History says that it’s not too late to make a big break into the national team scene at the most important time possible, just ahead of a World Cup.
The dynamics are surely different in 2014; so many of the ways and means are different under Jurgen Klinsmann, who is never afraid to be unconventional in his methods or to push boundaries.
Still, there is surely still a chance that someone from this group of 26, those named Friday to the roster for January’s annual camp, can climb the order and find a way into prime position. Even if they get within striking distance of a roster spot, that puts some young man one ankle turn away from a World Cup roster spot … a truly golden opportunity for any young player, because a World Cup on the CV is a real game-changer.
Here are the late-comers who arrived into prominence previously via January camp (some in World Cup years, but not all):
- 2002: You were a pretty good domestic soccer fan in 2001 if you knew Pablo Mastroeni, a tough and talented up-and-comer who had just completed a fantastic season with soon-to-expire Miami. He entered the January camp that year uncapped in World Cup qualifiers. But when Chris Armas was injured in the World Cup run-up, Mastroeni found himself a starter in Korea. A starter!
- 2006: Jimmy Conrad got his first national team attention in the 2005 January camp. By that summer he was a Gold Cup contributor, and a year after that Conrad became a major part of the 2006 World Cup effort, making critical appearances against Ghana and Italy.
- 2012: Two years ago Graham Zusi and Geoff Cameron were peripheral figures with the national team, just hopefuls, really. But both made starts in 1-0 wins against Venezuela and Panama to finish that camp. Zusi even contributed the game-winner in Panama City, and they have more or less been national team fixtures since then.
- 2013: Matt Besler (pictured above) was uncapped at this time one year ago. Let that sink in. He was named to the January camp a year back, made an impression (clearly) and got his first cap on Jan. 29 of 2013 against Canada. By March he was a center back starter alongside Omar Gonzalez. Still is.
Marseille did well to bring in one star this season but could the French side have another trick up its sleeve this summer?
Sky Sports is reporting that the Ligue 1 club is preparing to sign Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud over the summer and the sixth-place side is “willing to pay up to £20m (roughly $25 million).
Marseille made a splash this season when the club re-signed Dimitri Payet, who was playing with Premier League side West Ham at the time.
The team does boast several quality attacking options such as Payet and Bafetimbi Gomis, but Giroud could serve as an ideal target man in the Marseille attack.
Prior to joining the Gunners in 2012, Giroud starred for Montpellier and with a potential link-up in the attack with a creator like Payet, it could present a dangerous attacking threat to the rest of Ligue 1.
Giroud, 30, has scored 95 goals in all competitions since arriving in London with Arsenal.
We’ve seen MLS teams make major splashes in the past, and one of next year’s newcomers could be a really big draw if they can manage to seal the deal on a Mexican international.
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According to Metro New York, Los Angeles FC is continuing its talks with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez about a potential deal that would prove massive in terms of MLS spending.
While LAFC won’t debut in MLS until 2018, the club could potentially make the Mexico striker the highest-paid player in league history with an average salary of roughly $10 million.
The 28-year-old Hernandez currently plays in Germany with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, where he’s plied his trade since joining the club during the 2015/16 season.
Additionally, the former Manchester United man has dominated the international scene for El Tri, scoring 46 goals in 90 appearances for the CONCACAF nation.
German publication Kicker says Bayern Munich technical director Michael Reschke attended both of this weekend’s FA Cup semifinals and had his eye on two players in particular.
Reschke apparently wants to bring players from both North London Derby rivals Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur to the Allianz Arena.
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In the case of Spurs, that man is right back Kyle Walker. The 26-year-old has also played right mid in 8 of his 35 matches for Tottenham this season, and was named in the PFA Team of the Year. It’s hard to believe Spurs would have interest in selling Walker, who would help fill the role of retiring Philipp Lahm.
On the other side is Alexis Sanchez, the embattled but electric Arsenal attacker who Arsene Wenger described as an “animal” and “always ready to kill the opponent” this weekend. Wenger says Sanchez isn’t going anywhere, but Bayern does boast Chilean teammate Arturo Vidal and former Barca mate Thiago Alcantara.
Walker is signed at Spurs through 2021, while Sanchez’s contract ends after next season.
AS Roma has found its new sporting director, and it’s a man with a keen eye for talent.
Ramon “Monchi” Rodriguez Verdejo, 48, has spent the last 18 years as the sporting director at Sevilla, which won five UEFA Europa League titles under his watch.
Monchi was discussed in the media as a target for the same job at Arsenal and was a target for other Premier League clubs, but Roma sealed the deal with the former goalkeeper.
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He is considered to have a big role in discovering and developing Sergio Ramos, Jesus Navas, and Dani Alves.
Read more from ASRoma.com.