More than any other MLS franchise, New York City FC are being linked with Europe’s top veterans, with the prime location and ambitious project at NYC a frequent reason for the rumours. Many players make no secret of the allure of Major League Soccer come the riper years of their playing careers, and thus the league is a frequent rumor mill for aging stars who are running out their contract soon. Particularly given the marquee signings of David Villa and Frank Lampard and the fact that they have a free Designated Player spot, New York will be first on the list when discussing clubs ready to take up some out-of-contract players.
With a third DP spot calling for another big name to fill it, who has been linked with a move to Yankee Stadium?
Daniele De Rossi: AS Roma’s talismanic defensive midfielder hasn’t hidden his love for New York City, admitting to visiting the Big Apple ‘over twenty times’ [Empire of Soccer], and has seen himself drop down the Italians’ pecking order under Rudi Garcia. With younger, more mobile midfielders such as Radja Nainggolan and Miralem Pjanic really cementing their place in the side, De Rossi could decide that the time is right to bow out of the Serie A.
Of course the signing of De Rossi would provide New York City with a central core that would be envied by any European side. With Lampard and De Rossi holding up the midfield, and David Villa in front, New York’s other players would have an almost unrivalled chance to play whatever way they see fit, with the insurance that the middle is solid. This could also be argued to be a bad move; by placing all their figurative eggs in the central basket, New York will forego quality in other positions, such as at the back.
Along with this, De Rossi is currently the Serie A’s highest paid player, with a salary of €10 million per year. Although Designated Players are subject to far fewer restrictions when it comes to salaries, a figure near that would trump nearly every current MLS player in terms of compensation, and would place serious strain on NYCFC’s finances. It’s not unlikely, but not for sure, by any means. Earlier reports say that he wouldn’t move unless Roma won the Scudetto, but it is unclear whether this deal still stands in his mind.
Xavi: Another centre-midfielder nearing his latter playing days, Xavi has also experienced a slight change in his first-team circumstances recently. With Luis Enrique at the helm, Barcelona have been attacking with more pzazz and ruthlessness, and less calculated patience. Although there will always be a place for the Catalan linchpin at the Nou Camp; should Xavi feel he need more playing time, week-in, week-out, New York could prove a smart option.
Xavi has been linked with New York City FC since the early summer of 2014, and although the original rumors didn’t materialise into a transfer, a few more months of contemplation may lead him to think harder about moving, especially now that David Villa will definitely be in New York come March. Like De Rossi, Xavi will shore up the New York midfield further, and would give the team even more valuable experience.
It would take a very attractive offer to lure him away from his childhood home, but New York could definitely pull it off.
Emmanuel Adebayor: The Tottenham Hotspur striker has implied that he doesn’t intend to leave the North London club anytime soon, but sometimes in football, the players aren’t the ones who make the decisions – particularly those at odds with the club. Adebayor has been booed by Spurs fans on more than one occasion, whether for his foot-in-mouth statements or his lacklustre performances.
Adebayor has been quoted as saying that he plays simply to fulfil his contract, or in other words, for money, and the £100,000 a week man would no doubt be asking for a pay rise in order to play for New York City. Although he can be slightly disruptive at times, Adebayor has proven he can really play if he’s given the chance (with 14 goals last season in all competitions). Providing a strike partner for David Villa would be a far smarter move than creating personnel problems in midfield with another central midfielder.