Colorado Rapids boss Pablo Mastroeni responds to links with Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard

Tim Howard USA

Recent reports have suggested that the former MetroStars keeper has been in talks with the Rapids about a move back to MLS, but it now looks like those claims are wide of the mark.

Speaking to ExtraTime Radio, Colorado Rapids head coach Pablo Mastroeni has refuted claims that the club have held talks with Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard about a return to MLS.

ESPN FC first reported last month that the Rapids were pursuing a deal for Howard after acquiring the top spot in the MLS Allocation Order in a trade with the Chicago Fire during the 2016 SuperDraft – giving them priority over the other 19 teams to sign any player currently listed on the league’s Allocation Ranking List.

The club were originally eyeing fellow US national team standout Alejandro Bedoya, but were said to have turned their attentions to Howard after being told that the Nantes midfielder would not be made available.

Rapids vice president of soccer operations Paul Bravo declined to comment on the report at the time, but the rumours were further stoked the following week when the club traded first-choice keeper Clint Irwin to Toronto FC.

What is more, the likes of Pro Soccer Talk have since claimed that Howard has held advanced talks with Colorado about a summer move back to the States, which would allow him to be closer to his children, and that a deal is even on the verge of being agreed.

However, while the team hope to take advantage of their place at the top of the Allocation Order in the near future, Mastroeni insists that no approach has been made for his former international teammate.

“As far as Alejandro, he was definitely a player we were interested in,” the ex-USA midfielder told ExtraTime Radio. “But he never became available and we haven’t had any conversations to my understanding with Tim Howard either.”

Continuing on acquiring the top spot in the MLS Allocation Order, Mastroeni added: “I think there are a lot of different scenarios that we’re kind of sifting through and not one of them was necessarily about one particular player, it was putting ourselves in a situation to get a couple of different players.

“With trading out of that No. 2 slot, we were able to get some allocation money and bring in a player like [Meikel] Williams and set ourselves up for a player like [Shkelzen] Gashi as well, so it’s a lot more in-depth and intertwined than just this for that.

"We currently sit with that spot and we have options available at this moment. Ideally we’d like to use is but you’ve got to make sure it’s the right fit and the right person with the right mentality.

“I think we’ve done a really good job at this point putting the team together that we feel is much improved from last year and to just use a spot to bring someone else in [for the sake of it] doesn’t make a lot of sense.

“But if we can use it to enhance our group then we’ll definitely do that.”

Howard, 36, has made over 400 total appearances for Everton since joining the club from Manchester United in 2006 on an initial loan deal which later became permanent, but his form over the past two seasons has come in for considerable criticism from both Blues fans and the media.

The former MetroStars keeper, who missed last weekend’s 3-0 win at Stoke due to a knee problem, has said in the past that he plans to remain at Goodison Park until his contract expires in 2018, but his recent struggles have led to suggestions that he could be forced to move on this summer.

In the meantime, Toffees manager Roberto Martinez has stressed that he has received no contact about his long-serving No.1, telling reporters at his pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow's visit of West Bromwich Albion: "At the moment, the only thing we are concentrating on is where we are after the January window.

"Now I can guarantee you that nobody is going to leave between now and the end of the season, unless it’s a loan move to the Championship.

Any speculation is a waste of time. Once we get to the end of the season, it will be a completely different window and different situation, and we’ll use it to make our squad stronger."

Register for EVERTON team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch