Jermaine Jones is looking for a lucrative three-year contract to remain a New England Revolution player, one which would take him through his 38th birthday. While he may still have something to offer after his six-game suspension is done, his body may not be able to hold up to three more seasons on the unforgiving artificial turf at Gillette Stadium, particularly given defensive midfield is one of the most physically demanding positions on the pitch. Jones now knows the added rigors of playing in Major League Soccer, with its immense amounts of traveling, rough weather conditions and physical playing style, but that knowledge doesn’t necessarily make those demands any easier to handle.
While I’ve always loved watching Jones’ all-action style, and his position as a US national team star is an obvious draw, there are some better options that the notoriously frugal Revolution could pursue if they don’t improve their offer of an 80% pay cut for Jones. Jermaine isn’t getting any younger, and after last year’s sports hernia surgery ,the combative midfielder is beginning to show his age Jones appeared in only 18 of the Revolution’s 34 regular season games.
One option that’s been rumored is Newcastle United’s Cheick Tiote. At 29, Tiote offers a younger option to Jones, and while he may not be improving at that age, he is a statistical upgrade, averaging 3.1 tackles per game to Jones’s 2.4 over the past two seasons. With a successful pass average of 84.5 to Jones’s 75.6 passes per game since joining MLS. While Tiote may not have the same appeal as the media happy Jones, he is a long standing English Premier League player and Ivory Coast international with some notoriety.
That being said he may not come cheap. Despite having his own injury problems over the past two seasons, Tiote remains an essential squad member for Newcastle, if perhaps not a guaranteed starter. However, if Newcastle are relegated this season — a distinct possibility — a transfer becomes more likely.
Another more audacious possibility is Spanish international Xabi Alonso, whose contract with Bayern Munich ends at the end of the season. With Alonso recently stating he would consider a move to MLS, the Revolution would be wise to consider a move. It would be unlike the Kraft family to spend big on a player, but it remains a slim possibility. With the departure of Jones, it would be a position that needs filling, and Alonso’s signing would represent a major upgrade in terms of quality on the field.
With the increased popularity of the league and soccer in general in the United States, bringing in a player of Alonso’s stature would be a huge boost for the Revs. A World Cup and Champions League winner, Alonso would be a statement signing that might just get the Revs over the hump from contenders to champions. Of course, there are the small matters of the discovery claim and a hefty annual salary, and like Jones, he’s a bit past his prime at 34. But without a transfer fee, he would be worth his salary, if he’d accept a two-year deal.
An alternative that would make sense is Reading’s Daniel Williams. Averaging 1.2 tackles and 2.2 interceptions per game with a pass average of 86% this season, Williams wouldn’t offer a huge on field improvement. He is, however, only 26 years old, and he still has time to improve.
With his status as a burgeoning US national team player, Williams is someone the team could build around for years to come. The biggest hurdle with this deal, though, would be convincing Williams to leave a historically relevant Championship side for the newly popular MLS. For that reason, is seems unlikely that Danny would leave England, even if things change quickly in soccer.
My last candidate is a bit of a wild card: Mathieu Flamini. The 31-year-old Arsenal player is out of contract at the end out the season and has never shown any real interest in playing in the US. Howeve,r he’s a like-for-like replacement for Jones, flying into tackles and making long runs out of midfield to help in the attack (for better or worse). Unlike Jones, he has a more refined side to his game, and with a 89.6% pass completion over the past two seasons, he would represent a solid upgrade in the defensive midfield position.
Flaimini may not be his prime either, but at 31 ,you could offer him a three-year contract without too much worry of an age-related performance drop. And with no transfer fee or overly inflated salary expected, he would seemingly be good value for money. Personally as a Revolution and Arsenal fan this would be my top pick – a recognizable name from a big team, and a leader on and off the pitch.
What are your thoughts? Know any hidden gems that might be lured to the northeast?
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