Soccer agents will trot out the old line their client is looking for “a new challenge” whenever they fatten up their own bank accounts and make a move to a new club. But a move to the MLS can only mean one of the following: they need to play a lot more football, are over 30 and want to have a guarantee of a longer contract, or have been stuck in the European soccer bubble for far too long.
Putting aside the world of fantasy for one moment where Lionel Messi is lining up for the LA Galaxy against Cristiano Ronaldo’s New York Red Bulls, there is a wealth of talent across the EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A and Ligue 1 to consider. Squads are limited to 25 in Europe, which squeezes out a host of players who could tear up the Major League Soccer competition.
The influx of stars like Giovani Dos Santos and Sebastian Giovinco in their 20s tells us the MLS is fed up paying for players who have past their used-by date. OK they’re still guilty of that to a degree (Andrea Pirlo, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba), but they are the top shelf purchases and marketable stars that make people tune in from all corners of the globe. You can’t blame them for dipping their toes in the stardust every so often.
While the franchises battle it out for conference supremacy and finals places in 2015, only one team will fulfill their ambition and become champions. That leaves 19 clubs to pick up the pieces and find a solution.
But where? Who? Relax, we’ve got you covered. Here are the Top 15 Soccer Players Who Should Transfer To MLS.
15 Fraizer Campbell
Crystal Palace’s form is the story of the English Premier League season so far. Since their offseason acquisition of Yohan Cabaye, the Eagles set down a marker to tell the competition they are not the mid table lightweights of seasons past. Yet with this success comes a reality – they need to offload players. One of them who could fall into the laps of an MLS franchise is English striker Frazier Campbell. At 28, the former Manchester United front man should be in the prime of his career, so let the bidding begin!
14 Lucas Leiva
Another 28-year-old in the market, the Liverpool anchor in midfield is angling for a move away from Anfield and the MLS should be a popular destination. Rumors in the UK press are speculating the Brazilian could be involved with another man on the Top 15 list within Europe, but we’re hoping he could be enticed to move a lot closer to his native continent.
13 Emmanuel Adebayor
It’s ok Spurs fans – Emmanuel Adebayor has left the building! After a long battle between the player and club where Tottenham even paid a big chunk of his wages on loan not to play for their soccer club, the two parties “mutually agreed” to terminate his contract and thus become a free agent. From what we know about Adebayor, he loves a move. After catching fire for one season at Arsenal, the Togolese striker had small bursts of form for Manchester City and Spurs until he lost interest. Perhaps a fresh move away from the EPL will revitalize the player and he can enjoy being a big fish in a smaller pond, though it's been rumored he might be staying in the Premier League.
12 Marvin Emnes
If his awesome dreadlocks don’t catch the eye, his devastating runs from the wing will. Like Frazier Campbell, Marvin Emnes is the victim of playing for a club on the up and has fallen out of favor at the selection table. The former Middlesbrough Dutch flyer has a lot of currency in the game left at 27 with the one asset you can’t coach - speed to burn.
11 Ashley Cole
Once upon a time Ashley Cole was not the laughing stock of the soccer world, he was actually the best left back in the game. Ever since that fateful moment where he was left awkwardly posing on the edge of a Roma team photo sparking a series of endless memes, people neglected the qualities Ashley can bring to a team – even the team that actually signed him forgot. Ashley should have enough credits in the bank with a glittering career spanning Arsenal, Chelsea and England, more than enough of a reason to switch to the glitz and glamor of life in the USA.
10 Hamit Altintop
Perhaps the most out-of-the-box suggestion in the Top 15, Altintop is a Galatasaray and Turkey legend in his home country. The versatile 32-year-old has played almost every spot on the soccer field bar goalkeeper such is his adaptability. Altintop has experience in the World Cup, Champions League and playing for Real Madrid on his CV. If you can handle the pressure of performing for the biggest club in Turkey and the biggest club in the world, then the MLS should be a comfortable transition.
9 Steven Naismith
Forget the hat trick against Chelsea, that’s old news. We’re not bandwagon riders here at TheSportster, we just know value when it jumps up and bites us. Steven Naismith has spent his entire life in the English Premier League fighting the doubters and having to bust his backside to prove his worth. The Everton attacking list is not short of options – Kevin Mirallas, Steven Pienaar, Aaron Lennon, Aiden McGeady, Gerard Deulofeu etc., the list goes on. The Scottish international could prove to be Robbie Keane 2.0, leading the attack for a franchise and setting the standards off and on the field.
8 Charles N’Zogbia
Charles N’Zogbia is the definition of an enigmatic French soccer player. The last few years of his career have been spent going in, then out, then in, then out of the Aston Villa lineup. When he’s in form, there are few better to watch, but like any fleet-footed winger he fluctuates depending what side of the bed he woke up on. Like many others on this list, he’s guilty of going stale on EPL wages and it’s time someone gave him a kick up the backside. MLS fans would love him; he’s a highlights reel waiting to happen.
7 Tomas Rosicky
Now we know the word “injury” closely follows the name Tomas Rosicky, but if he gets fit then Major League Soccer would have one hell of a player on their hands. The Arsenal number 7 burst onto the global scene when he scored a scorcher of a goal, ironically enough against the USA, for the Czech Republic at the World Cup in 2006. The 35-yard plus thunderbolt proved that he has one hell of a right boot and while his last few years with Arsenal hasn’t been his best, a fresh start could be just what the doctor ordered.
6 Denis Cheryshev
Transfers rarely happen between Real Madrid and an MLS franchise, and it would be breaking new ground for it to happen for a 24-year-old. Call us crazy, but the young Russian starlet could be the ideal marquee man for a team balancing CONCACAF Champions League, cup and regular league duties. His performances for Villarreal last season were exceptional, but cracking the Los Blancos XI is looking beyond him. At approximately $8-10 million, he would be a massive investment, yet his best football is ahead of him.
5 Nuri Sahin
Four years ago, Nuri Sahin was a hot property in Europe, transferring from Borussia Dortmund in Germany to Real Madrid for a cool fee of £7 million. Unfortunately he flattered to deceive and a subsequent move back to Dortmund via Liverpool has seen Sahin’s stock dip. However, his talent is obvious, from slick passing ability to movement across the park – the 27-year-old Turkish international can really play. There is huge competition to make the Dortmund starting XI these days and a switch to the MLS should not be off the table.
4 Victor Valdes
Hurry up guys – Jose Mourinho is ready to swoop. Somehow the out-of-favor Manchester United goalkeeper failed to move in the summer transfer window after manager Louis Van Gaal announced to the press that his career was officially finished at Old Trafford. The Spanish goalie has a litany of trophies in his cabinet from his Barcelona days and there are few better in the world at distributing the soccer ball out from defense than Valdes. Goalkeepers don’t get the fans out of their seats, but if the MLS comes in under Chelsea’s noses and picks up Victor they won’t be disappointed.
3 Jeremy Menez
The other man rumored to be involved in the Lucas Leiva switch deal; Jeremy Menez could light up Major League Soccer. The French playmaker/striker is a magnificent talent who has a hatful of match winning performances under his belt for his country, Roma, PSG and AC Milan. The Rossoneri’s bloated squad is in need of a reshuffle and the Milan club could be willing to listen to offers if the right one comes in. Who knows, perhaps David Beckham’s connections with the Italian giants could the final piece in the puzzle?
2 Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Zlatan – the man who speaks about himself in the third person and uses his name as a verb. The mercurial Swedish forward is one of the greats of his generation, scoring wonder goals with his powerful athletic frame and ability to hit the back of the net from any angle possible. He is pure box office wherever he goes and would be the biggest thing since Beckham to come to America. Entering his mid 30s doesn’t fit the new and improved MLS model, but you make exceptions for people like Zlatan. Just ask Zlatan.
1 Yaya Toure
Coming in at number one is Yaya Toure, the dynamic Ivorian midfielder who bosses his EPL opposition with late runs into the box and deft touch under pressure. Manchester City would be very reluctant to sell, but the wealthiest club in England knew Yaya has been angling for a move ever since he threw a tantrum at the end of last season when the club didn’t give the player a cake for his birthday. Besides that, we know they can afford a replacement and Toure is at a time of his career where a change would be as good as a holiday. Any team with Yaya would lift 15-20% in a heartbeat.