(Wednesday, December 13, 2006) -- Standard de Liège of Belgium has indicated that American Oguchi Onyewu could leave the club as early January, when the international transfer window opens, and he probably will be headed either for England or Spain.
It was widely reported over the summer that the 24-year-old central defender had an offer from Middlesbrough of the English Premier League. In fact. Onyewu left the United States World Cup training camp in Germany for a day to fly to England to take a physical and to talk with club officials.
The deal did not go through, Onyewu later told SoccerTimes, because the English club was searching for a coach at the time and too many issues with the team were unsettled. So "Gooch" returned to Belgium for the start of the Jupiler League season.
What was not previous known is that the Spanish power Real Madrid made a bid for Onyewu just before the transfer window closed in August. Because the interest was expressed just before the deadline, Standard turned Real's offer down, needing more time to consider it.
Both offers appear to have remained on the table and Onyewu could make the move when the transfer window opens again in January.
"A transfer is now open to discussion," Standard coach Michel Preud'homme told Het Laaste Nieuws. "It was a fabulous offer (from Real), but we did not let Onyewu leave then because we had no time to bring in a replacement."
Newspapers in England have reported that Middlesbrough has left money in its budget for an Onyewu move to The Riverside, though if he decided to go elsewhere, the money could be used to make Jonathan Woodgate's loan move permanent.
Real has had problems on defense this season and might be more in need to Onyewu than it was during the summer. Should be earn a place in the starting lineup, Onyewu would probably end up playing next to Fabio Cannavaro, though Onyewu might wind up on the bench, giving Real's considerable depth.
Meanwhile, Standard has improved its play in the Jupiler League after an awful start caused, in part, because Onyewu missed some early matches with an injury.
On Sunday, Onyewu scored once and helped set up the late equalizer to help Liège come back from 3-0 and 4-1 deficits for a hard-earned 4-4 draw with arch-rival FC Bruges in a thrilling contest in Brugge.
Liège started to come back from its 4-1 deficit in the 64th minute and pulled within 4-2 five minutes later.
Onyewu scored to make it 4-3 in the 84th minute, taking a Sérgio Conceição corner kick and hitting a sharp header across the face of the goal, off the crossbar and in. Five minute later, Onyewu throw-in led to the tying tally.
Standard was awful in the first half. At one point, a cross glanced off Onyewu's head in the wrong direction and right to a Bruges player who put it away. But he made amends later when he took a sure goal away from Ibrahim Salou, clearing his chip off the goal-line.
Standard had won its previous two outings. On December 2, Liège defeated visiting Westerlo 3-0, following a 3-1 decision over Germinal Beerschot Antwerp November 24.
Onyewu has played well and has generally stayed away from yellow cards, except for the one he received in the 20th minute against Beerschot.
Liège sits in sixth place at 8-4-4 with 28 points, three points behind Bruges in third place and nine points behind league-leading Racing Genk.