Is Michael Bradley, the most indispensable player on the U.S. men’s national team, about to make a stunning transfer from Roma to Toronto FC?
That was the question on the minds of U.S. soccer fans after ESPN’s Taylor Twellman tweeted that Toronto was “on the verge of signing” Bradley on Wednesday afternoon.
Here’s what I know right now:
• Bradley’s agent, Ron Waxman, said he had “no comment” when I asked him about the possibility of Bradley moving to Toronto. (For what it’s worth, Waxman often outright denies things when I ask him. For instance, a few days ago Waxman denied a report that Bradley was set to meet with Roma officials about his future.)
• Perennially bottom-feeding Toronto is making the biggest splash of any MLS team this offseason to land big-name players. The push is coming from Tim Leiweke, who’s in his first year as the president of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns TFC. (Leiweke is the man who landed David Beckham for Los Angeles in 2007.)
Toronto’s push includes the likelihood of signing Tottenham forward Jermain Defoe to a giant contract in the next few days. On Wednesday afternoon, a high-ranking Toronto source told me the team was hoping to announce Defoe signing on Monday. When I asked about Toronto potentially acquiring Bradley, the source said: “That would be the greatest day ever in MLS.”
• An Italian source told me Bradley is on Roma’s transfer list and he wants to play more ahead of World Cup 2014. The source said Roma is asking for a $10.9 million transfer fee, however, adding that Bradley’s Roma salary is $1.09 million annually after taxes on a contract that lasts two-and-a-half more seasons.
Bradley was a regular starter for Roma last season, but the club has added players who can play Bradley’s position more recently, including Kevin Strootman last summer and Radja Nainggolan this week. Still, the Italian source was also doubtful that Bradley would want to come back to MLS at age 26, not least when he may have other options in Europe and has always spoken of his aspirations to play at the highest levels of European club soccer.
• The Star in Toronto is reporting that the moves for Defoe and Bradley would total $100 million between transfer fees and player salaries. In order to bring both in, the club would either have to deal or restructure the contract of Matias Laba. The offseason signing of Gilberto as a Designated Player gave the club two DPs (Gilberto and Laba), and Defoe and Bradley would be coming in on DP deals (Like Clint Dempsey did last summer, Bradley could circumvent the MLS Allocation Order -- reserved for returning U.S. national team players -- by signing as a DP). MLS teams are only permitted to have three DPs.