The recent announcement of the New York Red Bull’s signing of Brazilian, Juninho, was a bit of a shock and certainly garnered my attention. Read the official release for more details Red Bulls Sign Brazilian Star Midfielder Juninho
Although Juninho was a stand out at Olympique Lyonnais, the player’s recent stints in the Middle East and Brazil leave much to wonder what he will bring New York.
To state the obvious, is to say Juninho is midfield support for Thierry Henry, in that he will provide much needed service to the French legend and provide the creative spark through the middle of the park.
My question is, How long will he last?
If he is 37 or 38, depending on what source on the internet you believe, that’s pretty old even for MLS’s standard. How long will his contract be for? Two, Three years?
Perhaps we should look at the precedent for this type of player in the MLS. I remember the Columbus Crew signed a thirty something by the name of Guillermo Barros Schelotto in 2006-2007. Schelotto went on to score 33 goals and have 41 assists during his time in Columbus which included an MLS Cup Title.
It was almost heartbreaking to see the Crew not pick up his option, nor any of the expansion clubs either. Schelotto now has found employment as head coach of Lanus in Argentina with his twin brother as the assistant coach.
What is important to remember with Schelotto was the impact he had on the players around him. His creativity and guile through the middle of the park made his teammates better and facilitated a winning attitude.
The other example is, David Ferreira of FC Dallas, who is currently still on the roster for the North Texas club. While the player officially signed with FC Dallas in 2010, he did spend a year on loan from Atletico Paranaense in 2009 but it wasn’t until the following year when he began to blossom. In 2010, Ferreira earned league MVP and was named to the MLS Best IX and an MLS Allstar nod. Not to mention guiding FC Dallas to the MLS Cup.
Ferreira is still only 33, but has made a significant impact as a creative and offensive minded midfield player.
What I feel is important about both of these players is that they both possess an offensive game. They both possess creativity in the final third. And, they both make the other players on the pitch better. More importantly, they were both signed in their early thirties.
While Juninho, may in fact be a superior talent …. he is 37 and unless New York signed him for a three year contract, I’m not sure what signing him is going to accomplish.
The precedent for a creative South American player has been set but Juninho clearly favors the European game, outside of playing in Brazil.
You could say that helping Qatari club Al-Gharafa take home the league title while winning player of the year was evidence the player can still contribute. I will say that those honors came right after his career ended with Lyon, so he was still capable of playing at that level.
If a team like the New York Red Bulls wanted to sign a player like Juninho, it should have been in 2009 not in 2012. We have seen Gerard Houllier’s misguided attempts with Aston Villa in the EPL, but I think this signing is more to placate a Thierry Henry, rather than to stay competitive.
But perhaps, that is precisely the plan, be competitive for a few years while helping Henry to win an MLS Cup title and let the Parisian retire a conqueror of American Soccer.
Where have we seen this before (David Beckham)?