NEW YORK -- In what has become an annual affair for the New York Red Bulls, speculation persists over who the club is targeting with its third Designated Player slot.
Former World Player of the Year Kaka has been recognized as the team's top choice but there is a belief that he will want to wait until after next year's World Cup before making a decision. Kaka's brother Digao, however, would not dismiss the possibility of the attacking midfielder arriving stateside this summer.
"It's hard to say. Soccer changes very rapidly. It is a dream that he has, to come and play in the U.S., and hopefully it will come true soon," Digao told Goal.com through a translator.
"I think he's been very curious about soccer in the United States and New York and about my experience living here," Digao added. "I've been relaying good things to him. He's expressed his interest in one day playing in the United States."
It would appear to be a no-brainer for New York to jump on the opportunity to sign Kaka, who currently plays for Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid, but some members within the Red Bulls' front office are torn on whether pursuing Kaka is the best option.
A well-placed source revealed that Kaka is a target for New York but there are some within the club who believe the club should pursue a top young player who is in his prime rather than one who is exiting his best years. Kaka turns 31 in April and has had a history of struggling with injury during his time at Madrid.
The source said that the club wants to avoid having another Rafa Marquez, who brought negative attention to the squad by missing several matches, lashing out on his teammates and getting tossed out of major matches.
"Rafa Marquez didn't sell a single ticket for the Red Bulls and failed to bring any [positive] attention to the team," the team source said.
MLS fans and the league have been clamoring for a young elite star to come for years, but it may not be a realistic dream at this point. However, according to the source, New York has already been in touch with a few interested players who fit what the club is looking for. Though the source wouldn't get into specific names, a MLS executive believes that no one should be surprised at the caliber of players that it can attract.
"It is reasonable to say that any player in the world is within the realm of possibility for an MLS club," MLS Vice President of Competition and Player Relations Lino DiCuollo told Goal.com via email.
"The fact that David Beckham and Thierry Henry both signed with MLS at age 31 [Henry arrived at 32] shows that to be true, as do the arrivals this past offseason."
Red Bulls Sporting Director Andy Roxburgh refused to elaborate on the team's interest in Kaka or other potential names, stressing that he didn't want to aggravate any current club of a targeted signing. He also insisted that the Red Bulls are in no rush to sign a player strictly for his marketability and will consider players who fit a specific need.
"If we are pursuing someone, which position are we talking about? The people here assume that if we get a DP, it has to be an attacking player," Roxburgh told Goal.com. "Maybe we need a center back, who knows...It depends on what the team needs. If we need someone for a specific role then why not? But that whole thing for the moment, remains open."
Roxburgh also stated that it is realistic that the club could hold off signing a DP in 2013. He pointed to the fact the club already signed a star player in Juninho and that team chemistry is important to success.
"It all depends on how it looks. If we think its necessary, we'll do it," Roxburgh said. "If we don't, we'll wait. If you look at the two finalists from last year, one of them didn't have any DPs."
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