USA midfielder Michael Bradley is set to show at the World Cup what Arsenal missed out on in January.
Bradley’s father, Bob, who managed the US at the last World Cup in South Africa, has said that his son was on club’s radar during the winter but Arsene Wenger ultimately opted to pursue Spartak Moscow’s Kim Kallstrom.
Kallstrom subsequently missed most of the second-half of the season with an injury and the elder Bradley unsurprisingly believes Michael would have been the superior signing.
‘I think American players and coaches have to fight really hard for respect,’ he said in an interview with Slate. ‘Kim Kallstrom's not a bad player, but I think Michael feels pretty strongly that he’s better, and so Arsene Wenger must not feel that way, and Ivan Gazidis must not feel that way.’
Sunderland’s Jozy Altidore, Aston Villa’s Brad Guzan, Everton’s Tim Howard, Tottenham’s Brad Friedel and Stoke City pair Geoff Cameron and Brek Shea represent the only Americans in the Premier League currently, but the former Egypt manager evidently believes that group of names should be larger.
Michael Bradley has brief Premier League experience previously, having failed to shine during a six-month loan at Aston Villa, before ultimately joining Italian side Chievo in August 2011.
His form at the club earned him a move to fellow Serie A outfit AS Roma the next summer, where the 26-year-old enjoyed an excellent debut season, before struggling for playing time during the first-half of the 2013-14 campaign behind Kevin Strootman, Daniel De Rossi and Miralem Pjanic.
Deemed surplus to requirements despite impressing when seeing minutes, Bradley returned to MLS with Toronto FC in January in a historic deal for the league, and now will be out to prove on the world’s biggest stage that he can still compete with Europe’s best.
Arguably not even at his peak yet, the box-to-box midfielder is the engine of the USA side and, for many close observers, also their most important player, despite captain Clint Dempsey and the controversially omitted Landon Donovan stealing all the headlines in the past.
With 86 caps, Bradley is also one of the most experienced figures in Jurgen Klinsmann’s side, having been a key part of his father’s squad at the 2010 tournament, and the team will need the MLS star to be at his best if they are to cause an upset over the coming weeks.
Drawn in one of the tournament’s toughest groups, with Ghana, Portugal and Germany, it certainly won’t be an easy task to progress to the last 16, but, as the closest thing to a world class player the US have, a fully firing Bradley at least gives them a fighting chance.
By the end of the summer, Wenger and Arsenal could well be looking back at the World Cup and deeply regretting their decision to pass on the former Villa loanee.