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Red Bulls nearly lost Altidore to Reading

SBI EXCLUSIVE

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Lost in the commotion surrounding the European transfer of Eddie Johnson and the failed transfer move by Brad Guzan was a transfer bid that stayed under the radar and nearly became the biggest story of the MLS off-season.

Red Bulls and U.S. national team forward Jozy Altidore almost transferred to English club Reading. The  bid was one of the best kept secrets secrets of January and Altidore came close to joining fellow Americans Marcus Hahnemann and Bobby Convey at the club.

"I’ve heard a lot about the club and it was an up and coming club that was interested in me," Altidore said. "It looked like it was something that was going to be a good idea for me but the Red Bulls are where I’m going to be.

"This is where my home is going to be right now," Altidore said. "I’m committed to the team and I’m not even worried about what happened."

According to sources, Reading had been scouting Altidore for more than two years and made a serious bid, which Altidore was strongly considering. Reading’s inability to sell one of it’s players during the transfer window may have caused the potential deal to fall apart.

Currently in 17th place in the English Premier League, one point out of the relegation zone, Reading had targeted Altidore to help the club’s struggling offense, which has been shut out in four straight matches. Reading is currently on a nine-match winless streak (0-8-1).

So why did Altidore consider Reading? The chance to play right away in the English Premier League, as opposed to going to a bigger club and not playing much, was appealing, as well as the fact that Reading had been following Altidore closely for years.

Altidore is expected to be a major transfer target again this summer (He also received serious interest from Real Madrid this winter) but the chances of a Reading deal appear remote.

"It was a whole process and it just didn’t work out,’ Altidore said of his talks with Reading. "I’m still happy to be with New York because I’ve watched this team since I was growing up.

"This is the team I wanted to play for in the beginning and the team I’m playing for now and I wouldn’t have it any other way."

86 comments
  • Dannyc58

    Thanks BK.

    I don’t think Real Madrid, Barca, Arsenal, Man U, etc are right for Jozy either, just so its clear.

    I simply find it amazing that he got serious interest from Real Madrid, than the dropoff was all the way down to Reading. Thats HUGE, that part of it was simply stunnign to me.

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  • Amit

    Whether or not Jozy is upet about the failed transfer, the guy just says the right things. What a class act. Foreign teams should rally be attracted to the high level mentality he possesses at such a young age.

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  • Tony in Quakeland

    Compare the development of Yanks Abroad in the Premier League to those who went to the Continent. Gee, John O’Brien or Jonathan Spector? Claudio Reyna or Kenny Cooper? (And look what it’s doing for Benny Feilhaber!) The most successful Yanks in England were pretty much developed in MLS first (Dempsey, Howard). The development record of the non-English league is far, far better. Altidore would develop faster playing reserve games for Valencia than first team for Reading…

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  • YankatOxford

    All this speculation about where Altidore should go is meaningless, if he truly does want to play in England.

    A technical league in France, Spain, or Portugal would more likely be better for his development, but HE may not wish to play so far off the radar of the casual supporter.

    The reaction here is interesting, some are surprised, some wish that he will avoid the Premiership, others are disappointed it was “only Reading.”

    The most encouraging thing is that he is willing to leave MLS sooner rather than later.

    I also concur that Altidore continues to demonstrate class and competence when addressing the media.

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  • groovester

    The real question is – are the Red Bulls really seriously looking into what they need to do this summer when he transfers and not just giving lipservice about finding another forward. His contract runs out at the end of the year, so odds are he’s living this summer or the Red Bulls get nothing. I just hope they are going through some options.

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  • soccer nerd

    Would love to know what the $$$$ deal was going to be. Would MLS even have entertained it? After all, these guys slammed the door on any discussion of moving Twellman.

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  • Ed

    I don’t know why any of you would be surprised if Altidore went to Reading. Sure they are at the lower end of EPL, but he only plays for the lowly NYRB now. Reading would be many steps up..

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  • northzax

    for anyone who’s saying that Jozy’s target now should be a mega-club, just a reminder. it took three years at Old Trafford before this chap with the name Cristiano Ronaldo started to play every minute and became a mega-star. that would be the guy who just finished in the top three for Footballer of the Year. three years, starting when he was a year younger than Jozy. worth keeping in mind.

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  • groovester

    (“His contract runs out at the end of the year”

    No.)

    i’ll happily be wrong on this one. Then there won’t be as much pressure on either side. But I thought his contract runs out at the end of 2008. Anyone know details?

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  • andrew

    i thought jozy’s comments were class… he did a great job of acknowledging that it’s no secret he is/has been looking for a european team, while at the same time professing his love for RBNY and desire to be there. not necessarily STAY there, just BE there. not many players pull that off well.

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  • beckster

    Lita wants to leave because he doesn’t get time behind Kitson, Doyle and Long. Jozy would have same problem. Although the size of the club and the manager would be a great fit, the striker situation wouldn’t be optimal for him.

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  • Andrew

    I know everyone is saying that he wouldn’t survive at a big club, and 9/10 of me says the same. But the other tenth looks at teens like pato who is ripping it up at milan, and Marcelo/Giovani who are both doing well at Madrid/Barca respectively, and it has to make you wonder…Especially considering Adu and Altidore torched Marcelo in the U-20 world cup and I believe pato was apart of that brazil team that we beat as well.

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  • Moneyball

    I really think a lot of you are undestimating Jozy Altidore. His potential – and more importantly, his odds of reaching it – are so much higher than anyone to come out of the US EVER.

    He is a beast physically. In terms of size, strength and pace he has absolutely no limitations…and he’s only getting bigger and stronger as time goes on. Ask Eddie Robinson, one of the tougher defenders in MLS, if Jozy can grind it out physically; he gave Jozy all he could muster last year at Giants Stadium and still couldn’t stop him from scoring.

    And mentally, you’ll never find a more perfect makeup for becoming a star. As everyone has noted, he has a knack for saying the right thing. That’s because he has a great perspective on his situation – he understands how things work and is comfortable with how he fits into different situations. He’s very mature, and this attitude along with his work ethic means that the places he lacks (technical skill) can and will be learned and improved upon over time.

    The kid is a stud. After a few more months in a Red Bull shirt and a few more caps with the MNT, I think he’ll be playing for a Champions League team somewhere and we’ll all be laughing about when we were debating the merits of Reading.

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  • CD

    So Clint Dempsey a creative attacking player can improve and become a quality EPL player at Fulham but Altidore shouldn’t go to Reading?

    Keep in mind Reading a few years back was a small club and they quickly progressed up to the EPL. This summer they will be adding 14k seats to their ground making it 38k. Their owner is ambitious and they have one of the best coaches in the EPL. They are a growing club. I think Reading would have been a fine destination for Jozy. Two Americans on the roster would have been a huge benefit also.

    My opinion on all of these transfers is it really doesn’t matter where I want a player to go. It is their decision and they need to be comfortable with their situation so that they can be confident and have the opportunity to succeed.

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  • Andrew

    forgot to mention Luisao, who was also part of that u20 brasil team and is now starting for benfica

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  • papa bear

    I’ve never been happier to see RBNY retain a player (and I’m not fan of RBNY)
    Reading would have been an AWFUL move. There are a ton of reasons the first of which being England has an abominable youth development system and Jozy is still young enough to need to learn a few more things.
    Plus they will be in the Prem for about another 3 months then it’s to MLS England: Colaship.
    When he moves in the summer or fall, I pray it’s Spain, Holland or Germany. All 3 are countries that actually know how to mold a kid into a complete player.

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  • papa bear

    “So Clint Dempsey a creative attacking player can improve and become a quality EPL player at Fulham but Altidore shouldn’t go to Reading?”

    Most, myself included, would argue that Deuce hasn’t really ‘improved’. He’s merely grown accustomed to his surroundings and showcasing his skills. All the things he’s doing in the Prem are the same things he was doing in MLS.
    If anything his Nats form has dipped since moving to England so you could argue that in some ways he’s regressed.

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  • Joamiq

    Wow, and I thought *I* had big expectations. You people are nuts. He’s 18. Even if Reading were relegated, a year dominating the Championship wouldn’t actually be the worst thing in the world. And if he went on a Tevez-like scoring streak to keep Reading up? That would be the most likely way for him to make it up to a big club. No big club is signing him right now unless he can either a) dominate MLS (which he has yet to do, let’s not forget) or b) prove his worth somewhere else in Europe by being a solid contributor for a mid to low table top flight team or a successful second flight team. I too think he’s the most potentially dominant offensive player the US has ever produced, and I too think he will *someday* command a massive transfer fee from a massive club – but that day is not today!

    chesterton chris, kpugs, you guys are right on.

    But I’ll join the chorus on this: Jozy’s parents did a hell of a job because he does ALWAYS say the right thing.

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  • papa bear

    “A technical league in France, Spain, or Portugal would more likely be better for his development, but HE may not wish to play so far off the radar of the casual supporter”

    since when is La Liga ‘far off the radar’?!?! I guarantee there is more viewership of La Liga on this side of the pond (North and South America) than the Premiership. Plus La Liga is a better league by a fair margin.

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  • NOLA soccer fan

    if anything by josy going to a lower class team, he will be the star and forced to play against world class talent, because lets be real…outside of a handful of players on the american squad…we dont field any players with the talent of say christiano ronaldo.

    If josy plays for a lower tiered team in La Liga or FA or even the bundesliga…its better than him sitting on the bench like most americans abroad.

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  • hoya

    A lot of people are mentioning how unrealistic and far fetched are expectations/ hopes for Jozy are at his age. What people need to understand is that it is not like any other teen star from Brazil, Spain, Italy or wherever. When those talent rich countries have a young player like Jozy they can afford for him to spend a few years on the bench of some huge club (similar to Ronaldo’s experience that someone mentioned) or maybe make a bad transfer choice that stagnates his development for a few years. However for USMNT fans we cannot be patient, we cannot watch him sit at Real Madrid for three years, end up in the CCC after Reading gets relegated or move to a club that is anything but the best possible place for him. We need him to be ready TODAY, not tommorow, not by 2010, today. Because the fact is if he doesnt become what we hope he will become over the next few years, we will be watching Eddie Johnson and Taylor Twellman stink up in South Africa.

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  • hoya

    Couple corrections Im not the best typer:

    First line should read, “..far fetched our expectations/hopes…”
    Last line should read, “…stink it up in South Africa.”

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  • Dannyc58

    Joamiq,

    I can’t speak for everyone, but I don’t think its the problem of it not being a World Class team.

    Most of the Premiereship and all of the CCC play freaking long ball. How the heck will that be best for Jozy? Someone needs to explain that one to me.

    And to what Hoya said, its a bit disappointing that Reading is possibly where our 18 year old jewel would go. While Mexico has 18 year olds on Barca & Arsenal (though he’s on loan). However that is not important, I’ll grant you that.

    And not to “attack” you, but you can’t say our expectations are crazy then say its possible Jozy would go on a Tevez like scoring run in the last 13 games…

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  • Joamiq

    Hoya,
    Incorrect. We do not need Jozy to be ready today. We need him to be ready by 2009/10.

    Dannyc58,
    Much of the Prem and CCC do play long ball. I agree that it would not be BEST. But it wouldn’t be bad either. Jozy has a lot of things to work on. He plays primarily as a target striker, and a long ball team isn’t the worst place to be for someone like that. He has to continue to improve his finishing, aerial ability, ability to hold off defenders, etc. Are you telling me he won’t get an opportunity to do those things in the Premiership or the CCC? The only way he won’t be able to is if he’s not playing. If he goes to a team like Reading, he plays. It’s as simple as that. I repeat, ONE YEAR in the CCC would do nothing to stunt his development. Let’s not forget that he’s been developing on the RED BULLS. I am a RB fan, but I’m not going to pretend we’re not a cut below Reading.

    And I didn’t say that Jozy would go on a scoring streak. I don’t expect him to. But it’s certainly more likely for him to get picked up by a big club if he goes to a lesser European team and performs (or if he just flat out dominates MLS this year). That’s just a fact. Those who think he deserves to immediately go to a big club just because they think he’s awesome need to wake up.

    I understand Reading doesn’t sound glamorous. But Dos Santos came up through the Barcelona youth system. Vela was signed by Arsenal after winning the Golden Boot and leading Mexico to the U-17 World Cup title. Jozy doesn’t have things like that going for him. He has to just play and perform. He’ll be fine.

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  • Joe Zakierski

    With all the success Jozy’s having, the clock on him staying with RBNY is ticking faster than ever. I can’t see him staying much longer than next season. That said, don’t people think that the Red Bulls need to upgrade and attract more talent at the forward position?

    Like

  • J.K

    GOL TV Noticias just mentioned this story and quoted “soccerbyives.net” as the source. Ives’ profile is going up.

    Like

  • JerseyMike

    To the poster who mentioned how Altidore has to be ready for the World Cup 2010, youre right. Its unforunate but as of right now, our national team does not have enough depth for us to play with Jozy’s developement. But I can assure you that in 5-6 years, the US national program (youth and up) will have a ton of more talent flowing throught it than today. We have more and more studs coming through the program than ever before. It is extremely difficult to keep a spot on a national roster.

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  • JerseyMike

    And to add, Id love to see him with Benfica. They play great technical soccer, have beautiful women, and he and Freddy can start working together and gaining a chemistry.

    Who gets the transfer fee if a European club wants Jozy? The MLS or RedBull??

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  • julio

    I am concerned that Altidore is waisting too much precious time in a 10th division league behind European, Argentinian, Brazilian, and Mexican leagues? He needs to get more in condition and to play with real competition. Forget the MLS- go to a better league, get in better shape and get your mind more focused on the game

    Like

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