For the first time in recent history, D.C. United is rumored to spend quite a bit of money on big name players in the upcoming summer transfer window. Last summer, it was players like Nigel de Jong and Gary Medel whose names flew around as potential signings for the black and red, but United cashed in on U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder Paul Arriola and other players.
The speculation has ramped up a bit. Sports Illustrated reported that D.C. has been in contact with Italian striker Mario Balotelli’s agent in hopes of acquiring his services once his contract with OGC Nice runs out this summer. Steven Goff also reported that D.C. United has a “wish list” of players, including the likes of Balotelli, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Carlos Tevez. Finally, a name floating around with less substance to it is World Cup winner Fernando Torres.
In short, all of these names besides Tevez makes sense in some way. If D.C. United want to get out of the basement of Major League Soccer, marquee signings are necessary. In the Sports Illustrated report, a club source stated that United plans to go from one Designated Player to three this summer.
Breaking down each rumor
As of now, the Balotelli rumor is the only one where it has been confirmed that the club has been in contact with the player. The Italian would be a great acquisition for D.C., but the biggest issue is that Balotelli has been really turning a corner in his career lately. From his antics as a young player, his time at Nice has proven he still is a good player and can stay away from controversy. At 27-years-old, Balotelli still has years left where he can compete at the highest stage. If United finds a way to shell out enough money, the story can end differently. Other than that, expect Balotelli to stay in Europe for a couple more years.
Tevez will not become a D.C. United player for two reasons. First, he’s wrapping up his career. At 34-years-old, he’s likely not going to leave his boyhood club (again). Secondly, when he left for Shanghai Shenhua in 2017, he was criticized for blatantly not giving his best. It’s obvious the move was to make a bit more money before he hangs up his boots. At 34, why wouldn’t United try to go for younger options, even if they’re not as proven as Tevez?
Chicharito Hernandez is another interesting option, and could arguably bring in the most people locally. To say Washington, D.C. is a melting pot is an understatement. With a recognizable name like Javier Hernandez, more people will want to go see the Mexican National Team star. At 30-years-old, Hernandez has fallen out of favor at West Ham. This would be a good move for D.C. if they want a player who has more than a year or two left in him.
Fernando Torres is rumored to be on D.C.’s radar. Like Tevez, Torres is 34-years-old and has limited years left in his career compared to Balotelli and Hernandez. The Spanish striker hit world-class stardom during his time at Liverpool, but his transfer to Chelsea spelled the downfall of Torres. He currently plays for Atletico Madrid, where he usually comes on as a substitute. Torres has gained a clinical touch that could be successful in MLS, but his age and uncertainty of true skill are red flags when it comes to bringing a new face to lead the way.
Overall, Balotelli would be the best get for D.C. United. As for Hernandez, the competition to get him will be fierce. United could go the route of grabbing an up and coming star who may not be well-known, but until July 10th, we’ll just have to wait and see.