New York City could soon be home to another footballing star, with the news that Real Madrid and Spain legend Raul is close to joining New York Cosmos. Raul may be 37 years old, but this would still be quite a coup for the team playing in the North American Soccer League (NASL), the American second division.
Raul is expected to sign a deal in the next few days and will join up with the team in time for the 2015 season beginning in spring. He will also take a lead role in the youth academy, which is expected to launch next year.
The Cosmos have been chasing Raul’s signature for some time now, fending off interest from Real Madrid, who wanted the striker to join them as a Technical Director, and Al-Sadd who also wanted the Spaniard to work behind the scenes.
Raul’s career statistics make for hugely impressive reading. He made his debut for Los Blancos in the 1994/95 season, and quickly endeared himself to the fans by scoring on his home debut against bitter rivals Atletico Madrid. In a 15-year career with Real Madrid, he became the record appearance maker with 741, and the club record goalscorer with 323.
Upon leaving Madrid in 2010, Raul joined Schalke in Germany and during that time scored his 400th career goal. After a two-year spell, he left Europe to play for Al-Sadd in Qatar, playing his final game for the team in March of this year.
Raul currently holds the record for top Champions League goalscorer with 71 goals (although both Ronaldo and Messi will pass that mark very soon), and during his career became the top scorer for Spain with 44 goals. That record has since been broken by David Villa.
Coincidentally, Villa is another of the major stars to have recently decided to play football in North America. Both he and England midfielder Frank Lampard have joined the newly-formed New York City FC, whilst Brazil midfielder Kaka has moved to Orlando City.
Although Raul won’t be strutting his stuff in the MLS, his impending move is another feather in the cap for North American football.