As we enter the holiday season, we also enter the season of wishlists and “want, want, want.” Our writers couldn’t help but dream up a few players from leagues around the world that would look pretty darn good at Allianz Field next year.
Name: Dario Benedetto
Current Club: Boca Juniors
Previous Clubs: Club America
Estimated Value: 7 million
Why Minnesota United FC should be targeting him: Dario Benedetto is currently in the prime of his career, but he’s also coming off of an Achilles tear. I know what you’re thinking when you hear that, but trust me, it’s not affecting him at all. Since returning to the pitch for Boca, he has scored five goals and assisted once in 304 minutes of play. Striker isn’t necessarily our top priority at the moment, but you have to look at it from a long-term perspective: Angelo Rodriguez might not pan out and Abu Danladi may never recover to find form in a Loons kit. Mason Toye is still 19 and needs a lot of growth and development to find his feet in this league. Benedetto’s name is close enough to that of Nicolas Benedetti, so shouldn’t we give him a look? Lastly, Benedetto and Quintero played together for a season at Club America in 2015/16 where they netted a combined 16 goals and 5 assists. We’ve learned that teams who tend to spend money are teams who tend to succeed; make Benedetto our Designated Player on the top of the pitch and show the rest of the league that we are willing to spend to succeed and compete.
Name: Didier Ndong
Current Club: Without Club
Previous Clubs: Sunderland, Lorient
Position: Central Midfielder
Estimated Value: 7 million
Why Minnesota United FC should be targeting him: Ndong was once billed as the shining cornerstone to the Sunderland midfield. After signing from Lorient for a club record fee in 2016, he never really fully settled in and was loaned to Watford last January before being released from Sunderland last month. A holding midfielder by trade, Ndong is versatile enough that the Loons could flex their formations without having to bring in different personnel. He has played in all three central midfield positions, as well as deputizing at right back and right midfield in the past few years. The Loons will have to move quickly to sign him, however, as he has been attracting interest from across Europe.
Name: Lynden Gooch
Current Club: Sunderland
Previous Clubs: N/A
Position: Attacking Midfield
Estimated Value: 700k - 1M
Why Minnesota United should sign him: So hear me out: Lynden Gooch is a player MLS sides would crave to have. However, at just 22, securing a deal with him to travel back to the states would be difficult. In an interview with “GOAL!” back in the spring, he basically said just that. HOWEVER, persuasion in a deal like this is key. If you could offer him an elusive contract with guaranteed playing time, as well as off the field bonuses... he might bite. This off-season, the team has to look into filling the void that is the ‘10’ position. I don’t care about the excuses, it’s been two years. Fill the 10. Molino, Darwin, Miggy and Finlay are wingers - they are NOT attacking midfielders. Signing Gooch would be like you’re getting Ben&Jerry’s versus Market Pantry ice cream. Either way you’re getting ice cream, but one is so much better than the other.
Here are some of his best moments in the red and white:
Name: Omar Gonzalez
Current Club: Club Atlas
Previous Clubs: LA Galaxy, Pachucha, 1.FC Nuremberg
Estimated Value: 1.5 Million
Why Minnesota United should target him: It’s simple: our defense isn’t good. We have conceded far too many goals in two seasons, and we haven’t done a whole lot about it. We traded for Eric Miller, but in all reality, that is it. Moving Calvo to left back seems to be one of the better decisions we have made as an organization, but that does not mean it doesn’t have it’s consequences. Earlier this month, it was reported that the Loons had locked down Brent Kallman on a multi-year deal, and that’s great. I love hearing that, because I really do think he is our best defender. Omar Gonzalez has 47 USMNT caps, and loads of experience in MLS. He is a three-time MLS Cup winner, Rookie of the year in 2009, Two-time Supporters shield winner, four-time MLS best XI and he was also awarded defender of the year in 2011. To say the least, that’s quite the cabinet for somebody who still has a good five years left in their tank. Gonzalez would be an upgrade over every defender currently restored with the club, and it’s not even close. He could be bought down from a DP contract with some of the Ramirez money, and out of all of the players on this list, I think he should be our #1 priority. His contract runs out in June 2019 with Atlas (on loan from Pachucha), and he could possibly be bought on the cheap this winter. If we could get him for anywhere between 750k and 1.2 million I would be a happy camper. Also, Gonzalez is sponsored by Modelo Especial beer - he would be a hit with the Wonderwall.
Name: Miguel Araujo
Current Club: Allianz Lima
Previous Clubs: Red Star Belgrade
Estimated Value: 500k
Why Minnesota United should target him: First things first, I fell in love with Peru and their fans during this past summer’s World Cup. They put on a fantastic show and tugged at everybody’s heartstrings. Araujo brings experience for such a young player and the toughness United sometimes needs.
Name: Leroy Fer
Current Club: Swansea City
Previous Clubs: QPR, Norwich City, FC Twente
Position: Central Midfielder
Estimated Value: 7 million
Why Minnesota United FC should be targeting him: Fer suffered a ruptured Achilles back in February of this year and has been working his way back into the Swansea lineup ever since. So far this season he has played in 12 of 17 games across six different positions. His versatility is a very important part of his game, but he he has only gone the full 90 minutes once this season, despite being named captain four times. With his contract expiring next summer, the Dutch international may be looking for a guarantee of playing time in his favored center midfield position. The possibility of Fer leaving Swansea may all depend on Swansea’s promotion chances. Swansea sit in 8th place, but are one of four teams within a game of the 6th place promotion playoff line. The Loons could offer almost guaranteed minutes, but the allure of the Premier League may be too much to pass up for someone who could still be considered to be in their prime.
Name: Salimo Sylla
Current Club: AO Xanthi
Previous Clubs: Sint-Truden, AJ Auxerre
Position: Left Back
Estimated Value: $500,000
Why Minnesota United FC should be targeting him: The average age of the MNUFC fullbacks is ticking upwards everyday, buoyed downwards only by MLS veteran Eric Miller and rookie Carter Manley. At the other end of the scale is 34-year-old Marc Burch, 31-year old Jerome Thiesson, and for a while, 34-year old-Tyrone Mears. The fullback corps could use an injection of youth and that’s just what Sylla could be. So who is Salimo Sylla? Picture Miguel Ibarra as a French left back, but replace his scoring ability with some tenacity on defense. He isn’t afraid to get forward and his final ball, whether a cross from the wing or a measured pass behind the defense is impressive. While no one will mistake the Greek league for the World’s best league, it is highly competitive and he has experience against Champions League level opponents. Due to his contract ending next summer he could be available relatively cheap in January.
Here are some of his best moments:
Name: Mix Diskerud
Current Club: Ulsan Hyundai
Previous Clubs: IFK Goteborg, Manchester City, New York City FC
Position: Center Midfield
Estimated Value: $800,000
Why Minnesota United FC should be targeting him: MNUFC’s midfield options have been adequate at best over the past two years. On the best of days they were able to feed the ball into the attack and get in the way on defense, on the worst of days they were bypassed completely and even set up the other team with giveaways. Mix Diskerud has never been a great goalscorer or a versatile player from midfield, and he has never needed to be, but what he brings to the midfield is another level of experience and class. Mix’s greatest contribution to any team is his football IQ. His USMNT contributions have been characterized by intelligent runs, cheeky touches, and excellent timing.
He can provide defensive stability on one side of the ball, and late runs into the box to cause chaos on get on the end of knockdowns on the other side of the ball. Manchester City picked him up for free last year and loaned him to Ulsan Hyundai until next summer, but he could be recalled and sold if necessary. Additionally, as an American, he wouldn’t take up an international slot or have to go through the process of securing a green card.
Name: Darko Jevtic
Current Club: Lech Poznan
Previous Clubs: FC Basel
Position: Left Wing, Attacking Midfield
Estimated Value: $1,800,000
Why Minnesota United FC should be targeting him: The Loons have never really had a designated winger that could striker fear into the hearts of opposing fullbacks, someone in the mold of Johnny Russel, Alphonso Davies or Lucho Acosta. Darwin is best when he has the freedom to roam, Miguel Ibarra will outwork defenders more often than outfoxing them, and the less said about Alexi Gomez the better. Enter Darko Jevtic. Jevtic can play across any of the front four positions, much like RSL’s Albert Rusnak. He isn’t afraid to run past players in any part of the field and has a decent strike on him when he can work space for a shot. Adding Jevtic to the front four for the Loons would allow them to keep opposing defenders honest and provide a change of pace from the speed of Molino, Romario, and Finlay and the work rate of Miguel Ibarra. Jevtic is no slouch himself, and he has all the guile he needs to put defenders on the back foot, and their backsides, as he runs past them.
Name: Joel Campbell
Current Club: Frosinone
Previous Clubs: Arsenal
Position: Right Wing, Striker, Left Wing
Estimated Value: 2.7 million
Why Minnesota United FC should be targeting him: Here it is. The token Costa Rican for the Loons this offseason. While Calvo as a whole has been a success, Johan Venegas and Jose Leiton failed to make an impression. Joel Campbell joined Arsenal from Saprissa (Calvo’s old club and Johan Venegas’ current loan club) in 2011 and went on no fewer than six loans before finally ending up at Frosinone on a permanent deal this year. The most significant game of his career came in the 2014 World Cup when he provided a goal and an assist as Costa Rica beat Uruguay 3-1. His quality is undeniable, but he has lacked consistency throughout his career. So far he has three assists in 10 games for 19th place Frosinone so his availability will depend on the team’s position and his performances. He has all the physical attributes necessary to a succeed and an offense built to exploit those attributes may be just what he needs to flourish.
Name: Ethan Horvath
Current Club: Club Brugge
Estimated Value: $1,000,000
Why Minnesota United should be targeting him: Horvath may (should?) very well be the American goalkeeper of the future. He’s still young, especially in keeper terms, and is already plying his trade in Europe, with one of Belgium’s top teams. United scouts have been in that area already this offseason, so it would sure be nice to see a big move for a top goalkeeper. We love ourselves some Bobby, but sometimes you just can’t help but dream...
Which of these players would you like to see signed? Do you have others you’d love to see suit up for the Loons? Let us know in the comments section below!