Latest: NYRB Offer Reo-Coker Deal
The USA may be about to add a player of genuine EPL class to aid Clint Dempsey in his endeavours, former Aston Villa captain Nigel Reo-Coker.
Reo-Coker is married to an American and his lawyer believes he would be eligible for the USMNT after a short period of residence although FIFA may have to be involved. The player is very keen to come here and has already turned down an offer of $2m from Maurice Edu’s new Turkish club Bursaspor and a smaller one form another Turkish club Kasimpasa of Istanbul in the summer but is said to be amenable to another offer it arrives over the next 72 hours.
However his first choice is the USA if a concrete offer arrives.
USA head coach Jurgen Klinsmann told an agent of his desire to select the player if eligible (not as previously reported the player himself).
Such is Reo-Coker’s desire to play here that he will accept a wage below that of Designated Player in his first year of a three year deal to get his foot inside the MLS door and launch an international career.
At 28, he would represent a very young entry to MLS by normal EPL standards, with a significant amount of playing time at his peak still to come.
Reo-Coker was born in Croydon, South London of Sierra Leonean descent. He last played for Bolton Wanderers on 18 May 2012 after the club’s relegation but is now a free agent. Reo-Coker came through the youth team ranks at Wimbledon, and also played for West Ham United and Aston Villa. He has made 259 EPL appearances in total.
He has played for the England U-21 squad and indeed captained them but this would not bar him from becoming a full USA international.
Other than the desire of his wife to return to her native country, what has really persuaded Reo-Coker to consider the MLS option was a phone call about a month ago from US coach Klinsmann.
There are two clubs in the running for him.
The New York Red Bulls are the first. Reo-Coker’s wife is from Brooklyn and this would be a natural fit. Advanced conversations have taken place between the player’s representatives and the Red Bulls, whose Head of Global Soccer Gerard Houllier made Reo-Coker his captain when he was manager of Aston Villa and is a known admirer of the player’s abilities.
The delay in the arrival of new head coach Paulo Sousa is believed to have held that up.
However a surprise candidate for the player’s services are the Portland Timbers who are still working to finalise a way of removing Designated Player Kris Boyd from their roster, freeing up both salary cap money and a roster slot.
Additionally, the Oregon club has Diego Chara, their first Designated Player, in a similar position as Reo-Coker who is a classic box to box midfielder.
It may be that Timbers General Manager Gavin Wilkinson and Head Coach Caleb Porter do not want to overload one particular position with too much talent, given the club’s defensive frailties last season. The Timbers had a similar issue with finding a way to accommodate captain Jack Jewsbury and Chara in central midfield in previous years.
Whether it is a matter of dealing with the Boyd situation or working out how to fit Chara and Reo-Coker into the same side is unknown. Portland already rejected one deal for Reo-Coker on financial grounds but a new offer is said to be far lower, with respect to any salary requirements in the second and third years of a contract.
The player is believed to be flying to the USA to discuss terms if there is no offer from Turkey although it is not known by our sources yet, whether Oregon is in his itinerary.
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