- Gavin Rushnell
Transfer Shortlist: Center Midfielders
As we all know, a shake-up is bound to happen this off-season in central midfield. The likes of Kljestan and Powers will surely be out the door, Higuita, Johnson, and Rosell are questionable to remain at the club due to their high contracts, and Ascues may or may not be a casualty of our transition to a new head coach (as his loan is set to end in the coming months). My assumption is one of Higuita or Rosell will remain with the club and Ascues may be brought back. That still leaves us four midfielders short. Pereyra, Lindley, Mendez, Rosell/Higuita, and Ascues would be our midfield core. If you break that down even further, that leaves us with 2 CDM's (#6), 2 CM's (#8), and 1 CAM (#10). In an attacking style of play these days, almost everyone would play 3 in midfield so we will need depth in that position if we want to challenge for the playoffs.
I concocted a list of about 15 players who could realistically come in and make a case for the starting Xl.
Here's the order for CM's.
Name - team, age, contract ending date, min per G/A
All the stats are from their entire career. Let's get into the list.
Etzaz Hussain - Molde FK, 26 y/o, 12/31/2019, 255 min per G/A
Alejandro Chumacero - Club Puebla, 28 y/o, 12/31/2019, 270 min per G/A
Georgi Zhukov - Kairat Almaty, 24 y/o, 12/31/2019, 548 min per G/A
Nicolas Aguirre - No club, 29 y/o, no contract right now, 342 min per G/A
Jordon Mutch - No club, 27 y/o, no contract right now, 287 min per G/A
Max Veloso - No club, 27 y/o, no contract right now, 290 min per G/A
Alexandru Mateiu - CS U Craiova, 29 y/o, 6/30/2020, 660 min per G/A
Santiago Romero - Fortaleza, 29 y/o, 12/31/2019, 530 min per G/A
Marco Medel - Wanderers, 30 y/o, 12/31/2019, 214 min per G/A
Odil Akhmedov - SIPG, 31 y/o, 12/31/2019, 422 min per G/A
Pajtim Kasami - FC Sion, 27 y/o, 6/30/2020, 257 min per G/A
Anicet - Ludogorets, 29 y/o, 6/30/2020, 322 min per G/A
Lorenzo Faravelli - Huracan, 26 y/o, 6/30/2020, 320 min per G/A
Martin Frydek - Sparta Praha, 27 y/o, 6/30/2020, 432 min per G/A
Players of the Shortlist
First and foremost is Georgi Zhukov. He is the player out of this whole shortlist I want the most. He's also the most unlikely to come to us. Currently playing in his home country of Kazakhstan, the 5'7 midfielder is playing for Kairat Almaty who currently sit in 1st place in the Premier Liga. He's a player who has amazing close control, probably the best I've ever seen. He also has a good eye for a pass and isn't afraid to take a shot from outside the box (he's pretty accurate too). He isn't someone who is going to score or assist every game (he has the highest min per G/A on the entire list), but he is going to help the team retain possession in the attacking third. He'd pair up well with Pereyra as the other #8 in a 4-3-3 in my opinion. All of these conclusions have come from a Youtube video that I highly recommend you watch: https://youtu.be/LwVETn0fs7Y
Next on the list is Jordon Mutch. A player who you may know from his time with Cardiff City, Crystal Palace, or Vancouver in the MLS. He most recently had a short stint in South Korea but failed to make "an adequate transition on and off the field" (per the Korea Herold). This led to his contract being terminated and he now sits club-less. For me, he is a player who would instantly replace Will Johnson as he works hard in the midfield (we could probably get him on a cheaper salary too). He is still young at 27 years old and has had success in the MLS when he went on loan to Vancouver last season. He had 2 goals and 3 assists in only 828 minutes (165 min per G/A) including this certified banger: https://youtu.be/rmcyMK3Vbyc. I think he would make a fantastic addition to the squad and would urge Muzzi and the FO to start negotiations to get him on the team ASAP.
The 3rd highlighted player is another one with no club. The Portuguese-born Swiss midfielder is a very good passer of the ball and would be a good replacement for Rosell should we wish to get his $522,499 salary off the books. Veloso would probably be cheaper and could potentially be better. He would fit in a 4-2-3-1 alongside Mendez as he is a player who seems to affect the game from a deeper position. He also fills a niche that we currently do not have in our team: a left-footed midfielder. Every midfielder we have is right-footed and we could really benefit with someone who can switch the play from right to left without having to take an extra touch or two. Here are his Youtube highlights if you were wondering: https://youtu.be/DNkyAqHcmZE
Other Players to Watch
Pajtim Kasami - prolific midfielder who would improve us greatly
Anicet - A high-quality midfielder who is strong in most areas of his game. Tackling, work rate, control, and passing are his strongest attributes although he is unlikely to want to come to MLS.
I really think these 3 players would improve our team greatly and 2 of them don't even have a club right now. If I could only have one Zhukov would be my choice but as I explained earlier, he probably won't want to leave his home country for us.
That ends the mini-series of my shortlist for the summer. I hope you guys enjoyed it. Let me know what you guys thought of it.
'Til next time, this has been Gavin Rushnell and Vamos Orlando.