The transfer winds are swirling around U.S. international Oguchi Onyewu. A few days ago, word came that French side Paris St. Germain is interested in the giant Standard Liege centerback. On Sunday, reports out of Italy claimed that Serie A club Lazio is also interested.
"Gooch," a 6-foot-4 beast with World Cup experience, could fit in well at Lazio, which is in the market for a central defender who can deal with the big, fast strikers -- particularly Roma's newly acquired Julio Baptista -- that have recently arrived in Serie A. Furthermore, he comes with a champions pedigree, having backboned Standard's championship run last year in the Belgian Jupiler League. Les Rouches lifted the trophy for the first time in 25 years.
The 25-year-old Onyewu has wanted away from Stade Maurice Dufrasne practically from the moment he arrived in 2004 from French side Metz. Not because he was unhappy in Liege, but because he was interested in a higher level. In January '07, he got his wish when he was loaned out to Premier League side Newcastle, but after he made 11 appearances in the second half of the season, the Magpies declined to buy Onyewu outright.
Capped 32 times for the U.S., Gooch has been a mainstay in the American team since '04. He started all three games in the '06 World Cup and is projected to start again in 2010, which helps explain why he is anxious to jump to a more influential league.
Standard has opened the season on a high. First it slammed rival Anderlecht 3-1 in the Belgian Supercup, paced by Onyewu's two goals. They it got its title defense underway on Saturday with a 3-1 victory at Dender. Onyewu started and went the full 90.
However, Gooch missed last week's 0-0 draw with Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League qualifying series. He will be available for the return leg at Anfield on Sept. 27, and he'll surely be hoping for a good showing. So close to the end of the transfer window, his performance could prove the difference between a multimillion-dollar move or another season in Belgium.