Posted January 08, 2014

Michael Bradley to Toronto FC? USA star reportedly set for shocking transfer

Americans Abroad, Grant Wahl, Michael Bradley, MLS, Toronto FC
Michael Bradley

Michael Bradley appears set for a shock move to Toronto FC, according to reports. (Hans Punz/AP)

Is Michael Bradley, the most indispensable player on the U.S. men’s national team, about to make a stunning transfer from Roma to Toronto FC?

That was the question on the minds of U.S. soccer fans after ESPN’s Taylor Twellman tweeted that Toronto was “on the verge of signing” Bradley on Wednesday afternoon.

Here’s what I know right now:

• Bradley’s agent, Ron Waxman, said he had “no comment” when I asked him about the possibility of Bradley moving to Toronto. (For what it’s worth, Waxman often outright denies things when I ask him. For instance, a few days ago Waxman denied a report that Bradley was set to meet with Roma officials about his future.)

• Perennially bottom-feeding Toronto is making the biggest splash of any MLS team this offseason to land big-name players. The push is coming from Tim Leiweke, who’s in his first year as the president of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns TFC. (Leiweke is the man who landed David Beckham for Los Angeles in 2007.)

Toronto’s push includes the likelihood of signing Tottenham forward Jermain Defoe to a giant contract in the next few days. On Wednesday afternoon, a high-ranking Toronto source told me the team was hoping to announce Defoe signing on Monday. When I asked about Toronto potentially acquiring Bradley, the source said: “That would be the greatest day ever in MLS.”

WAHL: Defoe closing in on TFC move

• An Italian source told me Bradley is on Roma’s transfer list and he wants to play more ahead of World Cup 2014. The source said Roma is asking for a $10.9 million transfer fee, however, adding that Bradley’s Roma salary is $1.09 million annually after taxes on a contract that lasts two-and-a-half more seasons.

Bradley was a regular starter for Roma last season, but the club has added players who can play Bradley’s position more recently, including Kevin Strootman last summer and Radja Nainggolan this week. Still, the Italian source was also doubtful that Bradley would want to come back to MLS at age 26, not least when he may have other options in Europe and has always spoken of his aspirations to play at the highest levels of European club soccer.

The Star in Toronto is reporting that the moves for Defoe and Bradley would total $100 million between transfer fees and player salaries. In order to bring both in, the club would either have to deal or restructure the contract of Matias Laba. The offseason signing of Gilberto as a Designated Player gave the club two DPs (Gilberto and Laba), and Defoe and Bradley would be coming in on DP deals (Like Clint Dempsey did last summer, Bradley could circumvent the MLS Allocation Order — reserved for returning U.S. national team players — by signing as a DP). MLS teams are only permitted to have three DPs.

• That would also mean that Dwayne De Rosario, who the club announced is going to be re-introduced as a signing Thursday after being selected in the MLS Re-Entry Draft, will not be a DP. That is hardly surprising considering he turns 36 in May, but he earned $645,333.33 with D.C. United last season in guaranteed compensation, according to the most recent MLS Players’ Union numbers.

12 comments
timbrrrr
timbrrrr

There's a few things that immediately pop into mind regarding this:


- MLS is spending a boatload of cash chasing players because their TV deals are up for renewal soon, and their viewership numbers are atrocious, especially when compared to the EPL. They know they need some type of star power to sell to the networks or else the amount of money coming from potential broadcasters will be minimal at best.


- For Bradley and most top American players, MLS is not the place to be. Forget the league's quality of play for a second (though it's far below what level these guys need to be honing their games at); if Bradley signs for TFC, he's guaranteed a spot in the XI every match - he has to be, because he's the draw. There's no fighting for time, no battling for your spot, and complacency will set in, no matter how determined or motivated a player may be. This is a bad thing; it's the battles in training that push you to improve, to stay sharp, because you're either challenging the guy ahead of you or fighting off a challenge from the guy behind you. This won't happen in Toronto for Bradley, and his game (and the USMNT's) will suffer as a result.

spikevicious
spikevicious

So Roma is asking for $11M transfer fee for MB, who makes $1.1M with 2.5 years left on his current deal.  That's $13.75M.


JD's fransfer is reportedly L6M, according to another site.  He signed a new 3-year extension in August 2012 on L240000 a month at the time, which is worth in salary upwards of L5M remaining.


At the current exchange rate, L12M (L5M + L6M + a little extra for JD's extension) is about $20M (a nice round number).  $13.75M + $20M = $33.75M.  I fail to see how a deal for the pair of them will be $100M (L61M), unless these guys are in line for some hefty raises.  Something screwy with the math on this, or MLS is really loosening the purse strings.

PAQuaker
PAQuaker

This is a bad strategy for MLS.  The quality of play will not improve by having 1 or 2 great players and 9 below average players making $100k.  Instead of having a cap of $2.8M (or whatever it is) and two DPs making $5M each, I'd rather see that $12M spread out over the entire squad so that the overall quality of the league improves.  I can't blame MB for taking a $30M package when he currently earns $1M/year at Roma.  For MLS, what's the point of having MB hit killer passes and orchestrate the play if no one else one the team has great technique?  

Matthew W
Matthew W

Big Signing for MLS


Big Mistake for Bradley


Should have stayed in Europe. He played very well for Roma for the past couple of years, but the new manager doesn't seem to care for him in their formation. 


Surprised United didn't pick him up for basically nothing. He would instantly improve their midfield with some steel, hard work, and passing....United has no midfield beyond the aging breaking down Carrick.

josebier
josebier

Finally a Toronto sports team that seems to be heading in the right direction. After 7 horrendous seasons it looks like TFC fans might just have a reason to be optimistic for the first time EVER!

eliar3
eliar3

Playing in Toronto is better than sitting for Roma.  But playing even B-level in Europe is better than MLS.

Smoothkaos
Smoothkaos

No Bradley, come to Sporting instead!  Make KC a DYNASTY!

newshamg
newshamg

@spikevicious You are correct - the reporter for the Canadian articles got his sums wrong. Drastically wrong.


Bradley plus Defoe combined (salaries plus transfers) would be of the order you state - in fact probably less. Defoe will be taking a pay cut in all likelihood.

positivewins
positivewins

@PAQuakerI also would like to see an upgrade in MLS rosters, but I doubt that even having an extra $500,000 per player is going to allow MLS to attract a lot better talent than it currently enjoys. The League would have to find players somewhere in the world that would represent an improvement in quality, but are only making $250,000 or something like that.  In addition, all the Designated Players - who by-and-large represent the most talented players - would leave for greener pastures.

Chris_Tian
Chris_Tian

@josebierAy man! The Raptors are a playoff team this season and seems to be heading on the right direction. Lets wait for TFC to play the first 5 games before making our judgement. Remember the offseason Blue Jays last year? They were suppose to be a top team and look what happen. But I too will be excited if they get Bradley.

Joebuckster
Joebuckster

@Smoothkaos A dynasty in a boring sport that nobody watches save for a handful of English ex-pats! Woo-Hoo!!

thebeachbumm
thebeachbumm

Did you really come to a SOCCER forum, just to bash soccer? It's crazy to me that people go out of their way to trash something they ate oblivious to.