As highly anticipated as the New York Red Bulls acquisition of Thierry Henry was, the Chicago Fire’s loan signature of Nery Castillo might have been the most shocking move of the MLS summer.
While the 32-year-old Henry is coming to New York as a player who is on his last set of legs, Castillo is only 26 years old and the Mexican player was considered such a dynamic prospect that Ukrainan powerhouse Shaktar Donestk invested 20 million Euros on the player. Injuries impaired Castillo’s opportunities to find proper footing on the team but he comes to MLS as a young player aiming to rebuild his once-promising career.
Castillo’s move has opened the eyes of many top teams around the world to the possibility of using MLS as a league to nurture young talents. Tottenham Hotspur coach Harry Redknapp is very impressed with the quality of MLS and the improving facilities and soccer pitches that the league has. When Redknapp was asked whether or not he’d be interested in loaning his young starlets Stateside, the 63-year old who once played for the Seattle Sounders in the 1970s didn’t hesitate in expressing his enthusiasm.
"Yes, sure," said Redknapp at the Barclay’s New York Challenge press conference. "The requirement would be the player needs time and would want to go. It wouldn’t be a problem because if a player needs experience, this is a good league to get it."
Agreeing with the Tottenham head coach is former U.S. international John Harkes. The first American to play in the English Premier League, Harkes believes that loan partnerships with larger European teams could be mutually beneficial for both MLS and the teams that loan their players.
The only concern that Harkes has deals with the development of young American talent, as he believes that if the league takes too many players on loan it might hinder domestic development.
"I think it can be beneficial for both, the Premier League and MLS. As long as there aren’t too many [players being loaned]: you still have to give opportunities to the young American players," Harkes told Goal.com exclusively. "It can be a nice challenge with a good mix and it can elevate the level of play here."
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