Spanish newspaper Marca delivered a story today laying out a scenario that would have Villarreal buy Jozy Altidore, then loan him out to fellow La Liga squad Recreativo Huelva. The story doesn’t so much report the scenario has done(Steve Goff is reporting that the deal is close), but as a presumable likelhood now that Villarreal has reportedly completed the sale of young defender Martin Caceres to Barcelona for a tidy profit of $16 million.
Is the scenario likely? It is possible, but not done yet. What does appear certain at this point is that Altidore will be sold this summer and Villarreal has the interest and the cash to make it happen. Red Bulls sources stated last week that parent company officials from Red Bull were still weighing whether to sell Altidore and for how much, but that his desire to leave and the club’s desire to have a quick resolution to his status would make a deal likely to be completed before the July 1 opening of the European transfer window.
In other words, Altidore’s last day as a Red Bulls player is coming soon.
Would Marca’s scenario be a good one for Altidore? Based on the Caceres’ successful path from Uruguay to FC Barcelona, it might not be a bad one. Altidore would struggle for playing time with Villarreal, but can step in with Recreativo Huelva and see significant playing time. Caceres was a free transfer from Uruguayan club Defensor to Villarreal, which promptly loaned him out to Recreativo Huelva. There, Caceres became a staple of Huelva’s defense and caught the eye of Pep Guardiala, the new Barcelona manager. Now Caceres is a Barcelona player expected to have a key role on Guardiola’s revamped squad.
That scenario must sound like a beautiful one for Altidore, who is clearly eager to move on to a new challenge.
So here are the big questions. 1) How much will effort will Altidore have in what could be his last matches for the Red Bulls? 2) What will Red Bull do with the transfer money? Will it invest it in the academy or in finding new players for this season and 2009? 3) How will the Red Bulls replace Altidore this season?
The answer to that first question remains unclear. In an ideal world, Altidore would handle his situation like Tim Howard did in 2003. Howard delivered some stunning performances in the final weeks before his transfer to Manchester United, never showing much in the way of being distracted. The more scary scenario would be to have Altidore finish out the string like Clint Mathis did in the fall of 2003, when he was virtually useless in the final weeks before his eventual departure to German club Hannover 96.
Ultimately, the Red Bulls know they have to sell Altidore, and Altidore isn’t likely to find a better scenario than the one at Villarreal. While the Marca piece reads more like a "Here’s what we think might happen" piece than an actual news story, the scenario could very well be what happens.
What does seem clear is that there might not be many more chances to see Altidore play in MLS, with his last match at Giants Stadium possibly being with U.S. national team against Argentina on Sunday (multiple sources have told SBI that Altidore will be called in for the Argentina match). The Red Bulls do play one more home game after Thursday night’s match against Chivas USA, on June 21 against FC Dallas, but national team and Olympic team commitments could force him to miss that match.
What do you think about the possibility of Altidore being sold to Villarreal and the growing likelihood that he will leave MLS this summer? Do you want him to go already? Do you still want him to stay with the Red Bulls the entire 2008 season? Are hoping he winds up in the EPL?
Share your thoughts below.