What was the hottest rumor in Major League Soccer this side of Toronto FC, one that has been on and off and back on again, seems to be off for the time being.
Barcelona star and Spain international Xavi has dismissed reports that he could be set to make a MLS switch to either the New York Red Bulls or New York City Football Club. NYCFC will not begin playing in the league until 2015.
Matt Law of The Telegraph reported earlier this week that Manchester City were looking to make the midfielder the first star signing for their MLS outfit. Journalist Tancredi Palmeri created quite the buzz on Twitter on Wednesday evening when he announced, via a Sky Italy report, that Xavi had “definitely” accepted a deal that would have him join up with the Red Bulls following this summer's World Cup.
Not so fast, apparently. Xavi, who has dealt with calf injuries over the past few years, told Mundo Deportivo the following about his potentially linking up with any MLS side: “I know nothing else about New York apart from that it is very cold there. (Thierry) Henry has not called me, nor have I spoken with him. I do not have his telephone number.”
Any MLS club would be lucky this spring to have a midfield maestro such as Xavi. His pairing back up with former Barca teammate Henry made plenty of sense on paper. It's on paper, ironically, where Xavi snubbing RBNY is far from the worst thing for the club.
Xavi will turn 34-years old later this month. He is, so long as he remains healthy, set to play an integral role in Barcelona's pursuit of another league title (Barca and Atletico Madrid sit atop the La Liga table on 50 points) and Champions League glory. Xavi will, when domestic play is concluded this spring, then prepare for and participate in the World Cup.
The last time the Red Bulls achieved such a noteworthy move in a World Cup year was back in 2010 when the team signed both Henry and Rafa Marquez. Marquez was, hopefully for all involved, a one-off, arguably the worst signing in the history of the league.
Henry's tenure with the Red Bulls has been far more successful than what Marquez offered the club, but it's revisionist history to pretend it has always been that way. The living legend had little left in the tank when he joined New York in the summer of 2010. He scored just twice and he assisted on three tallies in 11 league appearances.
It was not until 2012 that Henry statistically earned his massive contract. He found the back of the net 15 times, and he notched 12 assists that season. Head coach Mike Petke has said that Henry will see his minutes decrease this coming season from a year ago. There is much speculation that 2014 could be Henry's final season as an active player.
Xavi's brilliance on the pitch and on the ball cannot be denied, but neither can his age. History, not to mention logic, suggests that the player would not have been fully fit and able to contribute at his absolute best until March 2015. Xavi will be 35-years old two spring seasons from today.
Toronto FC pulled off tremendous pieces of business this month, bringing in Jermain Defoe from Tottenham Hotspur and Roma midfielder Michael Bradley. Defoe will remain with Spurs on loan until the end of February. Both players will, in theory, be able to contribute to TFC on day one of the upcoming league campaign.
The Red Bulls have needed a creative attacking midfielder since just about the day before forever. Xavi would have been a great get for the club; this month. New York have not, this offseason, done enough to bolster the roster and prepare for their defense of the Supporters' Shield.
Having Xavi for only the final third of the regular season wouldn't have changed that.