The MLS club has needed attacking midfielder for years, and a move for the Brazilian star would fill all its needs, especially with news that Thierry Henry may retire.
So who better to fill the team's needs and provide the perfect insurance policy than Brazilian superstar Ronaldinho?
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The toothy playmaker has left Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro, and the Red Bulls would be wise to jump into the fight to land his services before he joins Xavi on the list of star midfielders who MLS let get away this summer.
Sources tell Goal USA that while Red Bulls team officials did meet with Ronaldinho representatives during the World Cup, there were no serious conversations about having Ronaldinho join the Red Bulls at that time.
The Red Bulls might want to reconsider that stance, if they haven't already.
Adding Ronaldinho would address several needs for the Red Bulls, who defeated Arsenal on Saturday in a friendly in Harrison, New Jersey. For one, signing Ronaldinho would give the team a sorely needed attacking midfielder to help take some of the playmaking responsibilities from Henry. Secondly, landing Ronaldinho could help pursuade Henry to sign a new contract, with his current deal set to expire at the end of the season.
Henry and Ronaldinho were teammates at Barcelona during the 2007-08 season.
Red Bulls head of global soccer Gerard Houllier stated Saturday that he thinks Henry will retire after this season, which would put serious pressure on the club to sign a high-profile star to fill the void Henry's departure would leave. Ronaldinho is the type of player who could do that, both on and off the field.
The Red Bulls could also be feeling the pressure to land another big name after New York City FC's recent signings of Frank Lampard and David Villa. With NYCFC set to begin play in 2015, the Red Bulls run the risk of losing a greater share of the New York market if they don't improve the roster.
Signing Ronaldinho would do just that.
This isn't to say signing the 34-year-old wouldn't have its share of risk. The 2002 World Cup winner is known for his partying lifestyle, and living in New York would offer Ronaldinho plenty of opportunity to enjoy the nightlife, which might not be the best thing for a team investing millions in him. Ronaldinho showed during his time at Atletico Mineiro, and through last year's Copa Libertadores, that he can still work his magic and be an impact player, but his abrupt departure from Atletico Mineiro also has to give the Red Bulls some pause.
Ronaldinho also doesn't speak English, which has been virtual prerequisite for the list of stars who have played for the Red Bulls (and previous incarnation MetroStars). It would limit the impact he could have from a marketing standpoint. That said, Ronaldinho does speak Spanish, which would help him provide some marketing muscle into a demographic where the Red Bulls tried and failed to tap into with the signing of Mexican national team captain Rafa Marquez.
And it just might be Marquez who has the Red Bulls a bit wary about splashing the cash. They basically wasted $15 million on Marquez's tenure with the club, and would probably have to invest more than that to land the Brazilian playmaker, who doesn't quite have a "can't-miss" label attached to him.
Though risky, signing Ronaldinho is one of the few options the Red Bulls have to help offer some tangible insurance for the possibility that Henry retires. Not to mention the possibility that Australian star Tim Cahill could be ready to end his time with the Red Bulls to return to Australia ahead of the 2015 Asian Cup. There have been rumblings about a potential Cahill move, and losing him would be a big blow to the Red Bulls because of what he means to the team from a production and leadership standpoint.
Even if Henry and Cahill do return to the Red Bulls in 2015, adding Ronaldinho could still be a masterstroke for a team currently struggling to meet expectations after winning the MLS Supporters' Shield in 2013. Ronaldinho's presence could allow Henry to focus more on scoring goals rather than being the playmaker he has effectively been forced to be the past two seasons, and signing Ronaldinho just might help convince Henry to stick around beyond 2014 rather than retire.
With a new rival setting up shop nearby, and two star players who may or may not stick around beyond this year, the Red Bulls would be wise to consider signing Ronaldinho, or regret the missed opportunity.