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Red Bulls Paper Revue: January 2, 2023

The science says John Tolkin is the best young left back in the world, Omar Sowe turns right back around to Iceland, and Gonzalo Veron wants his money in this week’s links

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SOCCER: JUL 10 MLS - Timbers at Red Bulls
This is the face Gonzalo Veron makes whenever he sees CA Independiente freely conducting business.
Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to the New York Red Bulls Paper Revue presented by Once a Metro.

When I searched for the 1954 Italian film Women and Soldiers (Donne e Soldati) on Google, I noticed that the actor Joe Pantoliano is listed as the top member of the cast. Now, despite being born in 1951, his first credit came in 1974’s Road Movie. I’m curious what potentially-bigoted quirk in the algorithm determined that cinema and television’s most beloved Italian-American character thespian was attached to this random project. Thankfully, he appears unbothered by the online inaccuracy and is enjoying all of the hamburgers life has to offer.

Here’s this week’s top story.


As you know, any player either from or competing in Austria should be considered a transfer target for the New York Red Bulls, regardless of any of those pesky details like truth.

Par exemple, Sky Sports Austria reports that there is interest swirling around Bryan Teixeira, including FC Kaiserslautern and unnamed clubs from… *deep breath*… France, Poland, Croatia, Turkey, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Egypt, and Major League Soccer. The 22-year-old Cape Verdean-French winger competes with Austria Lustenau, whose sports coordinator Alexander Schneider considers a winter departure “not really an option” without a massive offer. There’s also the possibility of buying and loaning him back for the remainder of the Bundesliga season, which is described as not very “sexy” – a curious word choice, to be sure.

Teixeira is an interesting case, recently becoming one of the hottest young players in Europe. After signing a professional contract with Clermont Foot in France, he embarked on a few loans, the last being Austria Lustenau in the second tier 2. Liga or Austrian Football Second League (formerly known as the Erste Liga). His three goals and seven assists helped claim promotion, and the club was able to keep him around on a free transfer, with a contract lasting through the summer of 2024.

His production has only increased after stepping up the pyramid. Teixeira has six goals and seven assists in 16 Bundesliga appearances, with Lustenau looking very likely to survive the drop. The sharks are circling, and time will tell if the club’s valuation matches the hunger of the bloodthirsty suitors.

As always, we have no idea if the Red Bulls are the MLS outfit interested in securing his services. If they’re not, then we move on and forget. If they are, then I demand full-throated credit for putting the pieces together, difficult puzzle that it is.


Following the 2022 MLS season, the New York Red Bulls declined the contract option for forward Omar Sowe. The Gambian-American spent the previous year on loan with Breiðablik, which won the top division of Icelandic soccer, known as the Besta deild karla. After a brief spell as a free agent, he has found his next destination.

Well, it’s actually the same destination because Sowe is staying in Iceland! He joined capital city outfit Íþróttafélagið Leiknir, also known as Leiknir Reykjavík. The club finished last season at 12th in the Besta deild karla and was relegated to the second-tier Lengjudeild karla.

And who wouldn’t want to stay in Eylenda? The North Atlantic country allows you to escape the ordinary because “every day, there is an adventure waiting to happen” with an “abundance of mountains, volcanoes, glaciers, rivers, lakes, caves, and otherwise rough terrain waiting to be tackled.” While Once a Metro is not sponsored by Visit Iceland, we would love to be!


The Red Bulls made an important Homegrown signing this offseason, promoting Curtis Ofori from the reserve team. The 17-year-old’s development appears to be right on track, progressing exactly as he’s supposed to be. The Poughkeepsie Journal got the scoop on his background and future potential.

“He’s a fantastic young man,” said academy director Sean McCafferty. “His success isn’t surprising based on his dedication to his craft and his make-up. He’s got a great personality, which helps in any locker room, and he has the social intelligence to know how to act in any situation, so he’s able to fit in despite being young. He knows it’s not a sprint, but he is ambitious… He’s got an exciting future.”

Ofori does have an exciting future. Do you know what doesn’t have an exciting future? Zeppelins.


The International Centre for Sports Studies, also known as CIES, released a monthly scouting report of “promising u21 talents in the world who were born after January 2002.” There are goalkeepers, midfielders, forwards, defenders, and even a New York Red Bull. Which player made the cut?

John Tolkin is the top-ranked “most promising defensive left back” in the world alongside Alejandro Balde of Barcelona. The 20-year-old is noted for his ability to take down opposing dribblers, recover possession, and win aerial duels, far outperforming MLS averages. CIES affixes him with an estimated value of 5.1 million euro, which is nice if you can get it.

Tolkin recently signed a contract extension through 2027 with a club option for the 2028 season. I doubt he’ll be around the Red Bulls that long. Now the question is, in this modern world that demands two-way fullbacks, which European outfit will pay the necessary fee to acquire someone with his less flashy yet wholly valuable abilities?

Maybe Anderlecht will return to fishing in familiar waters.


The deal is done.

Youba Diarra is departing RB Salzburg and headed to Cádiz Club de Fútbol, which competes in Spain’s La Liga. The Malian midfielder and former New York loanee signed a contract through June of 2027. He Is set to begin training very soon and, most importantly, passed his medical examination at the Hospital San Rafael. His last attempt at joining Los Piratas (The Pirates) was derailed by lingering knee issues.

According to Diario de Cádiz, the desperate-for-midfielders club is really putting all the eggs in Diarra’s basket, giving him the longest deal on the roster. His contract has a 30 million euro exit clause. However, that number halves if Cádiz is relegated to the second division, if anyone is desperate to pay 15 million euro for him.

That’s a lot of money, but those release clauses are usually more superficial than anything, like fondant. Remember when fondant was a big thing? Every cooking show and YouTube channel: fondant, fondant, fondant. Elaborate cake culture in general really had that moment in the sun and then disappeared into the historical ether.


Fábio Gomes has some suitors.

The first club to come a-courtin’ is Esporte Clube Juventude, which recently was relegated from the Campeonato Brasileiro Série A. However, there is a bit of a snag, as the Rio Grande do Sul side “will work with one of the lowest salary sheets” in the second division and “will not do crazy things to assemble [the] squad.” Atlético Mineiro is hoping that Fábio’s eventual loan outfit will pay his entire 2023 salary, but that’s going to require a lot of negotiating.

In total, six pursuers are alleged by local outlet ge: three domestic and three abroad. If a Brazilian deal fails to materialize, there is that vague interest from Turkey that always seems to arise during transfer sagas of this nature. O Tempo claims that the European nation is “the most likely destination” because Atlético believes this would be “a better showcase” for Fábio’s many abilities which include being tall and… being tall.


Speaking of Türkiye, if you listen closely, there is a little bit of noise concerning Serge Ngoma.

A few forums and social media accounts are connecting the Red Bulls teenager to Fenerbahçe Spor Kulübü of the Süper Lig. There are vague mentions of “searching” and “consideration” from the 28-time and reigning domestic champions but little actual information, to say nothing of the perfunctory “Welcome to Fenerbahçe” highlight video. The best I can find is a post on transfermarkt titled “IS SERGE NGOMA COMING TO FENERBAHCE?” in which user Scout42 claims that “Fenerbahçe searched for a wing striker at halftime for the young foreign quota.”

I lightly scoured the internet for additional dirt but came up short. Perhaps this rumor was revealed on Turkish radio or it is, in fact, a whole big pile of nothing. Let’s lean toward the latter because a story of this nature would likely be splashed across the front pages of every existing major soccer publication in America… all one of them.

Ngoma turns 18 next summer, after which a few clubs will likely toss cheeky bids the Red Bulls’ way, hoping to spring the high-potential winger before his value increases. He’s already shown enough talent to merit speculative interest. While I, personally, doubt the veracity of these Fenerbahçe whispers (and pray it’s not some Football Manager save, although I appreciate the opportunity for additional column space), try to use the noise as a reminder of his upcoming eligibility for a move to Europe.


Every so often, another ownership group publicly declares that multi-club ownership is the way of the future. Some follow through, others don’t. Bournemouth chairman certainly has some ideas on how to streamline the player development and recruitment process.

“It’s really to control our destiny; to develop players in other locations and buy clubs that have great academies that are developing their own players,” said financial services magnate, vintner, decent golfer, restaurateur, and Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley. “We believe we’ve settled on a really interesting opportunity in Ligue 1 and that process is moving very quickly... A lot of people are coming to us with a lot of different ideas, but they have to realize that we are calculated in the way we buy clubs. We don’t overpay, so we want to be careful about that and there are lots of opportunities... We’ll have a third European club that will maybe be a level below Ligue 1 and then we’ll take a look at South America and really start investigating that because that’s the feeder system. A Uruguayan club that can feed into a Belgian club, that can feed into a French club, that can feed into a Premier League club. We’re controlling our destiny.”

Bournemouth will, of course, be “at the top of the pyramid.” This is where the ball is going. You can either move to that point or be surprised when it survives.


Ben Mines found a new club. The former Homegrown signed a “multi-year” deal with THE Miami FC, staying in the USL Championship after a loan stint with the Colorado Springs Switchbacks. The young attacker played with the Red Bulls MLS squad from 2018 through 2020, making six total appearances and scoring two goals.


Former Red Bulls attacker Blerti Hajdari is in the news.

Oh, you don’t remember him? The Albanian youth international competed with the U-23 squad during the 2012 National Premier Soccer League season after a stint with domestic super-club KF Tirana. He was doing quite well and scoring a few goals, but the cruel Lady Injury ruined his career.

“I moved to America, I was lucky enough to join the New York Red Bulls, which is known to be one of the most elite teams in MLS,” said Hajdari. “I did very well. I was active in the New York Red Bulls with the second team scoring nine goals in 12 games. Also, during this time, players from the second team trained with the first team. There I was lucky enough to meet Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez, as well as many players who still play in that team today. It was a beautiful time and a very beautiful experience. Unfortunately, I had to end my career due to an injury I suffered.”

As for why he suddenly became more notable, Hajdari is reportedly dating model and former Big Brother VIP Albania contestant Beniada Nishani. While his brother works as an “opinionist” on the reality competition, the couple is adamant about not having met through him. The two are said to have first crossed paths on Top Channel show Procesi Sportiv (Sport Process) where the retired player serves as an analyst.

And that’s your dose of Albanian celebrity gossip for the week… month… year? I’m not sure how regularly we’ll be checking in on the swinging Tirana social scene. Let’s play it by ear.


Gonzalo Verón flexed some muscle in his ongoing legal saga.

The one-time Red Bulls Designated Player was able to temporarily stop Club Atlético Independiente from doing any business until his $4.8 million is paid. The Labor Court Number Two of Avellaneda-Lanús ordered a “preventative embargo on any sum of money that the defendant must receive for the transfer, sale, assignment, or loan of soccer players until the amount is covered.” The legal claim reportedly involves non-payment of a supposedly agreed-upon compensation for his MLS contract termination.

With multiple transfers lined up, Independiente successfully appealed the court’s decision, having “given up property as a guarantee.” To avoid further consequences, additional documentation must be presented next week. Despite two unaccepted proposals, the club will once again meet with Verón’s representatives in February in the hopes of finally coming to an agreement.

I’m sure they’ll work things out.

Here’s a joke that was submitted by Augusta of Hillsborough.

Gonzalo Verón is more impactful off the field than he ever was on it.

Thank you, Augusta. Your last name wouldn’t happen to be Marsch, would it? I’m kidding.


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