HARRISON, N.J. — After winning all there was to win in Europe, Rafael Márquez says he was seeking a new challenge in his soccer career.
That next challenge would be in Major League Soccer with the New York Red Bulls, who on Tuesday presented the 31-year-old as the club’s newest Designated Player. The player joins the team on a three-and-a-half-year contract.
WATCH: Márquez highlight reel
“I am totally convinced that I’ve made the right decision,” Márquez said. “I believe in the project that Red Bull has started … It’s a project that is growing, and I think it will be the best team in MLS.”
The Red Bulls, playing their first season in the state-of-the-art Red Bull Arena, become the first team in MLS to maximize the use of all three available DP slots.
“At Red Bull we are aggressive now with our signings,” Red Bulls Sporting Director Erik Solér said. “We want to be aggressive … If soccer in the US is going to be in line with the other sports, you have to do it this way. You have to get world-class players on your roster to succeed in the shorter and longer term.”
To earn his signature, the Red Bulls had to beat out the likes of Italy’s Juventus, according to reports. But the three-time World Cup veteran was interested in a new challenge that Europe was just unable to offer him.
“I had options to go to other parts of Europe but with Barcelona I won all the titles that were there to play for,” Márquez said. “Getting back to Barcelona and speaking to them and knowing my place in the team … I would have more minutes to play [here].”
Red Bulls head coach Hans Backe made it clear that Márquez will feature in a central midfield, a position the Mexican National Team captain says he prefers. The RBNY manager also expressed his satisfaction at landing the former FC Barcelona man.
“I’m a happy man today,” Backe said. “Today we bring in experience, leadership and quality, quality, quality on the pitch. He’s only 31 years old and he’s a hungry player, and he definitely will make a difference on our midfield.”