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Four Potential Designated Player Targets for NYCFC

With David Villa’s future with the club uncertain, here are four potential successors

MLS: D.C. United at New York City FC Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

New York City FC without David Villa is not something I enjoy talking about. However, given the current circumstances, it is necessary. As of right now, NYCFC and David Villa have been silent in regards to contract talks or anything of that nature, leading me to believe that the Bronx Blues fielding a team without the Spanish legend is a real possibility.

Obviously, it is hard to imagine anyone who can contribute the way Villa has since 2015. I mean, the numbers speak for themselves: 80 goals in 124 appearances, with a 2016 MLS MVP award to go with it. Those type of number, in addition to Villa’s immaculate leadership abilities, can very well be considered irreplaceable. But, as the old adage goes, the show must go on.

With that said, I’ve decided to do my best Claudio Reyna impression and compile a list of four potential Designated Player targets that NYCFC should pursue if Villa’s time in the five boroughs may very well be coming to an end. For simplicity's sake, I have only listed strikers. Additionally, I have done my best to include players who are currently in the last year of their contract with their current club.

For clarification, all market values listed below were drawn from Tansfermarkt.

1.) Javier Hernandez

West Ham United v Burnley FC - Premier League Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Current club: West Ham United

Position(s): Striker

Age: 30

Estimated market value: $13.5 million

Beginning this list is Javier Hernandez — better known by his nickname Chicharito — of the Premier League’s West Ham United.

The Mexican star has been with the Hammers since the beginning of the 2017-18 European season and has yet to really make his mark with the club. In 36 total appearances, Hernandez has only managed 9 goals which averages a goal every 4 appearances. While that isn’t necessarily terrible, it certainly isn’t ideal.

Given his current struggle with game changing performances, it isn’t unlikely that NYCFC could put in a bid for Chicharito this winter. West Ham is currently sitting in 13th in the Prem and are only 4 points above the drop zone.

For NYCFC, they would be getting a dynamic player who can bag goals in bunches and provide good off-the-ball movement. Not to mention they’d be getting a player who, at the age of 30, could still be considered to be in his prime. As a recognizable star with the Mexican national team — for whom he’s appeared 105 times with 50 goals to show for it — Chicharito could provide both talent and public intrigue should he decide to move stateside.

2.) Daniel Sturridge

SSC Napoli v Liverpool - UEFA Champions League Group C

Current club: Liverpool

Position(s): Striker

Age: 29

Estimated market value: $17 million

One of my favorite choices on this list and a player I’ve always personally enjoyed, my second transfer target is Liverpool’s Daniel Sturridge. Known for his pace and his technical ability, the English striker could be a great grab for any club who can convince Jurgen Klopp to part ways with him.

Once considered to be one of England’s most promising up-and-comers, Sturridge has been — historically speaking — a stat-sheet stuffer for the Reds since arriving in 2013 from Chelsea. In 105 appearances, Sturridge has netted 50 goals for Liverpool — ironically, the same exact numbers as Chicarito’s international career — and has also appeared for England a total of 26 times, scoring 8 goals in the process.

Despite his numbers being pretty impressive on the surface, Sturridge found himself on outs with Reds manager Jurgen Klopp last year and spent an extended period of the 2017-18 Premier League season on loan to the cellar-dwelling — and, eventually, relegated — West Bromwich Albion where he struggled to make an impact in 6 total appearances.

Having lost out to forwards Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and the emerging Mohammed Salah, Sturridge has been relegated to bench duty for Liverpool this season, making only 7 appearances with 2 goals to show for it.

Though I definitely believe that Sturridge is still good enough to compete in Europe and feature for a formidable team, NYCFC could capitalize on Sturridge’s current situation in Liverpool and attempt to snag him up. Sturridge will be out of a contract in June 2019 and as of right now, there is no word on whether or not Liverpool will be renewing his contract for 2019-20.

Sturridge doesn’t only bring talent. He also brings name value and a unique charisma associated with elite players. Not to mention, the Birmingham-born striker also has a huge affinity for hip-hop. There are few places where Sturridge would be at home more than New York City.

3.) Radamel Falcao

Colombia v England: Round of 16 - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

Current club: Monaco

Position(s): Striker

Age: 32

Estimated market value: $13.5 million

Coming in at number three is Radamel Falcao, the Colombian national team mainstay and Monaco star.

Making his professional football debut at the tender age of 13 with Lanceros Boyaca in 1999, Falcao would eventually move to Porto in Portugal where he would score a ridiculous 41 goals in 51 appearances over the course of two years and led his club to UEFA Europa League glory. After that, the Colombian would move to Spain’s Atletico Madrid where his star would grow even brighter, making 52 goals over 68 appearances en route to winning another Europa League title in addition to a UEFA Super Cup and a Copa del Rey.

With all the momentum in the world behind him, Falcao would eventually move on from Atletico and join Ligue 1’s Monaco in 2013. Despite initial success, Radamel’s career would have a big setback after he sustained an ACL injury. Upon returning, he had loan spells at Manchester United and Chelsea where he struggled to contribute. Since these setbacks, Falcao has settled in at Monaco and has remained a clinical goalscorer.

Though his contract with Monaco runs through June of 2020, Falcao should definitely be considered a juicy target for teams in the winter. The Colombian international turns 33 in February, and history shows that this is the time top clubs like to bank on stars and attempt to start fielding younger teams with more upside.

For NYCFC, Falcao checks all the boxes: clinical, strong weak foot, good gas tank, and leadership qualities. Not to mention, he’d be playing in New York City which has a prevalent Colombian community and will come in droves to watch one of the best strikers in the game play. In many ways, he can be considered to be the perfect successor to David Villa.

4.) Charlie Wyke

Northampton Town v Bradford City - Sky Bet League One Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

Current club: Sunderland

Position(s): Striker, attacking midfielder

Age: 25

Estimated market value: $400K

Rounding off the list at number four is a player that you’ve probably never heard of: Sunderland’s secret target man Charlie Wyke.

Wyke began his football career as a youth product of Middlesbrough, with whom he signed a professional contract in 2011. Despite amassing impressive youth statistics, Wyke would never get a chance to feature for the Boro and instead spent his four years with the club on various loan spells. Eventually, Wyke ended up at Carlile United in 2015 where he would score 32 goals in 77 appearances. From there, he’d go to Bradford City where he would become even more efficient, scoring 22 goals in 56 appearances.

Ultimately, Wyke would end up at the sinking Sunderland where he has struggled for significant playing time.

You might be wondering how I heard about Charlie Wyke and why I think he could be effective with NYCFC. The answer is sure to draw some laughs: Football Manager!

In FM 2019, I have — predictably — decided to replace Domé Torrent as manager of NYCFC. In my first season, I led the Bronx Blues to a Supporter’s Shield and an MLS title. Eager to improve upon the squad, I made the heart-crushing decision to let go of the aging Villa and replace him with someone younger. Well-placed scouts in England were able to spot the young Wyke and immediately, I got in talks with his agent. Due to his bargain basement price and good upside, I locked him into a DP contract for the 2019 season. Though we are still early in the campaign, Wyke has scored 4 goals in as many competitive appearances and has solidified himself as a physical presence in and around the box that can score and hold up play for inverted wingers.

With his market price being pretty low, it isn’t a stretch to say that Wyke could be procured on a contract that doesn’t take up a Designated Player slot. He’s young, big, and can play as a target man in a 4-3-3. At the very least, he’s worth checking out.

Do you agree with this list? Who would you pursue in the offseason? Let us know in the comments!