The rumor mill has long been fascinated by Nemanja Vidic, who hasn't appeared secure at Internazionale since Roberto Mancini took over head coach duties in November 2014. There has been consistent chatter about Vidic moving somewhere for most of this year - including MLS - until he was sidelined by surgery in August.
Earlier this week, however, Il Vero Interista was reporting Vidic is expected to return to bolster Inter's lineup in January. And almost as soon as it is possible to discuss the notion of the 33-year-old playing professional soccer again, the rumor mill has returned to its Vidic-to-somewhere stories.
Reporting for Goal.com, Fabrizio Romano provides a detailed account of Inter's plans for the January transfer window. The gist of it is there will be a lot of players available as Mancini clears space to strengthen a team that has opened its 2015-16 Serie A campaign with three straight wins. Per Goal.com, one of those players is Vidic, who has been told the club is willing to terminate his contract (it reportedly expires in June 2016, or 2017, depending on the report) - with his consent.
The matter of mutual consent, of course, means Vidic needs an incentive: some place he might continue his career (or a suitably large severance payment; likely both). Even at 34 (his birthday is in October) and fresh off the injury list, he probably won't be short of offers as a free agent, but he's also fought his way back into Mancini's plans in the past - so he is not a player who will necessarily bolt as soon as a coach loses faith in his ability. Romano reports, however, the club hopes MLS might step in with an offer for Vidic.
The New York Red Bulls? Not likely: Vidic simply doesn't fit the club's current transfer policy. RBNY prefers young players willing to learn the tricks of the RalfBall system, not established stars who might think they know better. And Vidic has five Premier League titles and a UEFA Champions League trophy to his name. He is an old dog without need for new tricks.
The most obvious starting point for any Vidic-to-MLS rumor is D.C. United. Erick Thohir has a majority ownership stake in both Inter and DC. The connection has been noted by the rumor mill in the past.
But for now, the word is simply that Vidic is most likely on the market. And in Italy, the big-money move afforded Sebastian Giovinco by Toronto FC (and, subsequently, Andrea Pirlo's payday from NYCFC) has turned MLS into rumor-mill shorthand for "not going cheap". Rumors get started for all sorts of reasons, but - generally speaking - when the Italian press links a player to MLS, it's a sign that player is not in the mood to be low-balled at the negotiating table.
Vidic is on the road to recovery and apparently that road leads away from Inter. We'll see if it leads to MLS.
Vidic does have one particular bargaining chip if MLS clubs are indeed interested in his services: Didier Drogba named him as one of the toughest opponents he ever faced. The other two players on Drogba's list - Rio Ferdinand and Carles Puyol - are retired. Now the 37-year-old forward is playing for Montreal, there might be one or two MLS teams interested in a ready-made solution to the Drogba problem come January.