Remember Carles Puyol? He is a Barcelona legend: 593 competitive appearances for the club (plus 89 for the B team); 100 caps for Spain; six La Liga titles, six Spanish SuperCups, three-times winner of UEFA's Champions League, twice winner of the UEFA SuperCup, two World Club Cups, a couple of Copa del Rey trophies; and winner of the 2010 World Cup and 2008 European Championship.
He's an all-time Barcelona great. He had one of the more glittering careers in the history of professional soccer. Emphasis on had, because Carles Puyol retired in May 2014, as a consequence of a knee injury that just wouldn't go away.
His retirement appeared to put an end to the suggestion he might have one more club ahead of him. There was talk of him joining NYC FC in 2015, and Thierry Henry was even enticed to say a few encouraging words about the possibility of his former teammate landing in MLS. By May 11, 2014, the rumor mill had sucked in the New York Red Bulls and LA Galaxy. And then Puyol retired on May 15.
He said he wasn't interested in coaching, and Barcelona found him a position as assistant to director of football Andoni Zubizarreta. In January, however, Zubizarreta was fired, and Puyol resigned.
Since then, he's combined keeping fit with entertaining his girlfriend and social media followers.
And recently took a holiday in Sri Lanka that looks like it was a lot of fun.
Today, we received news that all this exercise and travel might be in the service of a greater purpose: Mundo Deportivo is reporting Puyol is training again, with a view to perhaps unretiring. "New York" and Qatar are mentioned as possible sources of employment for a 36-year-old (37 on April 13) center back who was thought to have only one functional knee.
"New York"? Well, if there's any truth to this one it almost certainly does not involve the New York Red Bulls. The team has been acquiring defenders to the point where it is now arguably overstocked with back line options (not a bad recovery for a squad that didn't have many defenders heading into its first training camp of preseason). And Jesse Marsch has spoken vaguely of thinking about attacking players as the foremost part of the roster he might seek to strengthen in the near future.
The Daily Mail has translated the Mundo Deportivo report as meaning either NYC FC - where David Villa is playing - or Al Sadd, the Qatari club rumored to be Xavi Hernandez's next employer. Both places where Puyol can hang out with former teammates, so not an entirely deranged line of thinking.
From the perspective of the MLS club, NYC FC might benefit from a little help at center back. Chris Wingert is traditionally regarded as a left back but has deputized at center back this season already, as the team continues to juggle defensive options while hoping George John eventually recovers from a long-term injury and bounces back to the top tier of MLS central defenders he once occupied.
Of course, if you're talking New York pro soccer teams with a penchant for high-profile Spanish stars who were thought to have retired from the game, there is only one show in town: New York Cosmos.
Real Madrid legend Raul retired at 36 and unretired at 37 to play for the Cosmos. It would be quite a coup if the green team could persuade a Barcelona legend of equivalent stature to join the same team, at roughly the same age.
"Retirement league" is a bit of a nonsense term. "Unretirement league", however, is an innovation few have tried.
For that reason, this observer hopes this rumor is true and hopes Puyol lands with the Cosmos. But one suspects the combination of his fragile knee and Hofstra's unforgiving lacrosse field might not be sustainable for very long.
It's not a comfortable feeling to be agreeing with the Daily Mail, but If Puyol really does have an opportunity in New York, NYC FC current needs and the luxury of a small field curated by some of the best grass tenders in American sport seems to make the blue team the most suitable candidate for his services in this particular area.