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How to track Tim Cahill's transfer saga: when the winter window shuts for the primary contenders for his next contract

When is it too late for Cahill to leave the New York Red Bulls? Not as a soon as you might think, depending on where he's headed...

Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Even Tim Cahill is tired of the uncertainty over where Tim Cahill will be playing his club soccer in 2015. Per a (paywalled) report in The Australian:

For days there had been speculation about his future. Various reports had him linked with moves to China and the UAE, even though the fact is, he is still a New York Red Bulls player.
"I am sick of it, to be honest," he confided. "I’d like to say a few things but this is not the time."

Not hard to make it all go away, Tim.

And now that Asian Cup is over, and even Cahill has moved on from celebrating his Socceroos' continental championship... plugging breakfast cereal... can be assumed there is finally time for whatever last decisions need to be made about his future.

Last we heard, Cahill wasn't short of options: clubs in China, Qatar and UAE have been reported to be in line for his signature. He doesn't appear to have much of a future with RBNY - not after a series of off-the-record comments made it plain that neither player nor club is too enamored at the proposition of seeing through the terms of Cahill's current contract (he still has 2015 to run with the Red principle).

What he does have, however, is time.

The January transfer window closes 2 in England and Scotland - but we don't believe Cahill is looking at a move to either of those countries. Most of Europe's big leagues will be out of his reach after 2/2, though if he's willing to consider Switzerland (February 16), Russia (February 27), Norway or Sweden (March 31), or even Finland (May 6), he need be in no panic.

More importantly, the clubs it has been reported have shown serious interest in RBNY's 2013 MVP are mostly based in leagues where the transfer window isn't closing too soon.

Australia's A-League would dearly love to have a national team hero in its ranks, though Cahill has consistently talked down any suggestion he is thinking about returning home in the near future. The Australian winter window shuts on February 3, so it will be the first contender crossed off the list of possible destinations if a deal isn't announced shortly.

United Arab Emirates' Al Wahda FC has been reported as a front-runner for Cahill's signature. Any UAE club has until February 12 to bring new players in during this window.

If that doesn't work out, and there is still no deal announced, turn attention to Qatar, where no specific club has been named, but reports have suggested there is interest - and the window is open until February 18.

Finally, there has been suggestion Chinese heavyweights Guangzhou Evergrande and Shanghai Shenhua have been thinking about signing up a Socceroo. Clubs in China have until February 27 to get their winter deals done.

And, of course, almost any league has no restriction on signing a player who is out of contract - so if Cahill is trying to get released by RBNY, he may be operating on a different set of assumptions altogether.

Chances are whatever is going to happen gets settled relatively quickly: a 35-year-old soccer player, even one who just made the team of the tournament in Asian Cup, is not well served by a prolonged period of inactivity; the longer a season progresses, the less likely clubs will be tripping over themselves for a big name signing (since the summer will bring freshly expired contracts and new options). So Cahill is likely to want get this matter settled quickly.

The bigger question is how motivated RBNY is to try to squeeze some value out of any transfer for its want-away Australian - and whether it is inclined to play chicken with the winter transfer windows in Asia's big leagues to get whatever it is seeking.