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Petke pours cold water on Xavi, Drogba rumors

XaviBarcelona3-Malaga (Getty)


With every offseason comes unfounded rumors about the New York Red Bulls being on the verge of signing big-name players.

This one has apparently been no different.

New York Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke spoke to a handful of reporters via a conference call on Thursday to discuss the club’s two selections in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, but he also took some time to address recent reports linking the Red Bulls with signing either Barcelona midfielder Xavi or Galatasaray striker Didier Drogba as their third Designated Player for the 2014 season.

The Xavi rumor has especially gained traction in recent days (though he has also been linked by foreign media with a move to upcoming expansion side New York City FC), but Petke wasted no time in pouring cold water on that rumor as well as the one about Drogba.

“Listen, there was a rumor not long ago about Ashley Cole. There’s always rumors,” said an amused Petke. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that any team would want Xavi or even Drogba as well. Are we linked to them? I’m linked just automatically in just the fact that something like that came out in the paper. Man, I’m linked right away.

“Have we been flying over to Spain and meeting with (Xavi) and on the phone? As far as I know, I haven’t been. But if there is a desire on his part there and he’s into it and Red Bull would do something like that, I’m pretty sure any team would jump on that but a lot has to fall into place.

“I know I skirted around that, but as far as I know we have not been actively chasing or meeting with Xavi. We’ll see how this plays out.”

One player that Petke admitted the club has “been presented” is Venezuelan playmaker Ronald Vargas. The 27-year-old Vargas currently plies his trade with RSC Anderlecht in the Pro League in Belgium, but he has been associated with a move to New York on more than one occasion.

Still, Petke made it clear that signings are not imminent just because the Red Bulls consider players.

“The one thing that everybody needs to realize that just because we say we’re looking to add a certain key or certain position, it doesn’t always work out,” said Petke, referencing his comments from earlier in the offseason in which he said New York wanted to sign a creative player. “There’s a lot to take into consideration. Again, I know, yawn and same thing over and over again, but the salary cap, what we have money to spend on. But you also have to realize that we accomplished something last year with a certain system.

“To bring in a player solely for a withdrawn (role) behind two strikers or creative attacking midfielder changes the way you play, so a lot of things go into it. In a perfect world, I would love to have the ideal playmaker at midfield, but you can’t just snap your fingers and get something.”

Petke then went on to use Toronto FC’s recent acquisitions of U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Michael Bradley and England international Jermaine Defoe as an example of how teams who struggle are the ones capable of really making a large overhaul during the offseason.

“For instance, the signings for Toronto, the big signings they’ve had recently, this is a team that finished towards the bottom (of the standings in 2013),” said Petke. “They really cleaned house, freed up money, and they saved their allocation added over the years and were able to do something like that.

“We realize that we don’t need to make a big change. We do have to add some certain positions and certain things, but right now, where we are, I wouldn’t be devastated (if things stayed as is).”


  1. It pisses me off to no end that NYC has 3 pro-soccer clubs- and upstate can’t get one above the USL-Pro.


    The only non- MLS squad to win the US Open Cup? Rochester Rhinos.


    • I’ve been thinking to myself it would be cool to try and get one in Albany. I did a little research and there was a club called the Albany Capitals that played there I think from ’89-’92 in the A-League when that was the first tier in the US. John Harkes and Paul Mariner each played there at one point. Maybe with enough work and some money, they could be remade? I think that would be the coolest thing ever. Even if they were only going to play in the USL Pro or NASL.

  2. Xavi and Drogba know the Cosmos, a worldwide brand that was the most important soccer club in U.S. history. They are probably not familiar with these other two NYC pretenders.

  3. I’m not a NYRB supporter by any means. But I do follow Anderlecht because of Kljestan. Ronald Vargas would be a gamble – dude has already blown out his knee a couple of times and has barely seen the pitch in the last three years. Lots of promise as a true #10, but can’t stay healthy.

    • He’s worth the risk at the right price. Plus, “blowing out his knee twice” is being a little harsh. He’s had two right knee injuries, yes. But, they haven’t been the type that Stu Holden has had that have kept him out for entire seasons. He’s missed a total of 10 months with these 2 injuries. While it is a concern, when he is healthy he could be one of the best CAMs in MLS.

      Red Bulls took the same gamble when Dane Richards left and they signed the “always injured” Lloyd Sam. He’s been pretty healthy and has been our most efficient attacker outside of Henry and Cahill since he came to NY.

  4. spoken like a true New Yorker.. that barely made any sense but I get what he is saying!

    the East is going to be a lot more difficult this year than it ever has, that plus CCL -> NYRB need to add a few components.

  5. As a season ticket holder, I have been patient with holding back my criticism because I understand that adding the right pieces to this puzzle take time. BUT, if Petke is not “devastated” if we keep the status quo THEN he needs a reality check/therapy! There is no way the defense, made up of two aging center backs and two semi-serviceable outside backs can play regular season, US cup and Champions League And still be ready for MLS playoffs! We need quality at every position and backups or this team will FAIL! No one can argue that, not Petke, his staff or Red Bull management!

    • I think RBNY know they need some reinforcements. I also understand Petke’s desire to play it cool in his public statements. The team certainly can’t go into the very congested upcoming season with its current roster. I’d be worried if this were still the Hans “Northern Europe Can Fill All Our Needs” Backe era, but I’m not going to panic because I think the current management team has earned a little bit of patience based on their performance over the recent past.

  6. While a creative midfield player is a must have, I do appreciate RB’S patience on this. After so many years of BS bravado, I’m digging the cautious approach.


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