Benni McCarthy should be an MLS target

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With MLS growing and becoming more competitive there are likely going to be a number of teams that will be very aggressive this offseason – with many looking to fill a designated player slot. With that in mind, news out of Blackburn should draw some attention from MLS clubs: Benni McCarthy wants out. MLS clubs should give him a call.

McCarthy has not been playing at Blackburn largely due to Sam Allardyce’s tactical approach that often relies on a single target striker. Allardyce has empathized with McCarthy’s plight and said he would be willing to let him go in January. McCarthy’s agent has also confirmed that McCarthy, who is from South Africa, wants to leave in January to get regular football prior to the World Cup.

The catch will be both that Blackburn will be looking to get some money in return and that McCarthy appears to have suitors in the bottom tier of the premier league. Allardyce has said, “There is a price to be met if someone wants to buy Benni McCarthy.” But McCarthy, who moved from Porto in 2006 for 2.5 million pounds, is now 31 and Blackburn won’t be expecting nearly that much in return. Furthermore there are indications that they wouldn’t want to sell him to any relegation rivals. That would seem to eliminate the places that McCarthy would most likely go, making MLS a potentially attractive option for both.

While this is just speculation, it is important to remember that Juan Pablo Angel was in a very similar situation to McCarthy when he decided to turn his back on the Premier league and Europe. Angel had lost his starting place at Villa after a rough start to the season. Manager Martin O’Neill didn’t really have Angel in his plans and agreed to let him come to the states despite having a year left in his contract (one has to wonder if Randy Lerner wasn’t also interested in seeing it happen). Angel could have continued on and perhaps played for a lesser English side, but part of the appeal in signing with MLS is that Angel could continue playing regularly, be part of a growing league, be a star player again, and get the chance to experience life in a great city in the U.S.

The model for MLS when it comes to signing designated players from Europe is less signing the David Beckham superstars, but signing the quality professional like Juan Pablo Angel and Benni McCarthy, that while on the wrong side of 30 still have plenty of gas left in the tank. In principle, I think MLS teams should think younger with their DP signings, but I think McCarthy at 31 has plenty of productive years to offer. An MLS club should give him a call.

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