With the rumors circulating of players coming to MLS -- Pirlo to New York City FC?! -- and Merritt Paulson hinting at a designated player signing, there are tons of potential players that could be picked up by the Portland Timbers. There are plenty of variables to bringing another DP into the league, but there is enough to say a new DP may be coming.
Designated player and international slot, money, and the league office will certainly be issues for the Timbers. Clearing those obstacles may be a tumultuous road for the Timbers if they want a new DP, but it may be what they need to strut into playoff and cup contention.
Many times it has been said by Portland fans that they do not want to sign an old, retiring player just looking for a cash grab. At the same time it is tough to grab the young guns, but there are plenty of free agents with life in them yet that could be added to the team. A Giovinco-like signing may be outside the realm of possibility, but there are great options that aren't pushing 40.
The players listed below are all on free trades and are realistic to the buying power of the team; buying out a twenty million dollar contract probably is not going to happen. Conditions have to be right to steal a quality player from a league like the Premiership and there are a few here that fit the build and have plenty of soccer left in them.
The Togolese striker has had an uncertain future over the last year and several times it has been leaked that there is interest from him in a possible MLS move. Adebayor is thirty-one years old, which is not a fresh player, but he definitely has plenty of soccer left and can add tons to a team with his quality. Adebayor is 6ft 4in and a powerful player known for his shot and his physicality. These two attributes would be absolutely welcomed into the team at Portland. Pairing him with Urutti or Adi could be fantastic or setting him up top alone with Valeri behind him. With the ever-changing striking situation in Portland, he could add some consistency to the striking.
The English international has had a solid career in the Premier League, but the last few years has struggled to find starting time in his teams. Bent, who is also thirty-one years old, still has plenty of years left in his legs. Like Adebayor, Bent has a great shot, and solid strength, but lacks the pace of the quicker strikers over in England. His attributes could fit quite well with the Timbers. Currently, Bent is on loan to Championship side Derby County from Aston Villa. A solid prospect if he is willing to make the move to the states.
This will be a tougher negotiation because on loan Gutiérrez brought Norwich City back to the Premier League this season, but at 31 he may be interested in a move away from England. Newcastle, his home club, have officially stated they will not offer him a contract (and did so in unfortunate fashion). In Portland he has plenty of Argentinians to ease the move and Gutiérrez has been in England for years so language will be no issue. An attacking winger and midfielder, Gutiérrez is a decently pacey player with great playmaking decisions and vision. Slotted into the Timbers attacking group, Gutiérrez could be a potential deadly mesh with Valeri. Moreover, Gutiérrez is a physical player and likes to fiercely contest balls, fitting with the Timbers' preference for aggressive ball-winning.
The older Brother of New York Red Bulls' Bradley Wright-Phillips and son of former Premier League star Ian Wright is on a free trade now. This one might be a long-shot based on his salary of 3 million GBP as of two seasons ago, but with his brother in the league and him rarely seeing starting time in the Premiership, a starting spot in Portland might entice him. SWP is a winger, but easily could be converted to a striker in the current system. With ties to the States already, at 33-years-old SWP could be a contributor to this Timbers side for several years yet.
A relatively pacey defender who is a jack of all trades on defense, Baird could fit in as an option on the back line or as a defensive midfield option to shore up the Timbers' defense against the more dynamic attacking sides in MLS. Baird has moved around mid-table teams in England most of his career with a decent a decent number of caps for Northern Ireland. At 5ft 11in he is not enormous but he is a gritty and versatile player that could add a lot to the team. Admittedly, with the Timbers' offensive woes this may not be the first choice for many, but there is no question that he could add quality and stability to the back-line and lower midfield as a leader for the team. It is painfully clear fans want a striker but he is a valid option and a top quality player that is possible to pick up.
Come back next time when we take a look at the Bundesliga and, in the mean time, share your picks for a potential Timbers designated player from the EPL in the comments below.