Three or four years ago, Diego Forlan would have been an incredible get for MLS. The breakout star of the 2010 World Cup was linked with MLS clubs more times than I could count over that couple of years following 2010, during the search for overseas superstar talent that seemed to end in failure more often than not past Thierry Henry.
So what's this we hear about the Colorado Rapids turning Mr. Forlan down? We're talking not just avoiding talking to the man, but actively passing on the opportunity to do so. Bad sign? I don't think so.
You'll remember last week I wrote a bit on another rumored Rapids striker acquisition, Wolves striker Kevin Doyle. Regarding him, I saw a solid risk/reward signing for the Rapids as either a non-Designated Player or a DP (assuming all other options fell through) with low pay but contract bonuses built in to reward a potentially good season. Doyle was the perfect guy to buy low on in my mind, still young enough to have a few years ahead of him but coming off of a slow, slow season featuring only four appearances and a single goal, scored on a fifth-tier side while on loan to Crystal Palace. He could be great in MLS, but his low stock means they probably won't have to splash the cash to acquire him. Win-win.
Forlan is, despite the hype, not worth the trouble, and I'm quite frankly happy that the Rapids turned him down. I might be the only one in Colorado who watches the J-League, but let me assure you that the Forlan of today is not the Forlan that dazzled and won our hearts back in South Africa in 2010.
Forlan, and Cerezo Osaka in general, were pretty awful last season. He got 26 appearances with the club, which had finished an impressive 4th in the J-League table the year prior to his arrival, but only scored seven goals in a season where they ended up getting relegated to J-League 2. And this was in a league that is, at least in the overall talent department, a couple of steps down from Major League Soccer.
Prior to his first season in Osaka his season prior was spent scoring only 10 goals in 34 matches for Internacional of Brazil. (Their nickname is 'Colorado'!) Brazil are a top-heavy league with the same status as J-League: most teams are not much better than your average MLS side. Prior to that, he had a year with Inter in Italy, scoring only twice in 18 appearances. It wasn't highly publicized, and probably not entirely his fault, but Forlan had quite the fall in form and stature after his crowning achievement in 2010.
Oh, and that mediocre season he put on for Japan came with a reported $6 million bill. It seems highly unlikely that he's going to want to knock that down an enormous amount, which would be necessary unless the Rapids are prepared to make him one of the highest paid players in MLS history, a title that he certainly doesn't deserve with his form over the past couple of years.
Diego Forlan still can play some decent soccer, but Cerezo Osaka or another, more desperate, J-League or MLS team can have him. He's 35, will be 36 two months into this MLS season, and clearly is nowhere near the superstar signing that he would have been back in 2011 or 2012. For my money, there's not enough potential reward (except at the box office, of course) to outweigh the risk.