Joel Campbell, Bryan Ruiz and Cristian Gamboa appear to be on the outs at their respective clubs. One of them should consider a move to MLS.
Being the proud Tico that I am, I want to see members of my national team play at the highest level possible. I also have to be realistic. Not everyone will get the same opportunity as Keylor Navas — a two-time Champions League winner for the biggest club in the world.
Below is the ideal club for three of Costa Rica’s most influential players.
When a club strips you of your number, they strip you of your identity. You no longer exist. That’s the message Sporting Lisbon is sending Ruiz.
At 31, the captain’s time in Europe has run its course. He can officially bow out and return to this side of the ocean with his head held high.
Just not to MLS.
Both Tigres and Cruz Azul are reportedly interested in acquiring Ruiz, according to Portuguese outlet Record. If you haven’t paid attention to Liga MX lately, Cruz Azul are an absolute shit show and I wouldn’t wish them on my worst enemy. The last time they even qualified for the Liguilla was the 2014 Clausura.
Tigres on the other hand, have been the standard in Mexican soccer — winning a Copa MX and two league titles since then.
Admittedly, Tigres’ forward line is beyond crowded. Ismael Sosa, Eduardo Vargas, Andre-Pierre Gignac and Javier Aquino are just a few of the names head coach Ricardo Ferretti can call on. Minutes won’t be guaranteed, but this isn’t a second-rate player we’re talking about. This is a player with World Cup and Champions League experience.
He’ll be more than able to hold his own.
Unlike Jozy Altidore, Campbell has proven he can play at a high level in Europe, so stop dreaming of a sudden move to MLS.
Seriously, stop it. You’re starting to piss me off.
Only 25, the soon-to-be Arsenal reject — who never got his fair shot — will need a new home. It will be his sixth club in as many years. Premier League newcomers Brighton & Hove Albion have been linked with the Tico, according to talkSPORT.
Even Real Betis — where Campbell spent the 2012-13 campaign on loan — have been mentioned.
But if you’ve been following Campbell’s career — and not just the games where he embarrasses the shit out of John Brooks — his best moments at the club level have come on Europe’s biggest stage…the Champions League.
Whether it was at Olympiacos…
Or at Arsenal (yes, he did shit for Arsenal)…
The Champions League is where Campbell belongs, making Besiktas the ideal landing spot.
The Turkish giants qualified for the group stages of the competition after winning the 2016-17 Super Lig. The club’s European ambitions include Campbell next season, according to Fotosport (via Daily Mail).
Now, before you jump down my throat and get into a semantics argument about MLS being a superior league to the Turkish one, this isn’t about that. This is about those six guaranteed games in Europe that no other MLS club will be able to offer. As I said before, this is about members of La Sele playing at the highest level possible.
There is no level higher than the Champions League.
Why spend a Wednesday night visiting TCF Bank Stadium in Minnesota, when destinations like Old Trafford, Allianz Arena or the Bernabeu could be on the docket?
Admittedly, this is a bit out there and entirely biased, but the New York Red Bulls need Cristian Gamboa.
The 27-year-old has had a rough go of it in Europe since joining West Bromwich Albion in 2014. Tony Pulis hates soccer, rendering Gamboa’s attacking exploits moot. Brendan Rodgers only awarded him 13 Scottish Premiership starts.
He isn’t exactly favored in Glasgow, according to HITC.
What makes Gamboa the perfect fit for MLS, specifically the Red Bulls is:
- He’s affordable.
- He fits a serious need.
- Soon to be 28 (Oct. 24), he’s not an up-and-coming prospect anymore.
Gamboa transferred from West Brom to Celtic last summer for a whopping £1.2 million, according to Transfermarkt. No MLS team should have difficulty meeting his valuation.
Especially if you need a right back, which the Red Bulls do.
Have you ever seen Sal Zizzo play professional soccer?
The fact that he’s a prominent fixture in the starting XI tells you enough. Not only would Gamboa be an immediate upgrade, he’d provide much more in the attack than Alex “I lead the league in back passes” Muyl. His pragmatic approach on the field would finally be of some use, covering for Gamboa as he makes his runs into the final third.
Having said all that, this is a move that needs to be put on hold. Celtic still have the opportunity to feature in the 2017-18 Champions League. If they do, there’s no rush to leave. Gamboa would be better suited fighting for his place.
But come January, when the transfer window reopens and the Red Bulls look to start a new season, this should be a top priority.
Besides, it wouldn’t hurt to have a Tico return to Red Bull Arena. At least you’ll get a few more of us to show up.