Vancouver Whitecaps Transfer Rumor: Might Peter Utaka Be MLS's First-Ever African Designated Player?

The Vancouver Whitecaps will make an announcement on Tuesday morning, this much we know for sure. All indications are that it's a Designated Player signing. To determine that player's identity, we've been given a virtual bread crumb trail by Nigerian journalist and national team press officer Colin Udoh through a series of tweets.

First, Udoh let it slip that a MLS team was getting ready to announce the first ever African DP. Then he said he captained his national team. Finally, he added that he captained his country at the U17 level and that he scored 20 goals in European competition last season.

It's very much speculation, but one player who seems to pretty closely fit Udoh's criteria is Peter Utaka, a 27-year-old Nigerian forward who scored 20 goals while playing with Danish side OB in 2010-11. Utaka reportedly fell out of favor in Denmark after being accused of laziness. 

While hardly a household name, the move would make some sense, at least from a speculative standpoint. If Utaka is, indeed, on the outs in Denmark, MLS would seem a reasonable landing spot. He has national team experience -- seven caps and three goals -- but not so much that the bigger European leagues would be willing to overlook a potentially questionable work ethic. 

The Whitecaps also showed a willingness to look at mid-level European leagues when they signed Eric Hassli out of Switzerland. Like Hassli, Utaka appears to have the kind of size -- 5-foot-9 and 160 pounds -- that MLS tends to reward. Utaka had been linked to rumors in England that West Ham was interested, but that was before they were relegated.

Other players who seem to fit the vague profile include Mamadou Niang, the Senegalese forward who scored 20 goals for Fenerbahce last season. Perhaps the biggest problem with him as a possible candidate is that he signed a 3+1 deal with Fenerbahce in 2010, is coming off a very good year and seems unlikely to be within the Whitecaps' price range.

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