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What are MLS clubs getting from loan assignments?


As we knock around the possibilities of loans for MLS men, something gets lost in the discourse: What, exactly, does this do for MLS clubs?

I know it’s exciting for supporters to see their club’s main men linked, if only for 6 or 8 weeks, to storied clubs with 120 of history and such, teams playing in Euro leagues of plenty. Heck, we get a little spring in our step just to hear that someone is training at one of these spots for two weeks.

It serves as some sort of validation, I suppose. “They want our guy? Ooh, how cool!”

I get that.

But when we all take a step back, it’s fair to wonder how the MLS club benefits here?

Younger men on training assignment do get a compressed dose of “something different,” and that’s a good thing. They live and breathe the varied training methods and absorb a feel for the serious professionalism about which pros in other lands go about their daily soccer chores.  That makes sense.

But loan deals for veterans? Case-by-case, these might occasionally make sense. Landon Donovan to Everton two years ago? Thumbs up. Then en route to becoming the U.S. national team’s all-time leading scorer, Donovan got a lot out of his time at Goodison Park, if only in confidence and self-validation that he could pass muster at the very highest level.

The next year’s loan back to the same place? Nah, not so much. Donovan has since said that a second bite off the Everton loan apple was probably ill advised – and there is a perfect illustration of how the value of these things must be measured carefully, individually.

Did Arsenal get something from Thierry Henry’s loan last year? Yes.

Did the Red Bulls? Highly doubtful, beyond a brief PR spike, perhaps.

MLS and the clubs do own the players’ contracts, so they have a right to wonder what benefits may fall their way.

Players do need their rest, after all. Perhaps Jurgen Klinsmann disagrees in the case of players seeking to climb the international rungs, and fair enough. But let’s take a guy like Vancouver Whitecaps and Scottish international striker Kenny Miller, who is what he is at age 32.

So, good on Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie for re-grounding this on-going loan chitchat. In talking about Miller as a potential loan target in January, Rennie essentially said, “What are we getting out of it?”


Said Rennie:

No one has discussed it with me. If there was a case where we were presented with then we would consider that at the time, but generally speaking I don’t really see too much benefit in it.”

Agent: “There’s no hatred” between Bale, Ronaldo

Gareth Bale & Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid CF
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Gareth Bale doesn’t at all dislike Cristiano Ronaldo — or vice versa — despite what may seem a lukewarm on-field relationship between the two Real Madrid superstars, insists Jonathan Barnett, agent of Bale.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Instead, Barnett insists that the two men with very different personalities have a healthy relationship, and competition, that pushes each Galactico to be the best player he can be.

Barnett, on Bale’s relationship with Ronaldo — quotes from the Guardian:

“They don’t go out eating every night together, but it’s fine. There’s no hatred there. Gareth is a quiet guy. They’re complete opposites. But I think Gareth can learn a little bit from Ronaldo as well, interacting maybe a little bit. But he wants his own life and he lives it. Gareth is a great footballer, he doesn’t want anything more. He has some very good endorsements but his whole life is to be the best footballer in the world. I don’t think he wants to be the best model in the world or the best underwear seller. That’s not him.”

That’s a hilarious closing quote from Barnett, but he knows exactly how some folks are going to interpret it: “Bale thinks Ronaldo loves himself too much.”

[ MORE: Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott ]

There’s nothing better for the ultimate success of a team than healthy, friendly competition between teammates who are spectacularly talented as Ronaldo and Bale. The former will only be around to perform at his current level for so much longer, but at what point does the latter officially take the torch and supplant Madrid’s biggest star, and how accepting will he be of passing that proverbial torch?

Olivier Giroud: “I must harden myself” to unseat Walcott

Olivier Giroud, France
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Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

I suppose it’s not surprising, given Premier League players get away from the mean ole British press, go back to their respective homelands and speak with journalists they’ve likely known since their early playing days, thus feel more comfortable opening up about key issues.

Anyway, today we have Olivier Giroud essentially calling himself out for having lost the starting striker’s job at Arsenal because he’s been outplayed of late by Theo Walcott. As discussed before, this is bad news for Giroud because he’s now falling down the depth chart for France with next summer’s European Championship on the horizon.

[ MORE: Aguero admits he wants Guardiola link-up ]

Giroud, on losing his place at Arsenal — quotes from the Guardian:

“At Arsenal, I am in competition with Theo for the striker position. But he is doing well at the moment, so there is no reason to change.

“Whether it was at Tours, Montpellier or Arsenal, I have never experienced a situation like this, I have often played from the start. I need to take positives and to harden myself mentally. It is something new for me.

“I was in [Walcott’s] place in previous seasons at Arsenal. I imagine what he must have been thinking. But I feel that the coach believes in me.”

Giroud goes on to cast into doubt his own confidence, stating in very certain terms he needs “to believe more in [his] abilities.” Giroud’s always come across as a bit of an existentialist, but it’s always strange to hear players publicly call themselves out — particularly their confidence — as if that’s not going to increase the pressure currently weighing down on them.

[ MORE: Rodgers reportedly chosen to take over at Aston Villa ]

The next eight months are going to be monumentally important in Giroud’s career, as the 29-year-old attempts to prove he’s worth keeping around at Arsenal and deserving of a place in the national team squad for next summer’s EUROs, which are to be played in France.