Bolton boss Owen Coyle is hoping that "no" doesn't really mean no regarding New York Red Bulls defender Tim Ream.
Numerous sources, including the Press Association, are reporting that Bolton are still keen on acquiring the American regardless of claims that the player will not be made available for a loan or transfer. Earlier this week, New York sporting director Erik Soler told reporters "Tim is going to play for us next year. I met with him, as I did with every single player after the season, and my message was very clear. We would like him to go on those two training sessions to gain experience, and also to have a personal benchmark on what the mid or lower Premier League would feel like. Apart from that, we have absolutely no other plans than him returning here and gaining some experience that will be good for us."
Despite such claims, Coyle has still expressed his interest in acquiring Ream. The UKPA story quotes Coyle as saying "would we like to have him at the football club? Absolutely. Red Bulls have said that he is not for sale and that is totally understandable - I would say that about my top players. Tim Ream is an outstanding player...I can totally understand why the Red Bulls would say he is their player, because he is a prized asset. But he has come in here, conducted himself very well and shown his quality...He is a New York Red Bulls player and I wouldn't say anything else beside that because you have to respect that he has come in for a week's training with the permission of the club. We'll leave it at that for the moment, and we'll see what January brings."
Ream has spent much of December training overseas with two English sides. He completed a stint with West Brom last week, and is currently working out with Bolton. His current training stint is schedule to end this weekend. This previous weekend, English sources reported West Brom boss Roy Hodgson was planning on making a loan bid for Ream this coming January. Days later, rumors broke that Bolton were also planning on making a move for Ream. Now, as the upcoming weekend approaches, it looks as if Soler's comments regarding the New York defender will do nothing to squash the transfer rumors.
At this point, New York would be absolutely silly to not at least listen carefully to offers for Ream's services. At least two clubs have made public their intentions on pursuing the defender, and Ream's agent has previously claimed that clubs located in several countries have contacted him regarding the defender. Every "in the know" person I've spoken with regarding this subject believes Ream will not remain with the Red Bulls past the 2012 Major League Soccer season. If such individuals are correct and the Red Bulls really are keen on keeping Rafael Marquez for the 2012 campaign, moving Ream this winter may not be the worst move for all involved.
Marquez called out Ream and other New York teammates this past September, a move that earned the Mexican international a one-game suspension. Upon his return from suspension, Marquez moved to the midfield. The way the New York defense played during the final month of the season, I see no reason why the two should ever again be back line mates.
Ream will also be looking to make a return to the US Men's National Team squad. Ream played with Team USA last summer, but a handful of miscues and inconsistent performances landed him off of Jurgen Klinsmann's squad this past fall. Klinsmann has been very clear that he wants American footballers such as Ream to spend as much time as possible playing overseas. As I've stated in previous cases, I take a "country before club" approach regarding MLS players. Certain MLS fans may not like it, but players such as Ream, Juan Agudelo and Brek Shea playing in Europe is what's best for US Soccer at this time.
The next month and a half should be very interesting for both the Red Bulls and the franchise's devoted fan base.