We seem to be entering a period of soccer transfer silliness where pretty much any soon-to-be-out-of-contract or out-of-favor player in Serie A (or more likely, their agents) is finding a way to connect himself to a move to MLS. And many of those choose to connect themselves to the New York Red Bulls.
The latest in a growing band of allegedly NY-curious Italian soccer stars (Daniele De Rossi, Antonio Di Natale, and Cristian Ledesma being the foremost members of the steadily expanding group) is Cristian Zaccardo.
Zaccardo would fill a (current) position of need for RBNY: he is a versatile defender. And in principle, he represents the sort of experienced, high-level defensive leadership one might argue the team's remodeling back line could use. He was part of the Italy squad that won the 2006 World Cup; he won the Bundesliga title with Wolfsburg in 2009, and returned to Serie A for the 2009-10 season to reunite with Francesco Guidolin (a coach he has repeatedly worked with throughout his career) who was tasked with ensuring Parma's return to top-flight Italian football was a happy one.
Still, his two starts for AC MIlan in Serie A this season have been the team's first two games of February (vs. Parma on 2/1 and vs. Junventus on 2/7) - so maybe he is back in favor with a side that has lost three of its last four league matches.
RBNY head coach Jesse Marsch did recently indicate he's not ruling out adding some big-name, high-priced players to his squad this summer - the club does have two Designated Player spots open.
It would be a little surprising if Zaccardo - who will turn 34 in December and hasn't been a first-team regular for his club since 2012 - turns out to be one of the players brought in to fill RBNY's vacancy for a well-compensated star. But he is said to be out of contract with Milan in 2016, and he might be in the market for a more moderately-priced move at the end of his current season if he continues to struggle for playing time.
He has an impressive pedigree in the game, albeit one increasingly more of the past than the present. And by July, Red Bulls' fans might be crying out for someone to lead the defense. Whether they will be crying out for an Italian who is perhaps best known for an unfortunate own goal is a different question.
Reaching for a guy whose career lowlight echoes one of this club's least-favorite moments would certainly be an unexpected application of the front office's recently acquired enthusiasm for promoting the team's history.
Of course, Zaccardo's error didn't get in the way of his team winning a major trophy. The Curse of Caricola ought not be an issue for this club any more (it's not much of a curse now the trophyless hex is broken), but there could hardly be a more convincing way of stamping it out than winning something with a guy who has experienced similar misfortune on a much bigger stage and was able to put it behind him quickly and decisively.
There aren't many reasons to believe Zaccardo will be a Red Bull any time soon - or ever. But there is at least one reason to find the prospect interesting.