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MLS: Eastern Conference Semifinal-New York City at Columbus Crew Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Sometimes rumors come out of nowhere. This is one of those times.

Noted MLS journalist Sam Stejskal, writing for MLSSoccer.com, reports the Portland Timbers are kicking the tires on disaffected Columbus Crew winger Justin Meram.

Meram, 29, has been nothing short of excellent for the Crew over the last four years, registering 32 goals and 29 assists in that time. Moreover, the Iraqi international is coming off a career year in 2017, a season in which he logged 13 goals and seven assists for the Eastern Conference finalists.

So Meram is good. Even really good. Starter-on-every-team-in-MLS good.

But therein lies the rub.

The Timbers are poised to acquire Andy Polo from Monarcas Morelia for a reported transfer fee of about $2 million, which would have to be payable over more than one year to fit Polo within a TAM-level contract. Given that the Timbers are making a significant financial commitment to Polo (who is especially motivated right now as he pushes for a starting spot with Peru in Russia), it seems unlikely the Timbers would pay another significant acquisition cost for a player who would likely relegate Polo to the bench at least in the short term. That is, in short, a great way to start a new, major signing off on the wrong foot.

Moreover, at 29 and approaching the end of his prime window, Meram doesn’t fit within any succession plan for the Timbers. Given that he doesn’t fit an obvious immediate need, Meram’s ill-fit for any succession plan should depress his value to the Timbers.

Simply put, although the Timbers are flush with resources, they have bigger needs — including a young, box-to-box midfielder and potentially a depth forward — on which to use those resources. And if the Timbers have resources left over to make a bit of a luxury signing, given the ages of other key contributors right now it makes more sense to bring in a younger player who could contribute as part of a next generation.

Which isn’t to say a deal is impossible. If the market for Meram isn’t as seller-friendly as the Crew would like and he’s truly looking to leave Columbus, it’s possible Meram could come available at enough of a bargain that a deal would make sense from a win-now perspective for the Timbers. Given Meram’s immediate value, however, it seems there should be a sufficiently robust market for the Crew winger that he wouldn’t come available on the cheap.

So keep tabs on this one, but there’s significant reason to see it as a little bit of a longshot.