Commenter Dan Brunell gives us a break down of potential forward transfer targets for the Timbers from Gavin Wilkinson and Caleb Porter's recent trip to South America.
No days off for Timbers. I'm told Porter + Wilkinson heading to S. America on scouting trip. Forward and CB sure to top shopping list #RCTID— Ives Galarcep (@SoccerByIves) November 30, 2013
So this tweet by Ives sent my brain into overdrive the last week and a half. Who would I look at. I might break this out over several posts because this list might get long.
Forwards: I think with the lack of news concerning Piquonne, Valencia's loan, and the rumors surrounding RJ, it tells me we are in the market for a striker - perhaps a Designated Player one. With that in mind, I would perhaps look at some of the following players from South America. Mind you I've tried to keep this realistic of who we might be able to get. For example, no way that someone like Leandro Damião would come to MLS because he's 24 and has big European clubs looking at him. That why I've put a rough cap of 5 million Euro for any valuation of players I'm looking at. That's the market where I think we're in. So here we go.
28 years old
Striker - Millonarios FC (Colombia) - Colombian
Value on TransferMarket.com: One million Euros
Positives: Awesome goal celebrations. Really has a nose for goal. Can poach a goal and create his own shot. Big and physical style of play - think of a cross between Valencia and Dike. Great in the air. Very comfortable playing in a single striker system. Holds the ball very well. Can play facing and with his back to goal equally well. Battle tested in the Copa Liberdoras. Links up play well.
Negatives: Has had a lingering bust title to his name. Has bounced around Brazil and Portugal a lot with their big clubs - Porto, Braga, CA Mineiro, and Santos. Only the second year into his new deal which means Millonarios may want to keep him. Shot to goal ratio really not that great.
Would I sign him if I was the Timbers? Yes. Wason is really a combination of Dike and Valencia. He has the dribbling and skill of Valencia and has the physical beast-ness of Dike in a more mature package. I really like his style of play and - I think - would fit Caleb system. For a forward, he has a lot of tools - he can pass, play with his back to goal, run at defenders, poach goals, and physical enough to perhaps require two defenders to mark him. One thing is holding me back a bit from going gun-ho about the guy - I wish he was stronger in the air. He's OK and has scored a few times, but I think we really need someone who can be a threat in one box and a safety net in the other.
27 years old
Second Striker - Racing Club (Argentina), currently on loan to Chievo Verona (Italy) - Argentinean
Value on Transfer Market.com: 1.5 million Euros
Positives: Awesome nickname "Demonio" (Demon). As the nickname might indicate, he has amazing work rate. Out-hustles and out-runs back lines. Great finisher. Great passer. Fantastic vision. High footballing IQ. Covers an amazing amount of ground. Would be amazing to see in Porter's pressing style of play - could thrive as a MLS counter attacking forward. Racing are trying to move him because they have a crop of young talented strikers coming up - hence the loan move. Fun to watch. Plays bigger than his size indicates.
Negatives: Pretty grounded in his game. Can head but doesn't get too far into the air. Not the biggest guy at 5'6''. Plays facing the goal and doesn't hold the ball up. While the effort is there, he is a sub-par defender ... like most Argentine forwards.
Would I sign him if I was the Timbers? Yes he's small for a center forward striker. However the guy is fun to watch and extremely talented. He's the extremely poor man's Messi in terms of playing style and skill set. I always felt that he was a right player / wrong playing style sort of guy. If you put him as a false nine with some bigger wingers, he would be a terror. He would be a good player to have on the roster if we had a bigger forward to compliment him like a Piquonne. He would get and create a heap of goals for us. If we are chasing a game, can think of no better player to throw onto the park. For me, worth a Valeri-type DP contract.
20 years old
Striker - Universidad Católica (Chile) - Chilean
Value on Transfer Market.com - 100k Euros (Bet he goes for between 5-7 million Euros this summer)
Positives: The kid is amazing. Skillful, athletic, smart, and predatory. He can play the role of creator or finisher. Can play with his back to or facing goal. Can head, hit the ball with both feet, and distribute. He also has great Footballing IQ and work rate.
People compare him to El Shaarawy because how he moves. Some compare him to Zlatan because of his nose for goal. Personally, he reminds me a awful lot of a young pre- Celtic Henrik Larsson. He has all the gifts, abilities, and make up you want in a striker. Has been lighting it up with the Chilean under 20's and wouldn't be surprised if he makes their World Cup roster. One of my favorite young South American players to watch.
Negatives: The only negative I see in this kid might be out of our price range already.
Would I sign him if I was the Timbers? Yes. The only problem is that half of Latin Europe is also after him. I think he is out of Timbers / MLS' price range but certainly worth a shot.
28 years old
Second Striker - Millonarios Fútbol Club (Colombia) - Colombian
Value on TransferMarket.com: 1.7 million Euros
Positives: Very skillful. Good vision. Good passer. Good speed. Great at putting shots on target. Always seems to be in the right place. Pretty high footballing IQ. Probably the best striker in the Colombian league. Still has more than a few years to play at his peak. Little to no injury record.
Negatives: OK in the air but pretty grounded. Despite a decent scoring haul, has really never stuck to one club. Has a habit of phasing in and out of games.
Would I sign him if I was the Timbers? I put Moreno on the list because he is in the right price range, would fit our style, and is worth a look. I think he is worth a DP contract.
23 years old
Striker - Sporting Cristal (Peru) - Peruvian
Value on Transfer Market.com: 75k Euros
Positives: The one of the smallest - 5'6" - foxes in the box you'll ever see. Always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Tough and physical with a really good shot. Probably the best domestic player in Peru. Looking to move abroad.
Negatives: The Peruvian league is hard to tell how good a player is because of how mediocre the league's overall talent is. Would need to see more tape before adjudicating his footballing IQ, passing, and if he would fit in Caleb's system.
Would I sign him if I was the Timbers? I think he is worth a look. I would put him more of a trial or bring him on loan. Probably wouldn't bust the bank. There might be a gem there but more information is needed.
34 years old
Striker - Sport Club Internacional (Brazil) - Uruguayan
Value on Transfer Market.com: 1,000,000 Euros
Positives: I don't know... how about being one of the top 10 strikers of the 2000's for starters. A complete forward who can change a game. For a 34-year-old still moves about surprisingly well. Can really lead a attacking line and still change a game.
Negatives: His age and injury record does make me nervous - especially on our turf. He really hasn't settle in well into clubs since leaving Athletico Madrid. Both his Inter and International stints have been mediocre by his standards. Lot more of a poacher now than the complete forward he used to be.
Would I sign him if I was the Timbers? He would bring something to the team and would be worth a DP contract, however could we offer the money that International is probably giving him? Probably not. Not only that, I don't think he has much left in the tank. The games I've seen him play at International have been mediocre. Lot of penalty goals. Lot of poachers open shots. I don't know if he would mix well into our high pressing, athletic style. As much as it pains me, I would pass. Put it this way, if there is a video titled "Player X finally scores" that has been release in the last 12 months, it's probably best that you pass.
33 years old
Attacking midfield / left wing - Clube Athetico Mineiro - Brazillian
Value on Transfer Market.com: 1,500,000 Euros
I know this is supposed to be about forwards but the idea of a Ronaldinho / Valeri / Nagbe midfield attacking three has given me the vapors. It wouldn't matter who you have at striker. Those three would destroy defenses all by themselves. Ronaldinho may of lost his speed. He may of lost his stamina. But my god does he still have his touch.
If MLS wants to make waves in terms of developing a must see TV package, they need to target players like Ronaldinho come into the league. Players like Ronaldinho make you want to watch the game.
--- --- ---
Conclusion: So out of this list, who would I go for? Being realistic, I think I would target both Moreno and Hauche to see if I could get one. I think both would do extremely well in MLS and play to our team's strengths. Both are at the right market point, stage in career, and skills to fit what we need. I don't like their aerial abilities but that is a lot easier to find in MLS than the raw talent they bring to the table.
Miss anyone? What and who do you think?
I am going to try to do one on South America defenders soon.