We’ve heard about Major League Soccer’s absurdly, luxuriously long break. It is “absurdly” and “luxuriously” lengthy according to a few key figures, that is.
But even the advocates of a shorter off-season would probably concede that this player/loan calculus resides on a sliding scale. What bothers the most of the domestic game’s leaders is how a longer break affects player development. As Jurgen Klinsmann, chief engineer of the Shorter Break Express, says, “We aren’t getting better by doing less.” And fair enough.
But what seems like a good idea for an Omar Gonzalez or a Matt Besler or even a Clint Dempsey may not seem like the best fit for a veteran like Tim Cahill, someone approaching the winter of his career.
News is out today that Cahill might consider a loan to Australia’s A-League. And someone will have to explain to me how this makes sense for the Red Bulls’ midfielder/forward.
Cahill is 33, and he has a World Cup coming up for Australia, which means that much of his personal training and preparation in 2014 will point toward events of June in Brazil. Once he’s back into MLS action (probably after a short break), his work is just getting started; the Red Bulls will be plowing into the business end of the league schedule, plus dealing with Champions League matches for the first time.
His most recent season did not exactly end with the Red Bulls’ playoff elimination two weeks ago; he’s in Sydney right now, training with the Aussies for this week’s friendly against Costa Rica. Then consider that New York will be back on the training ground by mid-January, with friendlies and exhibitions set to begin late that month or on the earliest days of 2014.
So the man’s break is really just a little more than six weeks. At 23, maybe he would want to fill the gap, to learn more, be more, do more, etc. At 33 … ? Maybe all of that is not so critical. Maybe the R & R ahead of a very busy season is more important than a loan that wouldn’t last more than a few weeks anyway.
Don’t stab at the ball!
It’s a cry that echoes from youth matches to the upper reaches of the game, but Riyad Mahrez has a tendency to force defenders into forgetting fundamentals.
[ MORE: Sunderland hires Moyes ]
The Leicester man, linked to Arsenal, danced through the Celtic defense in Saturday’s International Champions Cup action to whip a shot home and give the Foxes a 1-0 lead in Glasgow (The Bhoys have since tied it up).
We’ve seen this so many times from the Algerian, who hopefully sticks around Leicester for the club’s UEFA Champions League run and Premier League title defense.
DeAndre Yedlin left the United States for England in January 2015, the latest step in a career trajectory simply described as “Up”.
Yedlin, now 23, acclimated to life in the Premier League before making a late season appearance with Tottenham to close the 2014-15 season.
[ MORE: Sunderland hires Moyes ]
The next year saw him force into Sam Allardyce‘s Sunderland lineup, transforming his defensive acumen in a way that few USMTN fans could deny during this summer’s Copa America Centenario (That pesky red card aside).
But not only is Tottenham in the UEFA Champions League, but Yedlin’s manager at Sunderland is gone. What does this mean for Yedlin? Let’s consider three primary options:
Sunderland still buys him — New manager David Moyes loves him a mobile fullback with offensive capabilities. Not that Yedlin is Leighton Baines, but a starting right back slot in the Premier League could still be in the cards.
Tottenham keeps him around — Mauricio Pochettino likes to rotate his defenders and will have a heavy schedule on his plate. Kieran Trippier was unable to unseat Kyle Walker last season, so the No. 2 chair could be open for Yedlin (although Trippier showed he’s on the level while at Burnley, leading the league in crosses during 2014-15).
Tottenham loans him out — Speedy right backs will be in demand at several spots, and Sunderland is just one destination where fans are clamoring for reinforcements. Lack of purchases is one big reason Steve Bruce just left Hull City, and clubs like that will be aiming for relatively proven players on loan.
Fabian Delph means no offense to Martin O’Neill, Paul Lambert, and Manuel Pellegrini, but he’s never seen anything like the management of Man City boss Pep Guardiola.
“The first three weeks have been amazing. I’ve learned more than I have throughout my whole career,” he said to the BBC. “It is a big statement but it is the truth.”
[ MORE: Wenger open to big spending ]
He’s not alone in his praise for Guardiola, as defender Gael Clichy is thrilled at what’s transpiring in front of him at training.
“That’s something new as before we were quite open and if you look at our games from last year we were conceding a lot of goals on the counter-attack because we were an offensive team and open. I guess he’s trying to make us as offensive as previous years but just as solid at the back.”
Later in the article, Clichy talked about his friendship with Delph (which really ties our post together). City’s site even used the term “bromance”. So they’ve got that going for them, which is nice.
While Manchester United and Liverpool have been the clubs grabbing headlines with transfers this summer, Arsene Wenger would like to remind you that:
A) There’s plenty of time left in the window.
B) Arsenal has a lot of money.
C) They did sign Granit Xhaka for big dollars.
[ RUMOR ROUNDUP: Mahrez to Arsenal ]
The Premier League’s longest-tenured manager opened up about the Gunners’ plans to keep looking for the right targets, and said the club is still “very active” and working with a month-and-a-half to go in the window.
“We are very active and if we find the right candidates, we will spend the big money. We have already spent big and, until now, nobody has made a bigger transfer than we have in the country.
He was also asked about Mauro Icardi, Arda Turan, and Alexandre Lacazette:
“I wouldn’t like to come out on names because if you don’t get them afterwards, people ask why. We are active, very active every day and it’s not over. Today we are on July 22 and the transfer market finishes on August 31. You know that a lot happens in the last week, so it’s a long time to go, but we are active and we are working.”
Arsenal could use a star striker, or at least depth behind Olivier Giroud, and have added young English back Rob Holding to go with scooping up Xhaka.
Do you think Wenger will dig into the bank again this summer for a big signing? If so, who?