Real Madrid legend and current Al Sadd striker Raúl has made his name as both a goal scoring threat on the field and a professional off of it.
While both attributes have always drawn the New York Cosmos towards him, one of them is getting in the way of business.
By all accounts, many believed Raúl would already be suited up in the iconic green of the Cosmos headed into the Fall Championship season. His deal with Al Sadd expired in June and all signs pointed to a move Stateside. However, professional responsibilities have convinced the star striker to extend his stay at Al Sadd — at least for the foreseeable future.
“Everything has been stalled with Raúl because Al Sadd has advanced in Champions League,” a source with direct knowledge of the situation tells EOS. “That has forced the Cosmos to take a wait and see approach. With the World Cup, [Al Sadd's] Champions League run is on hold. They play again in August.”
Al Sadd advanced from the AFC Champions League Group Stage back in April, qualifying second in their bracket. A home-and-home Round of 16 series with Iranian club Foolad F.C. saw Al Sadd advance to the quarterfinals on an away goals tiebreaker. They are now set to face Saudi power Al-Hilal FC on August 19th and again on the 26th.
As part of his commitment, Raúl has decided to stay with Al Sadd “however long they stay in the tournament.”
“That gives credit to Raúl’s character: sticking with his team and his obligations,” our source says.
That also means the Cosmos will have to play a waiting game until that run is complete. If history is any indicator, that wait may not be so long. Al Sadd does not have a good history against their upcoming Saudi rivals. The two sides met twice earlier this year in the AFC Group Stage, with Al Sadd coming from behind to draw Al-Hilal at home, but then dropping a 5-0 drubbing on the away leg.
Once Al Sadd’s run is over, the Cosmos will look to finalize their deal for the 37-year-old striker, giving the NASL side a “realistic” chance to sign the striker for the Fall Championship season. If Al Sadd continue on, however, they will likely look at acquiring him for the Spring of 2015
“It’s not dead,” our source says of Raúl’s arrival this year, “but things have to go the Cosmos way for 2014 to be in play.”