Tuesday brings us fresh quotes about Spanish legend Raul potentially joining the New York Cosmos, courtesy of Dave Martinez. He ran the following comments from Marcos Senna at Empire of Soccer, which is a site every New York soccer fan should have bookmarked, regardless of which team you support (hint, it should be the Cosmos):
"Honestly, he is very interested (in coming to the Cosmos). Of course, he is under contract and he couldn’t say ‘yes, I am going,’ because he is under contract and is a very professional person. Of course, he has to complete his contract, but afterwards, you never know what can happen."
Raul is out of contract this summer, and would potentially be able to join the Cosmos before the start of the fall season. He'd certainly be the biggest name in the modern NASL, and has accomplished more during his career than any player currently employed in the United States. It's also not the first time that the player has been linked to the club.
Raul is on a fairly massive wage at Al-Saad, rumored to be over $16.5 million per year (tax free, no less). That would make him the highest paid player in the United States by a huge margin, and honestly, there's just no way that the Cosmos could afford to come anywhere near that sort of money. Frankly, I'd find it hard to believe that an MLS side could approach that, even with the new television deal which they signed with FOX.
The idea of coming to New York could be appealing for the player though, especially as his first memories of the game likely coincide with the dominant Cosmos teams of the late 70's and early 80's. New York could still offer him a sizable package (as evidenced by their signing of former national teammate Marcos Senna), and if money isn't the only deciding factor, it's not hard to believe that a one-year swansong in the United States would be a worthwhile experience for both the player and his family.
Should this rumor prove to have any legs, it would certainly make the Cosmos one of the most fascinating clubs to watch in the United States (if they weren't already). They already possess a very strong defensive unit and a starting midfield that would be among the best in MLS, and the additions of Mads Stokkelien, Hans Denissen, and Raul to the attack could make them a real darkhorse to win the 2014 U.S. Open Cup.
At 36, the player's best years are clearly behind him, though he's played well for Al Saad, and would probably still be one of the better players in the NASL. I'd love to see him join the Cosmos, as he's one of the all-time greats to play the game, and the experience and quality which he'd bring to New York can only help the rest of our attackers improve. Keep your fingers crossed...