Rumors began to spread on December 21st that Uruguayan international, Diego Forlan, is once again interested in coming to Major League Soccer to finish out his career and is awaiting MLS offers. The Union have previously courted him under the guidance of Rene Meulensteen who knew Forlan from their days at Manchester United.
But should the Union go after him now? The easy answer: NO.
Forlan, a forward, is now 36 years old and is four years removed from his European playing days. In his prime, Forlan was a key piece at Manchester United, Villarreal, and Atletico Madrid. But after a less than fruitful year at Inter Milan, Forlan went back to South America before finally returning to his childhood club Peñarol in 2015. Forlan had a limited impact on the Uruguayan Primera Division’s runner ups, as he scored three goals in 11 appearances. His legendary goal scoring prowess that made him a household name in Europe and South America has declined in recent years as he ages. Therefore he cannot be relied on to score consistently.
In addition, the Union have undergone a regime change since their first encounter with Forlan. The Union are now under the management of Sporting Director Earnie Stewart known for his ability to use “moneyball” and find productive players for a relatively decent price tag. Forlan does not fit this description as he is presumably looking for a Designated Player contract valued at $400,000+ a year. His advanced age and declining abilities do not play into Stewart’s plan on the field making it very unlikely that the Union would sign him.
But Major League Soccer has in the past signed older players for their marketing value. Forlan has played at big name clubs in the past and has played in three World Cups—2002, 2010 and 2014 including being named the best player in the 2010 World Cup, helping Uruguay to a fourth place finish. But given the fact that he has not played at a big name European club since 2012 and played a minimal role in Uruguay’s 2014 World Cup run, Forlan’s name is not as well known among the casual U.S. soccer fan outside of dedicated players of FIFA.
Four years ago, Forlan would’ve been a fantastic signing for the Union and Major League Soccer. Just over 30, Forlan would’ve been fresh off his great term in Europe with the 2010 World Cup still fresh in people’s minds. He would’ve been a great asset to any MLS team both on and off the field. But his decision to go to South America before Major League Soccer significantly hurt his negotiating power as his abilities and name recognition declined in the years since. It would be shocking to see any team sign him much less the Union who are in the middle of a rebuilding movement and would find no use for him in the long term.