggestion appears to be a great deal more compelling than the flimsy connection to RBNY made by HereIsTheCity.com based on nothing more than the questionable assertion that the Red Bulls need a replacement for Thierry Henry.

Such logic will be deployed often until and unless RBNY does fill up its quota of Designated Players, despite the fact we don't really know whether the club is truly in the market for star signings.

The news that the Red Bulls are chasing Jozy Altidore and Sacha Kljestan would imply the team does have a renewed interest in stocking up on stars.

But ESPN FC has reported RBNY has dropped out of the Altidore race because the player's salary demands (said to be in the $5-6 million range) paired with whatever fee Sunderland might want for a guy they paid $10 million for in 2013 is too much for a team that had Thierry Henry on its books for around $4 million last season. ESPN's report suggested RBNY had already backed away from Altidore once before over concerns about his value relative to that of Henry.

Such logic appears a little skewed: Altidore is certainly no Henry, but he started his career with the Red Bulls, is a key component of the US Men's National Team under Jurgen Klinsmann, and is young enough (25) that he could feasibly have significant transfer value if his form picks up sufficiently to banish the memory of a desultory stint in England ("hailed as one of the worst strikers in Premier League history" says the Daily Telegraph, in an article that also goes out of its way to throw shade on Bradley Wright-Phillips).

He would pack a significant marketing punch in the US, and arguably just needs to bank a couple of high-performance seasons somewhere to get back into the frame with another top tier European club - to whom he could be sold for the sort of money international players in their prime can fetch; something that was never going to be the case with Thierry Henry.

Altidore would be more expensive than Henry, no question - but there simply isn't a player of the (former) captain's ability and achievements available at the salary he was paid (by RBNY) and willing to come MLS. Frank Lampard, Steven Gerrard, Clint Dempsey, Michael Bradley: all lesser players than Henry, all earning or set to earn more than Henry in MLS.

If it's Henry-comparable signings or bust for RBNY on the DP front, we may as well ignore all future big-money transfer rumors until Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo or Zlatan Ibrahimovic start seriously pondering moving to the US.

But that is a discussion for another day. The silly season is still young. It would appear the Altidore-to-RBNY rumor is dead, or at least on the wane. The talk about Adebayor looks like little more than a cry for help from Tottenham.

Still, no one has yet stepped forward to crush the Kljestan chatter. And, as a former teammate of Jesse Marsch, he may have some idea what the coach is talking about when he describes his tactical vision as having the properties of an energy drink. The rest of the squad could likely use some help figuring that out.

The Red Bulls' silliest season of all could well start in March if the coach doesn't find a way to express his tactical plans in less flagrantly ridiculous terms.