Kevin-Prince Boateng is not going to play for the New York Red Bulls this season. He was linked to MLS back in March, and specifically to RBNY in May - but head coach Jesse Marsch appeared to confirm the rumor was accurate in the context of stating categorically that there would be no deal bringing the 28-year-old to Harrison. Since then, the team has signed two starting-quality attacking players - Shaun Wright-Phillips and Gonzalo Veron - making Boateng a luxury the newly-thrifty club probably was never inclined to afford and now almost certainly doesn't need.
Still, KPB is a versatile midfielder who has won Serie A (2010-11) with AC Milan and appeared in two World Cups for Ghana. It is true he has had issues, both with his national team and his most recent club side - Schalke 04, which suspended him indefinitely in May - but he is fundamentally a very good soccer player: there should be no shortage of teams willing to take a chance that his talent will not be overshadowed by his temperament.
Indeed, in keeping with the upside of his reputation, Boateng has been linked to a lot of clubs over the course of an unexpectedly idle spring and since the opening of Europe's summer transfer window. Clubs in China, Turkey, Serie A, Ligue 1: pretty much anywhere and everywhere with professional soccer teams capable of employing a player whose last contract was reportedly worth about $9 million per year.
But most of the rumors surrounding Boateng's next move have either been denied, or simply haven't advanced at all. And two of those which did appear to be concrete have collapsed in ominous fashion.
In early August, a proposed move to Sporting Lisbon fell through when club and player could not reach agreement on image rights (per an official statement by the Portuguese team) or because KPB failed his medical (per a less official statement by a Sporting Lisbon executive). Most recently, Boateng was linked to Saudi Arabian club Al-Ittihad, where he might have joined fellow alleged-RBNY-transfer-target Sulley Muntari, but that deal is said to have collapsed because KPB has failed the medical.
So apparently Kevin Prince Boateng failed Al Ittihad medical??? Nothing going on well for this guy.— Fredrick Gyan-Mante (@Freddie_GH) August 21, 2015
Who in recent memory has seen as rapid a decline as Kevin-Prince Boateng? Reports now circulating that he failed his medical at Ittihad FC.— Tim Froh (@TimFroh) August 20, 2015
Oh. Dear. If the rumor about the Al-Ittihad medical proves true then it gives some credence to the whispers about a failed medical in Lisbon. And if KPB can't pass a medical, he's not much of an asset for Schalke - reported to be willing to let him see out the final year of his contract on the sidelines rather than release him on a free transfer.
When the MLS summer transfer window closed on August 6, it appeared to rule out any chance of Boateng moving to the North American league, since Schalke holds his rights and no player under contract with a foreign team can move to MLS outside its official transfer windows. But if Boateng were to be released by Schalke - if say it became clear he couldn't be sold on and it was best to cut losses and move on - he would be able to sign for any team in the world on a free transfer.
And if that were the case, the rumor mill - optimistically suggesting Boateng was considering an offer from MLS as recently as mid-August - might turn its attention to KPB's options in America (or Canada) once again. Boateng is engaged to Boston-born Melissa Satta, a fact often raised when media outlets are
looking to run pictures of attractive people in swimwear discussing the possibility of the player moving to the US.
Why should fans of RBNY care what happens to Kevin-Prince Boateng? Think back to May: it was reported the Red Bulls had placed a Discovery Claim on the player - effectively right of first refusal if he chooses to join MLS. If that claim is still in place (clubs can only hold seven unsigned players on their Discovery Lists at one time), then if KPB were to sign with a team in MLS, that team would have to compensate RBNY with $50,000 in allocation money.
It is unlikely the Red Bulls are greatly in need of $50,000 in allocation, but as a fee for a player they likely no longer have any interest in signing it is a not insignificant bonus. So keep an eye on KPB, RBNY fans: if he drifts into MLS, his presence in the league might benefit the Red Bulls regardless of the team he joins. Of course, he'd have to pass a medical first.