The Red Bulls are going to sign a third Designated Player at some point this summer.
But who is he?
The player's identity continues to remain a mystery as both Hans Backe and Sporting Director Erik Soler remain hush on their target, but signs are pointing to that player being Mexican national team star Rafael Marquez.
The Red Bulls already have two DP's in Juan Pablo Angel and the recently introduced Thierry Henry. The team needs an attacking midfielder that can help create goals for the two strikers, but it doesn't appear as if the third DP slot will be used for that specific role.
NYRB can also use a defensive minded midfielder who can help control the pace of the game. Backe likes playing a possession game and both of these roles are essential to this style. Marquez can fit that role.
While we still don't know for a fact who the third designated player will be, here are some things we do know:
The third DP will be a midfielder, but which need would this midfielder fill?
This was answered at Henry's press conference and it seems, for now, the attacking midfield role will be filled in house.
"It will be a central midfield player but not a typical number ten," said Backe.
"I think it will probably be for next season to try to find that player [attacking midfielder]. It is not realistic for the last five months here."
That means that the Red Bulls are targeting a defensive minded central midfielder. We do know that the target is already under contract with a club and will have to negotiate his release. The Red Bulls Sporting Director gave one more clue at Henry's press conference, ending the speculation that the third DP could be Freddie Ljungberg.
"The guy is not in the MLS at the moment, he can be anywhere else in the world," said Erik Soler.
These new clues may have eliminated Ljungberg, a rumored target over the past week, but still leaves two other gossiped names in Patrick Vieira and Rafael Marquez.
While Vieira has said he is interested in coming to the MLS, he just signed a one year extension with his current club, Manchester City. The deal was made official on June 9th, making it unlikely this is the summer Vieira comes stateside.
Marquez is the name most connected with the Red Bulls over the past few weeks. Hans Backe does have familiarity with Marquez while assisting Sven-Goran Eriksson in his short tenure as the Mexican National Team coach. Marquez is traditionally a defender, but has played a defensive midfield role for club and country. But, Marquez still has two more years on his contract with Barcelona and the Mexican international recently said that he doesn't know what the future holds for him yet.
While these two names could fit the needed role for RBNY, it doesn't mean that either are the mysterious midfielder. At this point the Red Bulls front office has done well keeping their target's identity unknown.
Last week team both Soler and Backe were optimistic that the third DP could make his Red Bull debut with Henry against Spurs. But the tone has changed a bit in the past five days.
"I still hope for Thursday the 22nd [for the third DP], but realistically it is the 25th," "But it's not much time and until a player signs it is not easy to be sure, you can't be sure in football."
But he added, "we are still going on in a good way" in the negotiations.
"I think that's a hard, maybe too hard of a goal [to have third DP by NY Football Challenge]," said Soler. "There still can be options, but maybe we have to look toward August."
While the player's name and debut date still remain unknown, one thing is for sure, the Red Bulls will add a third Designated Player this summer. And if the player fits well with the squad, it could turn NYRB into Eastern Conference favorites. What a difference a year makes.
Henry Playing Striker
The creative, attacking midfield role will not be filled by NYRB's newest addition either. Thierry Henry will play as a high striker according to Hans Backe.
"I can't see him in a way drop as a second striker or a number ten," said Backe.
This means the club could finish the remainder of the season without a true attacking midfielder, with the likes of Joel Lindpere, Tony Tchani, and Sinisa Ubiparipovic trying to provide creativity and service from the middle of the field.
Other DP's To MLS?
The perception of the MLS around the world is changing. The league is getting a better reputation thanks to the success of the US Men's National Team and of former MLS players contributing abroad. Thierry Henry says that some of his colleagues in Europe are anxious to join him in the MLS.
"I know a lot of guys who would like to come [to the MLS]," Henry said. "That means the guys are looking at the league to come and play and compete here."
"I think it could be a plus, if some other teams can get some of those players, it would be awesome."
Who do you think NYRB's third DP is going to be? Do you think they should be after an attack midfielder rather than a defensive midfielder? Will this signing push New York to it's first MLS Cup?
Share your thoughts below.