We're seeing a lot of MLS transfer talk get shut down as the European off-season begins and both clubs and players get serious about figuring out their next moves. The trio of Ghanaian stars persistently linked to the New York Red Bulls in recent months - Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari, and Kevin-Prince Boateng - have either found new clubs (Essien), or are reportedly close to deals that will see them settled for next season (Muntari and Boateng). And in all three cases, the MLS chat dropped off substantially as June approached and the time for deal-making drew closer.
Not coincidentally, two of those players - Essien and Muntari - were (or is, though probably not for much longer, in Muntari's case) attached to an Italian club (AC Milan). The Italian press fell hard for MLS this season, linking just about every unsettled player in Serie A to a move to North America, for reasons that were often comically tenuous: Daniele De Rossi said some nice things about the USA once - arguably the prime example.
Nonetheless, behind so much smoke, there will be a few fires. One such case that seems to have had more than usual amount of truth behind it is that of Cristian Ledesma. The midfielder has fallen out of favor at Lazio, and was linked with several MLS clubs earlier this year. Among them: the New York Red Bulls, who moved swiftly to distance themselves from the rumor.
Since then, Ledesma's need for a new employer has not greatly diminished. Recent reports suggested he was in serious talks with Sporting Kansas City. SB Nation's Blue Testament reported there is truth to that, but KC hasn't been making progress in the negotiation. And Calciomercato.it is reporting Ledesma has attracted interest from Genoa and Atalanta. "The MLS US is always at the gates but now the situation is on standby" concludes the Google Translated version of the Italian site's article.
In about a week, Ledesma has gone from looking odds-on to move to MLS to seeming quite likely to stay in Italy: the only country he's every played in as a professional.
His teammate at Lazio, Miroslav Klose, has been wrestling with a slightly different dilemma: play on with his current club (he triggered an automatic contract extension in February), move on, or retire (he turns 37 this month) and focus on coaching - a long-stated ambition for the German goal-scoring legend.
The press has had some fun with Klose's uncertainty for several months, linking him not just to MLS, but also clubs in Germany (no surprise), the English Premier League (more surprising), and Brazil (very surprising).
But that fun seems to have come to an end. Klose had a good season - 13 league goals in 34 appearances - and Lazio finished third in Serie A. Club director Igli Tare was recently quoted dismissing the constant rumors of Klose's departure:
Klose will stay with us, he hasn’t expressed a desire to leave and has another year on his contract
That isn't quite the end of the story: the prospect of starting a coaching career in Germany is still allegedly weighing on his mind. But MLS talk has quieted.
The rumor mill can change its mind, but for now it seems intent on other targets. Klose and Ledesma look unlikely to feature in MLS later this year.