Top 5 Players in Europe Who Could Become NYCFC's Next Big Star
The fearsome trio of striker David Villa and midfielders Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo has stricken palpable fear into the hearts of MLS foes. Pirlo's unrivaled passing, Lampard's awareness, and David Villa's finishing have catapulted NYCFC to the top of the Eastern Conference. However, with David Villa, Pirlo, and Lampard clocking in at age 34, 37, and 38, respectively, head coach Patrick Vieira needs to think about life after the big 3. Should NYCFC once again dive into the well of European talent, here are 5 such players who could serve as NYCFC's next big designated player, differentiated in the rankings by both the amount of talent they would bring and how well they would slot into Vieira's system.
#5: Samir Nasri, LW/CAM, Sevilla (La Liga) [On loan from Manchester City]
2016/17 Stats: 5 starts, 1 goal, 1 assist, 91.6% Pass Completion
2015/16 Stats: 5 starts, 8 subs, 2 goals, 2 assists, 93.3% Pass Completion
Rumor has it that Nasri is frustrated with having lost a place in Pep Guardiola's City lineup, and that he desires a move to China or MLS should he not be able to reclaim his spot. Should Nasri cross the Atlantic, Patrick Vieira would be getting a player equally adept as a winger or an attacking midfielder in the prime of his career. Nasir's biggest problem in his career has been consistency and health. Should he stay healthy, the coaching of Vieira should amplify his ability to distribute the ball from the wing, which would be invaluable for NYCFC.
#4: John Brooks, CB, Hertha Berlin (Bundesliga)
2016/17 Stats: 2 starts, 0 goals, 0 assists, 89% passing accuracy
2015/16 Stats: 20 starts, 3 subs, 1 goal, 1 assist, 84.4% passing accuracy
MLS has always had a curious relationship with American players. American fans want USMNT players to explore their options across the best European leagues, yet complain over the lack of star Americans in MLS. When Americans come to MLS, they are lampooned for turning down leagues of higher prestige and notoriety in Europe. However, luminaries like Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore, and Michael Bradley have spurned Europe for MLS with positive results for both parties, and Brooks would be an ideal candidate to jump ship. Brooks' physical style, skill on set pieces and corners, and ability to distribute the ball to midfielders are all what NYCFC need right now. Vieira would be delighted to have Brooks swap one blue and white kit for another.
#3: Carlos Vela, RW, Real Sociedad (La Liga)
2016/17 Stats: 4 starts, 3 subs, 2 goals, 0 assists, 78.2% Pass Accuracy
2015/16 Stats: 32 starts, 3 subs, 5 goals, 4 assists, 79.3% Pass Accuracy
Mexico's biggest star that isn't Chicharito, Vela seems like he will be tough to pry away from Spanish side Real Sociedad, as they would be demanding a very hefty transfer fee. However, many people said that very same thing about Giovani Dos Santos and Sebastian Giovinco, who are currently off to torrid starts with the Los Angeles Galaxy and Toronto FC, respectively. Should NYCFC splash the cash and pry Vela away from Spain, it would be a seismic move for the club. Starting as a right winger, Vela would push Jack Harrison to his natural left side and move Tommy McNamara to his original attacking midfield role. Just a couple years removed from 15 goals and 12 assists in La Liga, Vela still has a wealth of quality left at age 27, and would be a fantastic grab for the boys in blue.
#2: Daniele De Rossi, CDM, Roma (Serie A)
2016/17 Stats: 5 starts, 0 goals, 0 assists, 90.8% pass accuracy
2015/16 Stats: 26 starts, 2 subs, 3 goals, 2 assists, 88.9% pass accuracy
A one-club man who has suited up exclusively for Roma, the 33-year-old De Rossi has hinted that this upcoming season will be his last for I Giallorossi. De Rossi is still one of the best in Europe at his defensive midfield position, vacillating between a strong defender and a precise passer. For a team in NYCFC that plays out of the back, the ability to quickly win the ball and get it up field is imperative. Andoni Iraola currently mans the CDM spot. Though his defensive play is excellent, he can struggle to accurately thread the needle with his passes. De Rossi is an ideal candidate to step into the CDM hole and immediately produce.
#1: Bastian Schweinsteiger, CM, Manchester United (Premier League)
2016/17 Stats: 1 start, 4 subs, 1 goal, 0 assists, 90% Pass Accuracy
2015/16 stats: 13 starts, 5 subs, 1 goal, 0 assists, 85.7% Pass Accuracy
The legendary German may be frozen out of Jose Mourinho's starting XI, but that is no reason to doubt Schweinsteiger's fitness or quality, as his fine performance with Germany in Euro 2016 showed. A defensive and/or central midfielder of the highest caliber, Schweinsteiger is by no means decrepit at age 32. As a player, he fits as a replacement for defensive mid Iraola and central mid Lampard or Pirlo. The amount of fanfare and the shockwaves that will be sent internationally will certainly be noticeable. Just a couple years ago, Schweinsteiger was the epitome of both a leader quality central midfielder. Bringing him to NYCFC would work wonders for both NYCFC and MLS as a whole.
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