Editorial (December 19, 2017) – The 2017-2018 Major League Soccer off-season is well underway, and has seen some record breaking moves already. Atlanta United have been pursuing multiple talented, expensive players such as Darlington Nagbe (acquired via trade) and Ezequiel Barco. The Portland Timbers have ushered in a new era, bringing in Giovanni Saverese as their new head coach. With so much movement around the league, the New York Red Bulls have been sluggish to get going. Though no big moves have been made yet, there are plenty of potential Red Bulls transfer targets on the market.
Potential New York Red Bulls Transfer Targets
There are multiple positions of need on the RBNY roster. The club should be looking for a strong forward to serve as a back-up to Bradley Wright-Phillips or as another attacking option. They should add a quality center-back to pair with Aaron Long, and will likely need another attacking midfield option.
The team recently announced the signings of New York Red Bulls II products Stefano Bonomo and Florian Valot. Most of RBNY’s expected signings are players such as Bonomo and Valot who are moving up to the first team, or those such as Gonzalo Veron, whose contract option was not exercised but may be brought back into the squad. Despite that, RBNY is still linked with multiple players from foreign leagues to fill the gaps in the roster.
Current Club: FC Astra Giurgiu
Market Value: ≈ $1.3 million
Alex Ionita plays for Astra Giurgiu in the Romanian Liga 1, the same club the RBNY striker Anatole Abang is on loan at. Abang’s loan to Astra brought attention to Ionita, who has been successful as a number 10, and on either wing. He has 10 goals and three assists in 20 league matches this season, good enough for third place in Liga 1 top scorers. Ionita would be very valuable for the club as a versatile attacker with many questions surrounding personnel such as playmaker and captain Sacha Kljestan. New York may be pursuing Ionita as a replacement, or as an addition to a roster of capable wingers.
Multiple reports have suggested that Ionita wants to move, but to stay within Liga 1. Whether RBNY is able to pry him from his home country remains to be seen, but he undoubtedly has talent that can translate to success in MLS. If the Red Bulls do get a deal done, look for Abang to be a part of the negotiations.
Christian Casseres Jr.
Current Club: Deportivo La Guaira
Market Value: Free Transfer
The young Venezuelan has been on the Red Bulls’ radar since at least November. The club has seen promise in the U-17 national team starter, and it appears that a deal is close to being reached. According to SOLOVENEX, a Venezuelan football outlet, Casseres is set to be announced in January.
The question for Metro fans is will this youngster be ready to play at the top level, or will he spend time with NYRBII to further develop. The latter is the most likely possibility, especially after numerous departures from the USL side such as Zeiko Lewis and Junior Flemmings.
For the second off-season in a row, the New York Red Bulls may be trading away their captain. Speculation has been circling on the topic since LAFC announced Bob Bradley as their head coach. On December 12, Kristian Dyer (Metro) reported that RBNY and LAFC were in talks about a potential move, and that “while not finalized, [the deal] is trending in that direction.”
There are fans who welcome this possibility. Kljestan’s inconsistent spells have been too much to swallow for a contingent of the fan base. For most, though, the prospect of trading team captains without a second thought is troubling. If the RBNY front office is going to succeed in this transaction, they will need to yield a high return for the League’s assist leader two-years-running. Certainly much higher than the $400,000 in allocation money they received from the Dax McCarty trade a year ago.
Lawrence has been one of the best left backs in MLS the last couple of years. He also had an excellent CONCACAF Gold Cup campaign with Jamaica in 2017. As a result, multiple teams around Europe have expressed interest, and Lawrence himself has made his ambitions known. In an article from the Jamaica Observer, the LB states his desires to ply his trade in Europe, notably France (Ligue 1).
As far as his standing with RBNY goes, Lawrence says he can see himself captaining the team, and being a leader. It’s safe to say the Reggae Boyz fullback is happy in New York, and if a dream move abroad does not come to fruition, he would be happy to stay. Losing the man called “Taxi” would be a huge blow for the Red Bulls, but it’s certainly a move the young man deserves.