ESPN soccer analyst Taylor Twellman sure knows how to create a stir on Twitter.
Twellman shocked many a United States Men's National Team supporter when he Tweeted the following on Wednesday afternoon ET: “Ready for a blockbuster? I'm hearing @torontofc on the verge of signing Michael Bradley. Would be a huge coup for @MLS and @torontofc #USMNT”
Twellman's ESPN colleague Alexi Lalas was quick to add fuel to the fire via his personal Twitter account: “Just confirmed with a source, M. Bradley move to @torontofc that @TaylorTwellman reported is for real.”
US supporters looking for a denial from Bradley's camp may want to stop reading here. ESPN USMNT insider Doug McIntyre reported the following regarding Bradley potentially joining the Major League Soccer outfit: “FWIW, Michael Bradley's agent has "no comment" on report that he's close to deal with @torontofc. Not a denial... #usmnt”
The Roma Press website reported on Wednesday that the club is looking for around €8m-€9m for the services of the American midfielder. That site, claiming that a €7m fee is more realistic, has stated that negotiations are “ongoing.”
Toronto FC picked up some attention when the club posted this video on their official YouTube account on Wednesday. The immediate belief of fans and analysts was that the video was referencing the Canadian side acquiring forward Jermain Defoe from English Premier League team Tottenham Hotspur.
Defoe had been linked with an exit from White Hart Lane since the summer months, and Toronto had been his rumored destination since before the holiday season. The Toronto Sun reported on Wednesday that the deal has been completed. It is believed the England international will be introduced as a Toronto player on Monday (January 13).
Bradley has made 11 appearances for Roma during the 2013-14 Serie A campaign. The 26-year old last started for the club that is currently sitting behind only Juventus in the league table back on December 22.
Rumors had been circulating that Bradley was interested in making a move, perhaps on a loan, this month in order to secure more playing time before the 2014 World Cup. He had been linked with Tottenham as recently as this morning ET. Spurs were recently knocked out of the FA Cup by rivals Arsenal, but they are still in Europa League.
Tottenham are also chasing after a Champions League spot.
It's difficult to judge this potential swap without knowing its exact details. Bradley leaving a top-tier European side for what was one of the worst teams in MLS last season and his doing so less than half a year before the start of a World Cup is baffling to say the least; unless, of course, the deal includes Bradley remaining in Europe on a loan until the spring.
That said, this appears, on paper, to be a transfer that could wait until July or even August before it is officially completed.
Bradley is arguably the most-talented American footballer in the world at the moment, a cornerstone to a midfield that is going to have its hands full dealing with Germany, Portugal and Ghana during the World Cup. There's no question that he doesn't need to return to MLS this winter in order to find consistent playing time against competition that is, simply put, better than what he will find in the North American top flight.
MLS deserves credit for showing ambition in the league's attempt to bring in such a talented (American) star who isn't closer to retirement than to his best playing days. Toronto deserve plenty of credit for showing ambition in chasing a winning squad, something the tortured fan base of the club has deserved for several years.
It's now on Bradley to show the right kind of ambition and stick it out in Europe for another six months or so.