As the European season hurtles to its conclusion, so too do a great many contracts. And expired contracts create free agents on the hunt for a new club.
One man now apparently certain to be seeking employment this summer is Sulley Muntari. The Ghanaian midfielder's contract with AC Milan doesn't expire until 2016, but his playing time has been limited since early February (after he was made representative by some commentators of the Rossoneri's decline in the wake of 3-1 defeat by Juventus).
He did not travel with the squad for the club's most recent match, a 2-1 win in Palermo. Muntari's agent revealed his client's absence was by mutual consent: he has been told he is not in Milan's plans for next season, and he requested that he not be selected as the team plays out its remaining matches (the club has 9 games remaining in what has been a disappointing campaign in Serie A). The club complied.
A few weeks ago, GianlucaDiMarzio.com reported Muntari had attracted the attention of LAFC, a team that will join MLS in 2017. That made a lot of sense when it was thought he might see out his contract with Milan. In light of more recent developments, the same site reports the Ghanaian is getting attention from West Ham United, as well unspecified clubs in Dubai and MLS.
Another Italian outlet, La Gazzetta dello Sport, is not so shy about the specific identity of MLS teams allegedly circling the want-away midfielder: "New York Red Bulls and Los Angeles Galaxy".
Maybe Bruce Arena has seen enough of his new-look midfield to quietly shop around for reinforcements. But with Steven Gerrard arriving in the summer and Robbie Keane and Omar Gonzalez already signed up as Designated Players, the Galaxy doesn't seem to have the roster place for another high-profile player. It's hard to imagine a scenario where even a recalcitrant (he is indefinitely suspended by the Ghana national team for his role in the team's 2014 World Cup implosion) 30-year-old of Muntari's reputation would be reduced to accepting a low-money (by his standards) offer to play in MLS.
As for the Red Bulls, while it is always gratifying to see the team's name linked with a well-known player in need of a new club, they also seem an unlikely destination. Retooling the midfield was priority of Jesse Marsch's first off-season as head coach, and he's still watching a new group of players gel and adjust to his tactical ideas. There is space for a Designated Player, but Muntari is traditionally regarded as a central midfielder, and RBNY is well stocked in that position.
It seems now all but certain the Ghanaian will leave Milan in the summer. But it would be a surprise to see him in the red-and-white of RBNY this year.