Back in 2010, Tim Sebastian was a sign of Papa Red Bull's ambition for his newly-minted German soccer team. RB Leipzig was in its second season under its new ownership and new name, and Sebastian was both a local lad - born in Leipzig - and a better class of player than fourth-tier clubs might usually expect to attract. Prior to joining RB Leipzig, Sebastian had spent most of his career with FC Hansa Rostock, yo-yoing between Bundesliga and 2. Bundesliga. And he had one relegation-bound season in Bundesliga with Kalrsruher SC in 2008-09.
Sebastian landed in Leipzig at 26: in the prime of a career as the sort of player who could help a team get out of 2. Bundesliga or try to avoid relegation from the Bundesliga. He was more successful at the former than the latter, but he had never played outside the top two divisions of German soccer in six years as pro, until he joined Papa's RB Leipzig.
For five seasons, Sebastian was a big part of Leipzig's climb through the divisions. But he has found it hard to crack the starting lineup this season. He is 31; Leipzig has reached the winter break in 2. Bundesliga looking like a very solid candidate for promotion this season, and done so largely without Sebastian's help: it is perhaps time to move on.
Who might want an experienced defender who has been attached to Red Bull soccer since 2010 and therefore witness to the RalfBall revolution since its beginning (2012)? The New York Red Bulls, say several outlets in Germany - though Bild notes MLS has yet to approve the deal.
It's a rumor that makes a lot of sense for RBNY and RB soccer in general: the New York club is short a senior defender until or unless Damien Perrinelle returns to fitness and the squad; Sebastian look like he will be short of employment in a few months if he doesn't find a new gig soon; and Ibrahim Sekagya's transfer from Red Bull Salzburg to RBNY in 2013 offers some precedent for optimism about these matters.
"RalfBall" is a term we like to use as a catch-all for Red Bull's current plan for its global soccer set-up. But "synergy" is the buzzword most frequently deployed in general discussion of Papa's ambitions for his footballing operations. If Tim Sebastian arrives in New York, that will be taken as further evidence of that synergy in action.