While New York Red Bulls defender Aaron Long prepares for tonight’s friendly match in Orlando between the United States national team and Trinidad and Tobago, a frenzy of rumors continue to swirl around his potential move abroad ahead of Monday’s European transfer deadline.
After early reports named various English and French clubs as potential suitors, a report by ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle that Liverpool were in the hunt for Long exploded across both sides of the Atlantic on Friday evening. The defending Premier League champions are in desperate need of defensive reinforcement after long-term injuries to Virgil Van Dijk and Joel Matip and are one of the few clubs likely capable of meeting any fee set by the New York front office with ease.
But even if the Liverpool interest turns out more sensational than substantial, the interest in England for Long’s services remains high in the final days of the transfer window. Sources have told SBI’s Ives Galarcep that at least two other Premier League clubs are hovering around the Californian, while MLSSoccer.com’s Tom Bogert reports that one club from the second division Championship has made the only official bid for Long thus far. ESPN’s Carlisle elaborated that the bid involved a potential permanent transfer fee of $2-3 million, well below the $8m bid from West Ham United rejected by New York two years ago.
The bid would also certainly be well below what the Red Bulls would expect to haggle from a club of Liverpool’s stature. Concrete reports about progress in talks with the Merseyside giants appeared to dry up over the course of the weekend, though Ronald Blum of the Associated Press claimed that Long’s agent was in last minute talks to engineer any deal possible with the 2019 European champions.
With the recent replacement of his longtime defensive partner Tim Parker, the Red Bulls could be even more reluctant than they naturally would be to let Long leave in a rushed deadline deal. But at 28 years old, Long and his representatives likely see this window as the definitive moment of his late career. Especially given the late-blooming nature of professional profile, there almost certainly exists a strong desire to both earn his last long-term contract as well as exceed expectations at another high level.
Long himself has remained largely silent on the rumors, stating that he has trusted his agent with handling the matter so he can stay focused on international duty in Florida. But the events of the last few days means there are likely to be a wider range of eyeballs than usual on the U.S. team’s winter scrimmage.