Welcome to the Rumor Radar, a weekly column by Philly Football Daily MLS contributor, Noah Barnes. Each week, Barnes breaks down the top MLS transfer rumors of the week.
As we gear up for another week, let’s take a look back at the events that have already unfolded in the football world.
It was a wild week abroad, with the long-awaited return of Champions League football in Europe.
Here, in the states, fans are eagerly waiting for the start of the 2018 Major League Soccer season, clinging to any piece of news they can latch onto. Fortunately, the Rumor Radar has you, the fan, covered.
It has admittedly been a quiet week on the transfer front, which could mean teams are queuing up for star-studded additions in the coming weeks. That said, this week’s top-five transfer rumors are a good mix of emerging rumors as well as updates to ongoing transfer sagas.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic — LA Galaxy
Kicking off this week’s Rumor Radar is an old transfer rumor reported a few weeks ago. Rumor’s have continued to swirl regarding the proposed move of Swedish legend Zlatan Ibrahimovic to MLS, specifically LA Galaxy, upon the end of his contract.
The 36-year-old’s contract with Manchester United in England is up at the end of this Premier League season, and the Swede reportedly wants to make a move across the pond to MLS. New details have emerged, and according to ESPN, Ibrahimovic is currently looking for a home in the Los Angeles area.
In Ibrahimovic, the Galaxy would not only be getting a player capable of selling thousands of kits and attracting other big name players, but they would also be landing a proven striker and experienced player who has spent his career at some of the largest clubs in Europe, including FC Barcelona and Paris Saint Germain.
Ager Aketxe — Toronto FC
It seems Toronto FC are linked with a new midfielder every week, which is a clear sign that this is an area of the pitch the Canadian club are keen to strengthen. So far, none of these rumors have come to fruition, but that should not keep fans from feeling excited.
This week, the club have been linked to Spanish midfielder Ager Aketxe of Athletic Bilbao in La Liga. According to The Athletic, the 24-year-old could be on the move, with Bilbao willing to negotiate a deal for the player.
Aketxe has featured just three times for Bilbao in La Liga this season, in addition to five appearances in the UEFA Europa League, a second-tier club competition participated by clubs throughout Europe.
The player has risen through the ranks of Bilbao, a club located in the Basque region of Spain. Bilbao currently sit 13th in the league and 10 points above the relegation zone. Given the player has not featured much this season, he likely will not be a part of the club’s fight to stay up, making a sale to Toronto even more possible.
Darwin Quintero — Toronto FC / Vancouver Whitecaps
If the Reds are able to acquire Aketxe from Bilbao, it would serve as consolation for the recent reports regarding the transfer of Darwin Quintero.
Last week, I reported that Quintero was drawing heavy interest from both Toronto as well as Vancouver, but ESPN Mexico is reporting the player will not be moving this window.
Despite a sincere interest, as well as an openness by Club America, Quintero’s current club in Mexico, to sell, it appears that neither Canadian club will be reaching a deal for the Colombian striker.
Either way, I get the impression that this one may not be finished, as Quintero is a very talented player who would make an instant impact for many MLS sides. Any side that were to bid for the player would likely have to top the $5 million bid that was launched by Toronto, and rejected, last week.
Adolfo Munoz — Columbus Crew
Ecuadorian radio outlet Vigia FM is reporting that another young, South American footballer could be making a move to an MLS club. This time, the player reported is Adolfo Munoz, a former Under-20 youth player for Ecuador.
The Crew could be looking to land the Ecuadorian soon, especially since his current club Nacional is only asking $1 million for the attacker. The same report suggests that Columbus have already made an offer in this range, and the deal could be developing soon.
Munoz has played professionally in the Ecuadorian first division for three years, and has notched 11 goals in 35 appearances during the 2017 campaign. He has six caps for the Ecuador U-20 team at the South American Championships.
Munoz seems a likely candidate to help Columbus’ attacking woes. The recent trades of Ola Kamara and Justin Meram have left the team in dire straights as far as putting balls in the back of the net next season.
Lee Nguyen — ?
Will he stay, or will he go?
The last rumor for this week’s Rumor Radar is one that links New England Revolution midfielder Lee Nguyen to pretty much anywhere but Foxborough, MA.
The player has continued to make it very clear to both the club and its fans that he wants out of the club. Until recently, Nguyen had been holding himself out of training camp with the Revs.
Though the holdout has ended, reports from MLSsoccer suggest the 31-year-old is still seeking a trade away from his current situation in New England. The club finished seventh in the Eastern Conference last season, missing out considerably from a playoff spot.
Nguyen told the club at the end of last season he wished to be traded. The club denied his request, which led to his ultimate holdout. Nguyen does not have many options, however. If the club choose not to sell, he will remain under contract until the end of the 2018 season and would be subject to a club option to keep him in 2019 and 2020.
However, it may be in New England’s best interest to look for a trade, as the player has made it abundantly clear that he does not want to play for the club. Either way, this saga is certainly not over, and I will continue to update you, the fan, in the coming weeks.
Keep an eye out, throughout the week, for each of these rumored MLS transfers. Check back next Monday for the latest edition of the Rumor Radar. In the meantime, connect and follow Noah on Twitter. Cheers.