Gooch Rumors continue

It is starting to get ridiculous. In the BBC football gossip column Gooch was now linked with Newcastle. Yet Roeder, the Newcastle manager, stated earlier today that those rumors were flatly untrue.

So what happened with the Gooch to Chelsea rumors. My guess is that they were close and either the Chelsea board or Gooch himself flat out nixed the deal. There has been very little chatter about a possible move in the last few days.

It looks increasingly likely that he was stay in Belgium until the summer transfer window. One of the reasons is that Gooch is “cup-tied” to Standard. Standard was in the champions league and therefore he cannot play for another club in the champions league. So a club like Lyon, which seems like a very interested suitor, simply does not need him this year. They have locked up the French league and their focus is on winning the champions league. If he were transfered to Lyon he would most likely spend a lot of time on the bench, even if he was the best defender on the team, because Lyon would want to ensure that their champions league central defenders are sharp.

Standard Liege may also understand that due to being cup-tied, Gooch’s value today is less than what it will be in the summer. So instead of selling him now, they wait. He can help Standard qualify for Europe and then they can sell him for perhaps more of a profit in the summer. Makes sense to me…

To sell or not to sell that is the question

In a wrong-headed effort to maintain the quality of the league, MLS has adopted a very conservative approach to selling its players. Unfortunately, MLS’s approach is only serving to worsen the league and is pushing young domestic talent abroad, depriving American audiences of seeing the best and brightest.

Frank Del’Apa’s column on Boston College star makes the point. Charlie Davies would have been the top pick in the MLS draft, yet MLS attempted to pressure him to sign a long term deal. Sounds great, but Davies ultimate goal is to be a world class striker and to make that happen he has to play in the top leagues in Europe. But MLS’s reluctance to sell playerabroad, even when they want to go (see Clint Dempsey, Eddie Johnson, etc…), led Davies to decide to sign with a Swedish club instead. While the Swedish league is by no means a top league in Europe, it is a league that profits off of developing and selling young talent to the top leagues in Europe.

The question for MLS has to be – Is it worse to lose talented players or to never have those players at all? The answer is clear.

The best way for MLS to develop as a league is to recognize that for at least the next decade, it will play second fiddle to the top European leagues. This does not mean that it should not try to put out a great product on the field. It should. But MLS will get no where if it expects highly talented players to want to stay in the league permenantly. Most athletes are not like Landon Donovan.

The way to grow MLS is therefore to grow young talent through its leagues. Promising players should never feel trapped in the league and the league should understand, that like the leagues in Argentina and Brazil it can prosper by developing talent. If MLS is seen as a spring board for not just American players, but for young players in Africa, or Latin America, or Asia, or even Europe, the quality of the league will improve immensely. Americans will watch MLS if they believe they are watching the future. Charlie Davies shouldn’t have to go to Sweden to get to the top European leagues.