After his second spell at Bayern Munich ended last summer, Ze Roberto said, "I went in through the front door and I went out through the front door, so there are no bad feelings." One ultimately frustrating season at Hamburger SV later, however, there are plenty of bad feelings. Bad enough, in fact, to doubt that Ze Roberto will come back to the "Rothosen" (red trousers) at all after the summer, let alone through the front door of the HSH Nordbank Arena.
The 35-year-old midfielder is reportedly tempted by the possibility to play for the New York Red Bulls next season; Hamburg sources told SI.com that the MLS team has offered the midfielder a three-year deal worth $15 million after taxes. "He will do everything he can to get out of his last remaining year at HSV," said
For Ze Roberto, the offer is simply too good to turn down. A move to the U.S. would more than double his current salary ($2.5 million gross) and provide long-term income well beyond his active playing days.
Officially, the story has been dismissed as tittle-tattle. "We don't have an offer for him and we don't want to sell," Hamburg press officer
But behind the scenes, efforts to secure Ze Roberto's signature have since increased. With Red Bulls' other prominent target, Real Madrid legend
"An indecent proposal," is how German tabloid
Back in August, things were very different -- both for Hamburger SV and its new star recruit from the offseason, Ze Roberto. "When you see him play, your heart leaps with joy," left back
Following some fantastic early results, many experts believed Labbadia's team could win the title. And even more experts could not believe why Bayern Munich had failed to renew the contract with Ze Roberto, a man seemingly in the form of his life. When Hamburg beat
Initially, Labbadia was happy to afford the four-time Double winner with Bayern a variety of privileges. Ze Roberto was allowed to have regular medical treatments in Munich and plenty of extra days off. However, Ze Roberto upset the coach when he failed to return from his winter holidays in Brazil in time to join Hamburg's training camp and never recovered his form after an ankle injury. In the spring, the relationship between Labbadia and the Brazilian broke down completely when Ze Roberto spoke out against the manager in the dressing room, unhappy that Labbadia was publicly criticizing his playing style.
"Ze Roberto: nothing more than a listless rambler,"
The man who represents this out, Beiersdorfer, must ironically overcome one snag that is the direct result of his work at Hamburg. German political magazine
Hamburg will be looking to at least recoup this outlay when New York comes knocking in earnest. "A couple of million Euros shouldn't prove a deal-breaker," Schiller said. "But Hamburg won't give him away for nothing either, that's for sure."