Welcome to the Rumor Radar, a new, weekly column by Philly Football Daily’s newest contributor, Noah Barnes. Each week, Barnes breaks down his top MLS transfer rumors of the week.
January has finally ended, and it feels like the month has dragged on forever, but here we are: finally in February, and finally one step closer to the start of the 2018 MLS season.
By now, clubs around the league are surely buzzing for the opening of the transfer window. Expect that the Rumor Radar will only get more exciting from this post onward. But before we get into this week’s transfer rumors, here’s a quick rundown on the completed transfers from this previous week.
Gregory van der Weil has officially signed a two-year deal with Toronto FC, after the Canadian side acquired the defender from Calgari in Serie A (Italy). The Reds used Targeted Allocation Money to complete the transfer.
Jack Harrison has left NYCFC after a $6 million transfer to English giants Manchester City. Harrison signed a three-and-a-half year contract with the Cityzens, and the Englishman will spend the rest of the Premier League season on loan at second tier side Middlesbrough.
Now for the fun stuff. Here are my top-five transfer rumors to keep an eye on this week.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic — LA Galaxy
It may appear, to some, that age has finally caught up to the Swedish star striker, Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Then again, people have been saying that for years, and this is Zlatan we are talking about. Still, the former Paris Saint Germain club-record goalscorer is nearing the end of his tenure at current side Manchester United.
It has been a tough campaign for the 36-year-old, who has spent much of the season recovering from a horrendous knee injury sustained last year. That, combined with the recent addition of Chilean star Alexis Sanchez by the Red Devils, could mean that Ibra is looking for an out.
The club who have been linked with the striker ever since he was first rumored to come to MLS is LA Galaxy. According to ESPN, the Los Angeles side look primed to chase after him again. Unlike last time, the club would have to pay a transfer fee to sign Zlatan, if they wish to do so before the end of the Premier League season in May.
Ibra’s agent has stated that the player has not ruled out any options this summer, and the Swede would consider a move to the United States, if such a move were to materialize.
United manager Jose Mourinho has previously stated that he will not stand in Zlatan’s way.
“But if, if, if that is true and Zlatan wants a future in another club in another country,” Mourinho said in a recent press conference. “I give help and create conditions for that to happen, to not make his life difficult.”
Nicolas Benedetti — Minnesota United
This rumor made PFD’s list last week, but it was admittedly included as a throwaway rumor.
At the time, the possibility of Colombian starlet Nico Benedetti making the move to Minnesota seemed far fetched, but now the Loons are rumored to have bid upwards of $6 million for the versatile attacker.
Benedetti currently plays for Colombian side Deportivo Cali. There, Benedetti has made a large impact for the club, scoring 14 goals in 82 appearances for Cali while playing as a defensive midfielder. MNUFC would likely try to play the 22-year-old in a more advanced role, however.
For Benedetti to join, the two clubs need to come to an agreement on a transfer fee. Cali are currently asking $8 million for the player and have yet to respond to Minnesota’s latest offer.
If Benedetti were to join MNUFC, he would be the most recent in a wave of young, South American talent joining the league. He would join names such as Argentine starlet Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United) and Chilean Jeisson Vargas (Montreal Impact).
Samuel Armenteros — Portland Timbers
According to Portland outlet, The Oregonian, the Timbers are “close” to an agreement to bring Sweden international Samuel Armenteros over from Italy. Portland are reportedly in “final talks” with Serie A side Benevento for the striker’s signature.
It is reported to be a loan move for the 27-year-old, though the player and the clubs would have the option to make the move permanent in the Summer.
Armenteros has hardly made an impact for the Serie A strugglers, who currently sit at the bottom of the table and have taken a meager 7 points from 22 games. Remarkably, the club have registered just two wins this season. Armenteros has done little to help the side avoid almost inevitable relegation, scoring only once in nine appearances this season.
Maybe a move to MLS would do the striker some good, and at the very least, provide the Timbers with much needed squad depth for the upcoming season.
Ebenezer Ofori — New York City FC
Oh, NYCFC fans, how you’ll surely miss Jack Harrison.
The England starlet’s move to City was inevitable, but it will still hurt NYCFC fans nonetheless. However, the departure of the midfielder leaves a gap in the center of the park. It is a position that will surely be up for grabs in training camp.
Ghanaian midfielder Ebenezer Ofori has been linked with a move to the New York outfit, to fill the void left by Harrison’s departure. According to a report out of the player’s home nation, Ofori is rumored to join NYCFC on loan from German side Stuttgart.
The 22-year-old has two senior caps for his country, which is a great achievement at such an age and at any level. Ofori certainly has a bright future ahead of him, which he has showcased by playing well in a tough German league known for producing and fostering young talents.
Neymar — New England Revolution
Okay, I’ll admit it (as much as it pains me to as a Revs fan): this transfer is not happening. At least not anytime soon. However, this rumor makes the list, simply because it is too funny not to include.
The story, initially reported by Brazilian blog, MLS de Depressao, states that New England Revolution owner Robert Kraft would like to bring Brazilian phenom and future Ballon d’Or winner, Neymar, to his side.
On its own, the story has little to no bearing and can be chalked up as sheer clickbait. After all, would the world’s most expensive player really give up Champions League football for the MLS? Not a chance.
However, the story has gained some traction, as the 25-year-old forward has been rumored to be unhappy at current French side, PSG. The player himself has stated that he would like to play in the United States at some point in his career as well.
Could that time be now? The naive Revs fan in me sure hopes so.
Keep an eye out this week for each of these rumored MLS transfers, and check back next Monday for the latest edition of the Rumor Radar. In the meantime, connect and follow Noah on Twitter. Cheers.