July 22, 2008

River Plate midfielder Ariel Ortega is leaning towards accepting a multi-year offer from FC Dallas, according to reports in the Argentine press.

Assistant coach John Ellinger was in the Uruguayan beach resort of Punta del Este (where River is training) this past weekend with the intention to convince the 34-year-old Ortega to move to MLS on a three- to four-year contract worth a reported $1.5 million a season.

"Our priority is to find a high-quality striker, who can play immediately and Ortega has these characteristics," stated Ellinger. "We want to sign a player who can make an impact, and who is also experienced, so that he can be complemented by Kenny Cooper. Although we understand that an international superstar like Ortega, who is as popular as Diego Maradona in Argentina, is costly."

Although Ortega is interested in earning almost three times the amount he currently earns at River, what may play in Dallas' favor is that Ortega can't see eye-to-eye with River coach Diego Simeone. Whether the attacking midfielder and former Argentine international will even crack the River lineup this season is still in question.

Ortega was restricted to the sidelines for much of his third stint at the Buenos Aires superclub as he struggled with alcohol abuse and conflicts with teammates and coaches, but his quality has remained undisputed.

Apart from making almost 90 appearances for the Argentine national team and playing in three World Cups, Ortega has helped River Plate to five Argentine First Division championships, as well as another when playing for Newell's Old Boys.

In Europe he also found his fair share of success, playing for Valencia, Sampdoria, Parma and Fenerbahce.

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