Raul to Chivas USA? Don't Bet on It

GELSENKIRCHEN, GERMANY - MARCH 24: (FILE PHOTO) Raul: probably running to Qatar, not Carson. (Photo by Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts/Getty Images)

I'm not against discussing transfer rumors for Chivas USA. I hesitate to connect big stars to Chivas, not because I don't want to see them play for the Goats (sometimes I do, sometimes I don't) but because nothing in the team's history indicates it is even a remote possibility. Chivas' most famous player is Juan Pablo Angel, who you might remember was swapped to Chivas last season when the Galaxy were desperate to get rid of him to make room for a designated player slot.

The latest player to be linked to Chivas is Spanish forward Raul, who is finishing up a stint at Schalke and played a friendly against the Philadelphia Union earlier this week. Since he was in Philly, speculation started that he was a possible target for the Union, but that seemed far-fetched, especially considering that team's claims that they needed to trim the payroll and as a result traded away Sebastien Le Toux.

Scott Kessler at Union blog Brotherly Game wrote today that reports from the Philly media indicate Raul is definitely going to Qatar, where he's been rumored to be headed for weeks now. But the rumors to MLS don't die until pen is put to paper, and so we may have to wait and see if he is indeed headed to the Middle East, despite the evidence he most likely will be.

Now, an article from Spain on ElConfidencial.com from Jose Felix Diaz claims Chivas USA co-owner Jorge Vergara has offered Raul a two-year deal for €4 million annually.* He wants to compete more directly with the big names on the Galaxy side of the Home Depot Center divide, and I think there's a hope he could contribute in a tangible way on the field.

But there are several reasons for me to believe this story is very, very unlikely to be true. Let's go through them:

First, the striker has been reportedly offered $12 million to play in Qatar, according to a figure in Kessler's story. Players do turn down money, but most players don't turn down more than double the offered money to sign with a different new club.

We'll have to see what JPA and other players are making when the 2012 salary figures are released, but Chivas have never publicly classified any signing as a designated player. While having a DP does not necessarily indicate quality, more and more teams are adding DPs to compete in the league. There's no time like the present to start adding (good) DPs, but going from never paying a player $1 million to paying Raul €4 million seems out of character for this club.

Also, the dynamic with Vergara makes this story fishy. You are likely aware that he also owns Chivas de Guadalajara, but he's been trimming payroll for years, and with that team finishing near the bottom of the Mexican Primera this season, demand to sign quality Mexican veterans is high. But indications are that Vergara doesn't have the money to sign the caliber of players considered necessary to stop their recent slide. If he doesn't have money to sign top names with his Mexican team, and it is pretty apparent he takes a much greater interest in the Guadalajara Goats than the Angelino Goats, I doubt he'd invest in Chivas USA ahead of Chivas de Guadalajara, as bleak as that sounds for Chivas USA fans.

Finally, Europeans get linked to MLS all the time, but it's often because their agents want to drive up their value, not because MLS is an option they are even considering.

What are the chances Chivas USA signs Raul? I'd put it at 0.5 percent. Not impossible, but practically impossible. I'd advise others to not get too excited about it.

* Correction: The original version of this article reported Raul had been (allegedly) offered $4 million annually, but El Confidencial reported Chivas USA offered him €4 million ($5.16 million) annually.

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