As we all try to snap out of our collective Thanksgiving food comas, Nate, Tyler and I thought it would be fun to put together a little Black Friday shopping list of sorts. No, we’re not talking about the kind that would require you to trample some people to get a $20 4K TV (but seriously...for twenty bucks? You’d be crazy not to consider that). Instead, the following contains two Designated Player signings we’d like to see MNUFC consider, one within the realm of reality and one from the unhinged land of our dreams.
Realistic Prospect: A duo from Bayern
This has been floated as an idea for a couple teams that I have seen, but I would go for both of Bayern Munich's expiring contracts for Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry.
Robben has been injury prone and there is no indication that it will stop anytime soon, but I believe he can still produce (he has tallied 3 goals in limited time this season). I think he would only come to the Loons if he sees no future in Munich, but I do think it possible.
Franck Ribéry is a little older, and well, just as injury prone. I do not think there is much of a future for him in Munich, so I would venture a guess that he would be willing to come stateside. He is not the biggest name, but I think he would be a great signing for any MLS team.
In His Dreams: Alexis Sánchez or Mesut Özil
I like to think that if MNUFC was able to sign anyone in the world, they would be smart about it and not go after the Messis and Ronaldos of the world. I would like to see the raid Arsenal for their big names. Basically, I am suggesting a relocation for Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil. Either one alone would make me happy, but they lay so well together and since this is my Black Friday shopping spree, I am buying both of them.
Realistic Prospect: Gabby Agbonlahor
While the some of the other writers focused on defensive players (remove if not true), this move would appear to work on both sides. Agbonlahor has only appeared in 3 matches this season for the club, while he is under a fitness program to get back in shape.
Rumors flew early in the season that the club was looking to unload him early in the year, and that would be to the advantage of Minnesota United FC. He has been a bit of a distraction in the locker room for the club, getting suspended last year for a picture that circulated of him on laughing gas, but recent reports indicate that he has been working hard to repair his image (and lose weight). He is rumored to be under a €50,000 a week salary, which is not completely outlandish.
While I don't necessarily think it's the best fit, it would be interesting to see if he could continue his turn around his image and fitness and compete at the highest level here.
In His Dreams: Anyone from Chelsea or A.C. Milan
When the clubs visited for the inaugural event at US Bank Stadium in August, it would appear that the city (and Minnesota United FC) put out the red carpet for them. The stadium sold out, packing around 64,000 into the shiny new building. While this may not impress the players that are used to rabid fans in Europe, those that are looking for a change of scenery could have been enticed by the showing.
I would be willing to bet Minnesota United FC front office staff was present in some way during their trip here, and who knows what meetings may have occurred during the trip. The weather was hot (right around 90 degrees that week), but that is considerably better than a trip during the winter could have been. I would welcome the surprise of a signing off of either of the teams back lines or midfields.
I Kante Hazard to guess which players would actually be interested in a move, but I'd be Terry excited if any players were to Bonaventure over to our side. I apologize, I couldn't resist Suso many pun opportunities. M'Baye. Okay I'm sorry, that was the last one, I'm Donnaromma.
Realistic Prospect: Bastian Schweinsteiger
I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: MNUFC will be a young team under an intense spotlight when they enter MLS this spring. Not only are we stepping up into the top tier of American soccer, we’re doing so at the same time as Atlanta United, a club that is leaps and bounds ahead of us in announcing roster moves, coaching decisions, and the creation of a club academy system. There will be few things more valuable to a young and unproven squad than some veteran leadership to guide and steady the ship. Bastian Schweinsteiger is a class act and would bring serious locker room presence to our burgeoning team. Oh, and he’s a pretty decent player, too.
In recent days, reports have surfaced that the Chicago Fire are putting together a $16.5M bid for the Manchester United midfielder. If the rumors hold up, it would put a serious damper on my plans to sign him to MNUFC. First off, if the numbers hold up, the Fire will end up paying a pretty penny ($16.5M/3 years = $5.5M/year) for an aging player. $5.5M a year is serious cash, even for a DP. That’s a mere $500,000 shy of Frank Lampard’s NYCFC deal and a cool $2M more than Robbie’ Keane’s L.A. Galaxy contract. Those are two rockstar DPs that brought firepower and success to their respective squads. That’s a lot of chips to pour into Schweinsteiger’s basket.
If we were able to nab Bastian for somewhere in the $2.5M neighborhood, I’d be elated. I’m no MLS salary wonk, but that puts him firmly in the upper-middle of the DP pack and would save Minnesota a precious $3M to be allocated elsewhere.
Schweinsteiger, if you’re reading this (haha, nope), just imagine how much more you would enjoy playing in Minneapolis - a city full of Minnesota Nice - than Chicago, the literal worst. Call me.
In His Dreams: Leo “A God Among Men” Messi
You thought rumors of Chicago’s bid for Schweinsteiger looked like overpaying for a player with a limited amount of gas left in the tank? Well then put down your coffee before you read the latest absurd transfer rumors surrounding Barcelona’s Leo Messi.
The Mirror (I know...I know) reports a potential four-year, 233-million-dollar deal in the works from Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Now, knowing the source, you should take this rumor with every grain of salt on this earth
Now, I can already hear the internet trolls firing up their keyboards and cracking their knuckles as they rush to tell me how uninspired and boring it is for me to pickMessi. Fair enough, I hear you. But this is my Black Friday wish list and - dang it - there are few things I wouldn’t do to see Leo Messi lead our squad in their first year of MLS.
Speaking of which, we should discuss how far we’re all willing to go to see that goal scoring demi-god wearing black and sky blue next season (assuming our kits stay the same?). Folks, I’m talking mass displays of public support, a lefse bake-a-thon, or maybe a new taxpayer-funded stadium for Leo to practice in ... just because.
Even if none of these DPs come to pass (let’s not kid ourselves, folks, this is all pretty unlikely), we had a blast putting on our thinking caps and imagine our dream signings for our favorite soon-to-be MLS team. Hopefully, it helped pass a little time as we wait for any offical word on any of this from United.