Mario Gomez joined Fiorentina in 2013 from Bayern Munich, for a transfer fee reported to be close to $26 million. He was said to have signed a four-year deal with the Serie A club, which would put him about half-way through his contract as the 2014-15 season comes to an end.
This has not been an outstanding season for Gomez in Italy. He has scored four goals in 20 league appearances to date, although a more prolific record in cup competitions lifts his overall scoring record in 2014-15 to 10 goals in 32 games.
Still, it is fair to say Fiorentina might have been hoping for a little more from a man who had been a regular goalscorer in Bundesliga for most of his career, prior to his move to Italy. Injury curtailed his 2013-14 season, torpedoed his hopes of making Germany's World Cup squad, and has perhaps taken a little bit of the edge off one of Europe's better goalscorers.
This may explain why there have been whispers suggesting he may be moved on from his current club. Those whispers were sufficient to bring Gomez's agent, Uli Ferber, on the record earlier this month to reject the notion his client might be about to leave Florence:
He was described as a hero two weeks ago after the quarter-final against Dynamo Kiev. People mustn’t go overboard one way or the other. We have absolutely not changed our minds and Fiorentina have sent no new signals either.
But Ferber's comments are not sufficient to stall the rumor mill. A few days ago, Fiorentina's team manager Vincenzo Guerini tried to shrug off speculation about Gomez's future ("It seems to me an inappropriate question at this time"), but the rumors have persisted regardless.
The freshest rumor is attributed to Gazzetta dello Sport by multiple outlets, and suggests Fiorentina has turned its attention toward MLS - specifically, toward New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls.
Gomez will turn 30 this summer, so he still has gas in his tank: sub-par season in Italy or not, he is not so far removed from the days when he was a surefire goalscorer for Bayern Munich. In his last season in Germany, when he was no longer a regular starter for the Bavarian club, he scored 11 league goals in 876 minutes - the equivalent of less than 10 full games (those minutes were spread across 20 appearances, including nine starts).
There ought to be plenty of clubs willing to take a chance on a player who may simply have had his first tough season in front of goal in almost a decade. One bad year doesn't make for a bad player, and Gomez at his best is certainly a very good player.
He is not particularly old, and he was worth more than $25 million to Fiorentina just a couple of seasons ago. No doubt MLS clubs would be interested.
But is a team in MLS going to pay what might be considered appropriate value for a $20+ million player who is still two years away from the end of his contract? Not to mention the player's salary, reportedly around $4.6 million per year.
Even cut-price Gomez would be expensive by the standards of MLS - recent signings like Sebastien Giovinco notwithstanding. And, of course, his agent has been very clear: Mario Gomez wants to stay in Florence.
So Gomez seems an unlikely proposition, certainly for RBNY - still committed to the current squad and still technically unable to accommodate any new signings since it has 28 players on the roster, the maximum allowed by MLS for the 2015 season.
NYCFC, of course, is having a troubled start to its first year in existence, and a high-profile, not-37-year-old (the age Frank Lampard will be when he shows up to play at Yankee Stadium) might be what the team needs to lift itself out of the doldrums.
Gomez to RBNY seems improbable: the club simply isn't in desperate need of a player in his price range (though it could use another striker). But the rumor mill isn't entirely wrongheaded - there is a cash-rich, goal-poor team in New York for whom an elite-level scorer would certainly be a useful addition.