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Agent fires shot at Red Bulls over Ballack

MichaelBallack (Reuters)

BY DAVE MARTINEZ

Michael Ballack has long been rumored to join the New York Red Bulls as their third designated player.  That assumption may have just been put to rest. According to an interview with Goal.com, the midfielder's agent, Michael Becker, claims Red Bull General Manager Erik Soler has other plans.

"Michael would love to play in New York. However, it seems that Soler already made massive promises to Stephen Ireland in October. This is an unbelievable incident," Becker told Goal.com.  "There are a lot of places where Michael believes he would be a good fit, but in New York with Thierry Henry and Rafa Marquez, that's a title-winning team in his mind."

It is no secret that the Red Bulls are in the market for an attacking midfielder.  Ballack, 35, has had a long history of success in the role, but his recent stint with Bayer Leverkusen has seen him suffer a drop in form.

While speaking to the media earlier this year, Soler made clear that he was looking for a younger midfield option in his "20's and early 30's," seemingly dismissing the possibility of obtaining Ballack, who turns 36 this year. Becker alluded that New York believes his client would be incapable of playing the attacking role they sought, and perhaps would be better suited in a defensive capacity

"Ask Erik "clueless" Soler why he thinks Ballack is a central defender or just a holding midfielder. It's a pretty exclusive point of view," Becker retorted.  ""Why would you go for a no-name player who no one knows, who hasn't started in months, when Michael Ballack is available?"

Ireland, 25, does not have the resume of a Michael Ballack, but he does represent a younger, more dangerous option with a greater upside both on and off the field.  It is no secret that Ireland has shied away from the international spotlight – retiring from the Irish National Team in 2007 after an incident where he lied about a death in the family to tend to his wife's miscarriage made national news.  He has toiled in Aston Villa over the past two seasons, struggling to find playing time.  Prior to that, he featured prominently for Manchester City.  Nevertheless, the explosive midfielder brings with him the workrate and creativity New York believes will better fit their needs.

Regardless of Soler's opinions, Becker expressed confidence that Ballack would land in the United States at one point or another.  "July 16 (the day the MLS teams can sign players from abroad) is around the corner," Becker said. "I'm sure you'll see Michael playing somewhere in MLS at that stage."

After these comments, the chances of that place being New York are all but non-existent.

Comments

  1. I agree with you Judging Amy but think it is a good thing to have both players with experience and guys in their prime coming into the league.

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  2. It is good when teams in the league are going after younger guys and upsetting the older ones instead of just being happy to have a 35 year old, Ballack. I think he will be good on someones team but like that he is not dictating his terms to a club. And I love the fact that his agent is left crying over the fact that he isn’t getting any love!

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  3. Yeah, this is not even a question. I understand agents advocate for their clients, but Ballack’s just comes off looking like a fool. Ireland over Ballack is an easy, easy call.

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  4. I don’t understand the controversy here. Soler is right. Ballack doesn’t fit with NY. They have 3 solid D-Mids with Marquez, Tainio, and Pallson.

    What NY lacks an attacking option in central midfield. They also need more youth and energy. Ireland fits the bill perfectly. They should have gotten him sooner though. They might be done by the half they way they are playing.

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  5. Not convinced Stephen Ireland would be the guy to put Red Bull over the top but in the athletic and fast MLS he could do well for himself. Ballack, forget it, DP money for a year or maybe two at most, for a player who’s in the declining twilight of his career.

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  6. Yo chill out dude. He was referring to the locker room culture where Rafa Marq.uez throws hid own teammates under the bus in the press

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  7. As an RSL fan I also feel the roster coach and management are championship caliber and the class of mls. I don’t know much about ballacks ego but if he was willing to take a much smaller salary he would solidify the high RSLs chances of mls winning mls cup and making it back to CCL.

    Again I don’t think it would ever happen. In the end he ends up with a needy club. I’d rather see RSL develop their youngsters. Velasquez will be all star caliber and has potential to get noticed by decent European side.

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  8. Stephen Ireland has the ability to be a world-class player, but he certainly isn’t doing at Aston Villa. At only 24(25?), he’s still quite young and doesn’t feed the “retirement league” viewpoint that many europeans see MLS as. He’s also confessed to wanting to get back into the Republic of Ireland squad after the Euros and he isn’t going to do that by playing 1/3rd of Aston Villa’s games.

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  9. Soler may be clueless about a lot of things, but I think he’s got this one right. I don’t know enough about Ireland to judge the wisdom of bringing him to RBNY, but Ballack is exactly what RBNY don’t need — a past-his-prime player who will demand DP money.

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  10. That’s the Union’s problem. They think a bunch of inexperience young players will produce a winning team. Nowak is experimenting and is totally clueless. He reminds me of the ex-manager for Chelsea, Andre Villaboas who experimented with fielding a young team for Chelsea. They struggled with results for over half the season. As soon as the new manager takes over, fielding veteran players back on the pitch, results happen immediately. Union also don’t spend money as you stated. Experience can never be replaced. It will be a long time before Union will ever see silverware.

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  11. I’m not sure how he’ll fit into MLS; I just think platooning for Villa is probably not a route back to Ireland or stardom. He either needs to bump downward in England or make an interesting move abroad.

    He doesn’t excite me much but I can see how he’d be interested in MLS, and on paper someone here might go for it.

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  12. With 1 GF and 4 GA I think GA is your bigger worry. That’s like 60-70 GA for a season. You could, in theory, have Thierry Henry and Kenny Cooper up top and still lose.

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  13. Lol @Vancouver! I would include Colorado in the group before Vancouver. Two wins against two of the worst teams in the league and only 1 road win do not make a “top team”.

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  14. Ballack = Matteus 2.0. Aging prima donna who comes over here expecting everyone to worship him, then trashes the league when he can’t hack it. This guy has locker room cancer written all over him.

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  15. I think it’s more of a victory for Red Bulls, who are already spoiled for talent (regardless of their current record). It really isn’t fair that Ny and la get to hand pick players that most teams don’t have a chance at. I’m not sure why you think this reflects on the whole league, ballack will be playing in mls this summer, somewhere.

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  16. Who knows more about Ireland? He’s not really on my radar, I confess, and I’ll I’ve seen from him in goal compliations are gigantic boots form 25 yards. Does he have vision?

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  17. This is a game changing type moment for MLS. We turn down an eager yet aging former international superstar like Michael Ballack for a younger but with more upside experienced EPL player like Stephan Ireland.

    If, and thats a big if, this story is true and this goes down the way we are hearing it, its going gain MLS a bit more respect around the Eurosnob community. NYRB flat out turned down Ballack and called his old and slow by saying he could only play at D-Mid and not so much in attack which is what they are looking for.

    Stand up and take a bow Eric Soler, more soccer personal moves like this will start putting MLS on the worldwide soccer/football map.

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  18. Sort of agree with you, but there are lots of Irish decedents in NY/NJ, far more than Germans = more shirt sales over the course of the years, which there are more of with the Irishman.

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  19. The Philadelphia Union need to make a play for this guy. Philadelphia has a strong German neighborhood and he would fit right into our midfield with Gomez and Carroll.

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  20. Ballack is just upset that no one wants him. He feels he would be doing the MLS a favor in “lowering” himself to MLS, and just can’t figure out why he has no takers on an expensive CDM. He is good, could play, and contribute well to any team in the MLS but he doesn’t represent much value for money in the salary capped MLS.

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