There is movement today in the most-watched transfer happenings involving a U.S. national team man.
MLSSoccer.com reports confirmation that Sunderland has made an official offer for Jozy Altidore, who seems certain to leave Dutch side AZ this summer, bound for a bigger club in a more prestigious league.
According to the report, AZ technical director Earnie Stewart (the former U.S. international and D.C. United attacker) had confirmed the Black Cats’ offer for an undisclosed fee but denied reports that the bid had already been rejected.
Altidore at Sunderland? Not the ideal spot for him, perhaps … but probably not the worst, either. As Sunderland finished 17th last year and lines up perennially among the relegation threatened, this looks in some ways a little too much like like Altidore’s previous run in Premier League soccer, an unhappy stay at Hull City.
On the other hand, that was clearly a very different time in his career; Altidore, now 23, was just 19 when he joined Hull on loan.
Altidore, who had 31 goals last year for AZ, kept his transfer value heading north with goals in four consecutive U.S. national team matches. And he would surely get playing time at Sunderland. Good minutes in a high-level league is what the U.S. striker needs to maintain the learning curve. If Altidore were to sign up with a stronger team, he could find himself fighting the roster numbers, scrapping for minutes at a time when he needs to be playing ahead of Brazil 2014.
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.
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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?
Is it just me, or does the press really only ever get noteworthy quotes from players during international breaks?
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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.