Brace yourself: the summer transfer window is approaching, and it brings with it fresh rumors as contracts expire and players around the world seek leverage for new deals.
If our experience of the January window has anything to teach us, it is that several of those rumors will come out of Serie A. Toronto FC's willingness to throw big money at Sebastian Giovinco did not escape the attention of players and agents involved in figuring out ways to get the upper hand in negotiations with Serie A clubs.
Indeed, some of the names that inserted themselves into MLS's off-season conversation at the start of the year are still being linked (or are linking themselves) to a move to North American soccer.
Antonio Di Natale, for example, has yet to resolve his future with Udinese. Back in February, there was talk of him moving to "New York". It was rumor denied at the time by all three of the New York pro clubs likely to have the profile and spending power necessary to lure Di Natale to the big city.
But the rumor is still out there. Multiple Italian outlets have reported recently that Di Natale is currently in talks over whether or not to extend his contract with Udinese or make a move to "MLS" - specifically, to the Cosmos.
It is fair to assume the Italian media cares not at all about the distinction between NASL and MLS, and the Cosmos did reveal there had been contact between the club and Di Natale at the end of February. So it seems safe to abandon the notion of Di Natale suiting up for the New York Red Bulls, but perhaps we ought not to entirely dismiss the possibility of him turning up in America some time in the not-too-distant future.
The other on-again-off-again rumor to have revived recently is that suggesting Daniele De Rossi may be MLS-bound.
This too seems far-fetched, since De Rossi is famously the most highly paid player in Serie A, his contract was reported as running for five years back in 2012 (so it's not expiring any time soon), and he's a Roma lifer.
He's said some nice things about the USA in the past, even saying he wants to live here one day, but that's about all the reason to believe he might be moving to MLS - and chances are De Rossi will be able to choose wherever he wants to live after he retires.
So De Rossi to MLS rumors probably should not be indulged, despite the fact they have been lingering for several months now. The most recent iteration was in mid-March, when MLS's own website linked to an article in Corriere dello Sport, which spoke of interest in the player from Toronto, Orlando City and "New York" (a reference MLS appears to have slyly translated as "NYC FC" - make of that what you will; other outlets took the opposite side of the coin flip: RBNY). A non-specific New York club has long been linked to De Rossi, but it had appeared to have slipped out of the reckoning before being quietly added back to the list of his potential suitors.
Still, that most recent rumor appeared to be provoked by De Rossi's poor performance against Fiorentina a few days prior to its publication, after which Roma coach Rudi Garcia said:
Daniele is a great champion, he is still young and can play in multiple roles. He got a pass wrong and picked up an injury. It happens. Nothing changes in my eyes. He will help us a great deal in future. And for the future I do not just mean the rest of this season.
Seems pretty clear.
Recently, however, another rumor casts a different light on the De Rossi talk: word out of Italy is that Kevin Strootman has been offered a contract extension - and the captaincy of Roma.
If true, this would be slight on De Rossi, a native Roman, nickamed "Capitan Futuro" and perceived to be patiently waiting for Francesco Totti to retire in order to lead the only club he has ever played for as a professional.
If Strootman gets the armband at Roma, the idea of De Rossi moving on becomes a little more credible - indeed, one would almost expect him to leave before facing the embarrassment of watching a younger player, and a foreigner, take over leading the team he's been expected to captain since it became clear he was a world-class talent.
So we have a new rumor to watch: Strootman's future at Roma may well be a predictor of De Rossi's intentions.