The MLS community is slightly abuzz today with talk of Jermaine Pennant potentially coming to the league this summer with his days at Stoke seemingly coming to an end. It would just be the end of another fairly disappointing chapter in the career of the once highly touted English winger. Pennant was once a star player for England's Under-21 side and moved from Notts County at just 15 years of age but it has all gone quite wrong since then.
Pennant has been given looks to a number of top clubs over his career having made appearances for Arsenal, Liverpool, Birmingham City, Real Zaragoza, and now Stoke. He has also gone out on a number of loan spells that have taken him to the likes of Watford, Leeds United, and Portsmouth. He also spent time on loan to Wolverhampton Wanders this season having fallen out of favor at Stoke.
His contract with the Premier League club is up this summer and Pennant will be looking for a new club. Chances are there are still a few English clubs that would be willing to give him a chance to play at some level but 30 year old winger is also being linked to other leagues. One of the leagues that is reportedly interested in him is MLS as was reported by the Daily Mail.
Their report links him to a pair of MLS clubs in Toronto FC and the Vancouver Whitecaps. They may actually be the only clubs in MLS that Pennant could possibly be linked to because no American club would be able to sign him due to the fact that it would be impossible to secure a work permit for him to play in the United States.
MLS fans will remember former New York Red Bull player Luke Rodgers who had to be shed by the club following his inability to secure the required paperwork to return to play in the United States following some legal issues in England during the offseason. Rodgers legal issues and bad boy ways actually pale in comparison to the list of legal issues that have followed Pennant throughout his career. From drunk driving convictions, to claiming to be Ashley Cole during police questioning, to compiling five months worth of tickets on a car he claimed to forget that he even owned.
There is basically no chance that Pennant would secure the proper permits to work in the United States so that would leave only three MLS clubs as potential new homes for him. With the Montreal Impact saving all of their international roster slots to sign aging Italians they would not likely be in the running for Pennant leaving just Vancouver and Toronto.
As you can tell I am not really a fan of this report and feel that anything coming from the Daily Mail needs to be taken with a sizable helping of salt. The report is scant and offers nothing to support the claims that the clubs are interested in signing the player other than piecing together a series of obvious things.
Pennant does have a lot of talent but his entire career has been marked by the fact that he has never been able to consistently make the most of that talent. There are reasons why he has bounced around to a series of different clubs and never developed into the player Arsenal and England were hoping he would become as a teenager. Now he is entering his 30's and is still not on track and at some point you have to feel that his potential has passed him by and you are only getting what you see which is a pacey winger who has seen his pace fade in recent seasons and has spent his entire adult life marred in legal issues.
Sure Pennant could serve as a nice upgrade over the likes of Reggie Lambe, Hogan Ephraim, or John Bostock on the wings for TFC but he would likely still be looking to command a fairly sizable wage. With all that in mind does he really seem like the kind of player that TFC or any MLS club should be interested in?
The Mail also offered three sentences on the long-standing Park Ji-Sung to MLS rumors but failed to add anything new to the story other than what has been reported by others for several weeks already. The report is worth clicking on though just for the comedic disparity between the size and amount of pictures and the tiny smattering of text.
So the Mail has two rumors that have people talking but my problem with both reports is that they basically did not say anything in either report. MLSsoccer.com even picked up on the reports in a couple places this morning which also added little to the speculation on the signings but did contain a useful reminder about MLS transfer window rules.
The MLS primary transfer window closes May 6 and the secondary window opens on July 9. But the windows wouldn't be a requirement depending on when the player is released from his contract, as the reports in England intimate.
If Park is released before May 6, he can sign with an MLS club at any time. However, if QPR cut ties with him after May 6, he'd have to wait until the July 9 window should he choose to become an MLS player.