Ah, the rumor mills are really booming this week, as we have seen some crazy names flying around the world of MLS. Yet there are four this week who have piqued my interest:
1.) Didier Drogba: Chicago Fire/Montreal Impact
The 37-year-old superstar striker is one of the biggest names in football this past decade. Before becoming the big name he is today after moving to Chelsea in 2004, the Ivory Coast attacker spent six years circling around French football; from Le Mans in 1998, to Guingamp in 2002, to Marseille in 2003 (where in 2003-2004 he was awarded Ligue 1 Player of the Year/Ligue 1 Team of the Year/Ligue 1 Goal of the Year). After securing the 2012 Champions League for Chelsea, Drogba moved on to Tim Cahill’s current club Shanghai Shenhua, followed by joining Galatasaray, before returning back to Chelsea in 2014.
He has far too many honors to acknowledge in one post, but to name a few: winning the Premier League four times, the FA Cup four times, the Super Lig once, the Football League Cup three times, Ivory Coast Player of the Year three times, African Footballer of the Year twice, Premier League Golden Boot twice, and Turkish Footballer of the Year once.
But onto the transfer watch for Drogba, who has shown an interest in MLS and has been on the radar for the league for years now. To put it short and simple, the Chicago Fire have first "dibs" on Didier through being at the top of the list for the discovery claim. Yet it appears his real interest is at Montreal.
The way I see it, as do others, if Drogba were to come to MLS, Montreal would be the best match. As Noel Butler of TSN puts it, after reaching the CONCACAF Champions League final this year, Montreal are surely an international draw. A City that speaks French, Drogba's native language, is also a big draw for the striker.
According to the 2015 MLS Players Rules and Regulations Summary, under Discovery Process,
"If one or more clubs try to add the same player to their Discovery Lists, the club that filed the claim first will have the priority right to sign the player."
Therefore, Chicago has the first chance at signing Drogba in MLS.
Many believe Drogba is far too old for this league, and to that I say this (Oldest MLS Players Circa. 2011, Source):
Sure, he's 37 and non-MLS fans will make the signing about how the league is for retiring players wanting a paycheck, but who cares what they think?
Likelihood of Signing: Chicago = 4/10
Montreal = 6.5/10
2.) Alberto Aquilani: Montreal Impact
If you're a fan of Serie A, you recognize this name. Being an A.C. Milan fan myself (where he played on loan from Liverpool in 2011-2012), Alberto Aquilani is a quality midfielder who is often overlooked, although some may say he has never truly reached his full potential. In 2003, he won the UEFA Euro U-19 Championship Player of the Tournament when Italy took the crown. Since then, when he was on A.S. Roma from 2002-2009, he has been bounced around Serie A on loan after being signed to Liverpool in 2009. From A.C. Milan, to Juve, to his newly signed club Fiorentina (2012), Aquilani has been in and out of starting lineups with all the competition that is in Serie A, especially at midfield.
So is now the time Aquilani should sign an MLS contract? I believe so. Yet, I'm not so sure Montreal is the right place for him after reading this article by Graham Neysmith, who raises a good point in showing Montreal's current Starting XI, and presenting the point that Aquilani may not see much playing time with Montreal's lineup the way it is now. I do believe there is a place for a midfielder like Alberto Aquilani in MLS, but where? I'm not sure and I'm in no position to create transfer rumors myself, but with Montreal already having a decent midfield, maybe going there isn't the best idea for the 31-year-old Italian. I do however want to see him make his way to MLS, and the sooner the better.
Likelihood of Signing: Montreal = 4.5/10
3.) Leon Britton: Orlando City Soccer Club
Leon Britton, age 32, is an English midfielder who is most known for his play at Premier League team Swansea City. He began his professional career in 1999 when he signed for West Ham before being put on loan to Swansea in 2002 where he'd make his first professional Premier League appearance. Following that season, he was officially signed to Swansea City A.F.C. in 2003, playing seven years before moving to League One's (English Football's 3rd division) Sheffield United in 2010. Then in 2011, he was resigned to Swansea, where he currently resides.
As Scott Crumbly of fellow SB Nation MLS blog (The Mane Land) puts it, OCSC or any MLS club in fact hasn't made an offer for Britton, but talks have been circling around the Englishman and MLS.
Personally, I'm not so sure about this signing. Maybe I was being a bit biased with the signing of Aquilani to an MLS club because of my love for AC Milan, but I'm not sure how Leon Britton will fit into Orlando's lineup. With Kaka being the face of the club and Carlos Rivas being an up-and-coming player (age 21), Orlando are going to want to get those two acquainted as much as possible. Maybe Britton has a chance at taking Lewis Neal's position?
Leon Britton isn't exactly my favorite rumor to appear this past week or so, but if Orlando believes they have a spot open for him, Adrian Heath is one guy who can certainly work him into the lineup.
Likelihood of Signing: OCSC = 4/10
4.) Paulo Henrique Ganso: Orlando City Soccer Club
Now this is the signing I believe Orlando should be more interested in. At the age of 25, Ganso would fit great into the attacking midfield of OCSC.
Kaka and Paulo Henrique Ganso have actually been teammates before, in 2014, when they were both at Sao Paulo. Ganso started his career alongside Neymar Jr. at Santos FC before moving onto Sao Paulo FC in 2012.
As MLSSoccer.com writes, Ganso would be in addition to current DPs Bryan Rochez (Age 20), Kaka, and Rivas. Orlando could use the new Target Allocation Money in order to "drop" one of their current designated players to a non-DP contract, allowing Ganso to receive one. This would be the same thing that the LA Galaxy did when they signed Giovani Dos Santos, dropping Omar Gonzalez from a DP contract.
Could Ganso be closer to joining MLS than we thought?
Orlando City reportedly took São Paulo to Justice as SP owe them US$ 4.3m related to Kaká's deal. They can end the case if they get Ganso.— Paulo Freitas (@Cynegeticus) July 20, 2015
This may possibly be my favorite rumor of the week, for MLS acquiring young talent outside the United States is exactly what the league needs to be working towards and so far, is doing pretty well at it.