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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. The article posted the other day about Ballack and the German National team framed him basically as an egomaniac. Seems he has found and agent to match. Can’t say I would want him on the Red Bulls over Ireland either. I like the idea of Ireland. He isn’t the player who won Man City’s player of the year anymore but he would fit well in MLS. He is young, talented, and could be worth the investment long term where as most of the DPs who have come over are realistically short term investments. Ireland could be here a decade if things pan out.

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  2. When Ballack left the EPL he said the MLS was a retirement league. So I really didn’t want him on the Redbulls. I’m a man city fan if Ireland is anything from that I remember I can’t wait to see him with TH14, Rafa and Rodgers in that diamond offense

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  3. Scott, I’m no Ballack fan (far from it), but let’s be clear here. The temper tantrum seems to be thrown by his agent, not Ballack. I, for one, can’t stand the cheating and dirty Ballack, but I wouldn’t put THIS unprofessional conduct on him….. yet. 🙂

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  4. Michael Ballack is completely washed up and wouldn’t bring anything semi-positive, besides hype, for people who have no clue about current playing ability. Nothing good, besides foreign press, would come out of this sloth coming to MLS. As long as the Union don’t bat an eye at this guy I welcome him on an opposing team. I can’t imagine a team spending what he would want on a guy who USED to be good 5 years ago. He certainly doesn’t have the ability of Henry, Beckham or other “high profile” DP’s. DOOP!

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  5. NY would be championship caliber with a good, hiqh quality attacking midfielder. I personally would like to see Lampard be that third DP. They do not have more problems than that.

    RSL is already championship caliber.

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  6. What about 2 yrs ago when Ballack chose Leverkusen over MLS? He was a free agent and probably could make more $ than what BL offered but he turned down MLS. Now things
    are reversed.

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  7. I for one don’t mind aging stars if they play like Beckham and Henry. Performance wise I think they both lived up to expectations.

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  8. Yeah can’t say I’ve watched much Stephen Ireland since he was pretty nasty for M.City but my understanding of his situation is that he’s had a bit of a career decline.

    He might not necessarily be a sure success in MLS.

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  9. no – would rather have Ireland, obviously. Not sure if I disagree with Becker’s assessment of the cluelessness of Soler either, though. The two ideas are not mutually exclusive 🙂

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  10. What does “greater upside both on and off the field” mean? I get the greater upside on the field part, but “off the field”?

    Its a strange thing to say and editorializes a bit too much IMO.

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  11. I couldn’t care less about the Red Bulls, but does anyone disagree with Soler’s preference for Ireland over Ballack? A young(er) Premiership player with plenty of upside vs. the typical Europe-to-MLS near-retiree; it’s a simple choice.

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  12. i think this is a great way to rid ourselves of this “aging stars” moniker that I’m sure many Europeans view us as. we should be bringing in younger European players who may not be the big names that Henry and Ballack and Beckham are, but are still quality players that will greatly enhance the quality and respect for this league.

    right now, it shouldn’t be just about putting butts in the seats w/ big names. it should be producing quality on the field, that’s how you get non-soccer fans to realize how awesome this sport really is

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  13. True, but I think he lied about a parent or grandparent, who he was then photographed with later.

    Still, that seems like a reasonable reason to miss a game.

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  14. haha i love that last line, so true

    what he really wants to say is “WTF that little MLS team can’t snub my superstar athlete. who the f@&* is Stephen Ireland anyway.”

    New York is like yea, we just did

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  15. Ballack in his mid/late 20’s was one of the best midfielders in the entire world. I loved Michael Ballack, but he is exactly the type of player that typically comes to MLS just to collect a paycheck on his way to retirement. He has a reputation for lackadaisical play when he isn’t strongly motivated.

    I don’t disagree with the agent’s assessment of Soler, but this sounds like sour grapes for someone looking for a sucker and being disappointed. Even Soler knows better.

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  16. Ireland lied that his grandmother had died to get out of RoI national team duty. I think his wife’s miscarriage might have been the actual reason.

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  17. Amazing. Ballack handpicks out a team he wants to go to. When the team disagrees, he throws a temper tantrum. I should use this strategy when seeking jobs.

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  18. This is one agent throwing a tantrum and nothing more…clubs decline to sign certain players all the time, in this case RBNY values Ireland more than Ballack. They are probably not alone in that assessment.

    This probably makes Chicago the front runner to land Ballack.

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  19. Ireland’s the easy choice between the two, and while NY definitely has defensive troubles, a DP on D is probably not the best option.

    Ireland represents a rarity… a (relatively) well-known European player with talent, in his prime, willing to make the jump to MLS.

    Let’s not forget, attacking midfield is ANOTHER RBNY weakness. Ireland could be the missing link here, and has a decade more shelf life than Ballack.

    Is Ireland as good as Ballack was at 25? Probably not. But having the chance to bring in a DP that still has upside!? This might be the first smart thing RBNY management has done in a while.

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  20. RSL are already championship caliber, they don’t need Ballack.

    I’d be very surprised if he went to any of the top 5-6 teams (RSL, LA, Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, Dallas) in the west, he probably ends up in the Eastern Conference somewhere.

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  21. Villa have played maybe 30 games, he’s seen the field in about half.

    And he’s at the periphery of the R. Ireland NT but has had issues and with his limited PT is not dealing from a position of strength, perhaps?

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  22. “…after an incident where he lied about a death in the family to tend to his wife’s miscarriage made national news.”

    I hardly find it a lie that he had a death in the family. Isnt that what a miscarriage is?

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  23. Wow…never thought I’d see the day when guys are upset they aren’t taken by an MLS side and that they consider winning an MLS title a big accomplishment.

    Pretty promising.

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  24. Why would RSL ever want Ballack ? They have no big egos and are all about TEAM. They would never want a giant egomaniac like Ballack.

    I also think many people would take exception to not considering RSL already “championship caliber”

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  25. “Ask Erik “clueless” Soler”… wow. I dislike Soler and Backe and think both should be fired, but Ballack should also fire his agent. That is totally unprofessional. It could keep other clubs in MLS and elsewhere from wanting the headache of dealing with such an agent, and what if the Ireland to NY thing hit a snag? Ballack may not have been Plan A but now he won’t even be Plan Z thanks to his loudmouth agent.
    I’d like to see Ballack come to MLS even if it’s not to New York. Maybe Montreal or Chicago?

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  26. Why would Ireland want to come to the MLS? He’s 25 and starting games in the premier league. That would be a good sign for the MLS if he did.

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  27. I wouldn’t take either because IMO NY’s problems start in the back (4 GA, not unlike LA who can no longer pitch shutouts), but given the choice, yes, Ireland over Ballack because Ireland is younger and Ballack is not productive enough to justify the substantial paycheck. It’s not a name-dropping retirement home. M. A. T. T. H. A. U. S.

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  28. I think this is a agent lashing out over a “inferior” (not that I think so, but what a elite Euro agent would think) club snubbing his player.

    This sounds like something Ari Gold would say.

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  29. given the GIANT GAPING HOLE in the middle of the Red Bull lineup, one could understand them looking at Ballack as an answer.

    But seriously, these guys are as bad as the Mets. Come on Cosmos already…

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  30. Ballack will expect DP money. What teams does that leave?

    NY has more problems than Ballack or Ireland can fix by themselves. Ballack to a club like RSL would make them championship caliber. Won’t happen though because of cost. Somebody will put up some big money for a d mid though.

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  31. Stevie I
    will be a poor fit, just a minor upgrade to Dax. Not sure Ballack is the answer, but in any case expect NYRB and GM Soler to do the worst.

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  32. I cant believe the Union want this guy. We have enough of a problem finding minutes for our players, even with Nowak playing stupid formations and stupid lineups and missing 2 players to the Olympics.
    Hopefully he doesn’t want to come to Philly.

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