It’s been made pretty obvious that New York City FC will not fill it’s two remaining Designated Player (DP) slots until the summer transfer window. Which is annoying considering the fact that the club hasn’t had the opportunity to sign two gamechanging players in one transfer window since it’s inaugural 2015 season. But I’ve given up on trying to rationalize NYCFC’s roster decisions.
Instead, what I’ll do is look to the 2021 summer window in which many players will become available for the picking. For simplicity’s sake, we’ve only included players who will be available on a free transfer this summer. This will also help quell any frivolous suggestions when it comes to
Current club: Crystal Palace
First up is Belgian striker Christian Benteke. Once a valued fixture in Aston Villa’s setup from 2012 until 2015, Benteke hasn’t been as clinical in the Premier League as fans would like.
After an a relatively pedestrian one-season stint with Liverpool, Benteke signed with Crystal Palace in 2016, Initially, things went pretty well and the Belgian forward was Palace’s top goalscorer across all competitions in his first season with the club, scoring 15 in league play and 17 in all competitions. Since 2017, however, Benteke has struggled with form.
While Benteke could still have a future with a top team in Europe, a move abroad could do the 30-year-old some good when his contract expires this summer. NYCFC are in need of some offensive firepower. Don’t be surprised if the Belgian is on their shortlist.
Position(s): Attacking midfielder, winger
Current club: AS Roma
Even at the age of 32, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is still a world class baller. A fixture in Roma’s setup, the Armenian attacking midfielder has scored 18 goals in 43 total appearances with the Magic One since arriving to the club in 2019.
Come this summer, Mkhitaryan’s contract is up and he’s free to go anywhere he pleases. Capable of playing at the No. 10 and either wing due to his ability with both feet, “Mickie” can be a huge asset to any attack he finds himself in. And with how NYCFC is currently set up, he’d fit right in.
Is Henrikh on the older side? Sure. And is his primary position currently occupied by Maxi Moralez on NYCFC? Yeah, for now. But as iterated before, Mkhitaryan could more than suffice on the wing for now until Maxi’s contract is up at the end of the year. If City can somehow steer Henrikh in their direction, why not bank on him?
Position(s): Striker, winger, attacking midfield
Current club: Everton
Despite spending almost all of his career in England and approaching the tail end of his prime years as a footballer, Joshua King is still very much an enigma. The former Manchester United youth product has seen his goalscoring form hit peaks and valleys since leaving the Red Devils in 2013 — with AFC Bournemouth, King hit 16 goals during the 2016-17 Premier League season and 12 goals in the 2018-19 season, but has failed to match those numbers more often than not.
2019-20 didn’t go so well as Bournemouth would be relegated to the Championship. And in his 12 Championship appearances, King couldn’t find the back of the net. On the final day of the winter transfer window back in February, King returned to the Prem with Everton in a deal that saw him go to the Blues for a “nominal fee” until the end of the 2020-21 Premier League season. Everton does have an option to extend his contract should he impress. But thus far, King has been goalless in 8 appearances.
It’s possible that Everton will still give him an extension. But if things don’t work out, it’s also possible that King will be looking elsewhere to play this summer. And should he be available for the picking, NYCFC could possibly lure him stateside to play in one of the world’s biggest and most important cities.
Current club: River Plate
A former Atletico Madrid project, Colombian forward Santos Borré has been plying his trade at River Plate in Argentina since 2017. Despite some early struggles with finding his place with River Plate, Borré’s stock has climbed since the 2020 Argentinian season where he led the league with 12 goals and has become a favorite of manager Marcelo Gallardo.
NYCFC are in need of a gamechanging forward in the prime of their career. And while it is likely that Borré will be looking towards a move back to Europe when his contract is up this summer, we have seen time and time again that MLS clubs can swoop in and steal European targets for the right place with the right system.
Should there be even the slightest opening in the door, City need to slam their foot right into the gap and at least get a seat at the table when it comes to negotiations.
Current club: Manchester City
One of the best strikers of his generation, Sergio Aguero’s contract with Manchester City comes to an end this summer, marking the end of a decade’s long stint with the Mothership that’s seen multiple championships.
According to reports from Sport Witness and ESPN’s Esteban Edul, Aguero will not be returning to his first club Indepediente and is instead eyeing a move to MLS. Name a more fitting place for Aguero to be than NYCFC!
Since this report, rumors have surfaced linking the Argentinian to Spanish giants Barcelona and MLS’s Inter Miami. But if they can scrounge together the cash needed, NYCFC — a CFG club — could provide Aguero the easiest transition to his next chapter compared to that of any other club.
Whether or not New York City splashes the pot on Aguero will probably depend on how willing they are to open the checkbook the same way they were willing to with past superstars such as David Villa, Frank Lampard, and Andrea Pirlo. City has had lukewarm returns with their last two DP signings, Alexandru Mitrita and Jesus Medina. Maybe it’s time they go back in the market for a tried and true generational talent.