The MLS is at something of a crossroads when it comes to its transfer dealings. The current method of trying to bring in the biggest names in European football, even if they're well past their prime, has seen mixed results. The interest in the game has certainly grown, and attendances are very healthy, with the MLS now having the eighth highest average attendance of any soccer league in the world.
However, results such as NY Red Bulls 7-0 defeat of New York City expose the on-field issues with such a policy. The New York City team was littered with stars such as Andrea Pirlo, David Villa and (albeit off the bench) Frank Lampard. The Red Bulls, meanwhile, started with just one designated player (Bradley Wright-Philips), who was essentially a third tier player in England, unlike the aforementioned superstars of the opposition.
It is clear then that big names aren't a guarantee for success, and perhaps now that the MLS has secured a good deal of public interest, it needs to focus more on ability than celebrity. The list of players on this list, all of whom could transfer to the MLS this summer, are a fair reflection of both it is fair to say, featuring genuine world class talent as well as players who are well past their best.
Here are the top 15 players who could join the MLS this summer:
Click the button below to start this article in quick view
15 Dionatan Teixeira
Dionatan Teixeira may seem a little underwhelming on the face of it, having spent three months of last season on loan at Fleetwood Town in the English third tier, but that is the same level in which Bradley Wright-Philips arrived in the MLS from, and look at the success he has had. Teixeira is a former Brazilian youth international who moved from South America to Slovakia at the age of 16. A center-back with good physical attributes, Teixeira could be well-suited to the MLS and is currently on trial at Orlando City.
Ten years ago the standard of the MLS was really rather poor and Ronaldinho was arguably the most talented footballer on the planet. One may have thought at that time that even once into his 40s Ronaldinho would have cruised into life in the MLS. As it happened, Ronaldinho's career began to tail-off before the Ballon d'Or winner had even turned 30, while the MLS made gradual progress.
A decade on and a couple of trips to Brazil and Mexico later, there would be question marks over whether Ronaldinho would be a good fit in the MLS. However, he was still playing for Brazil only three years ago and his agent recently said the 2002 World Cup winner's next move will be to either China or the MLS.
13 Emilio Izaguirre
Newly-appointed Celtic manager Brendan Rodgers will be looking to strengthen not weaken his squad this summer, but one man he could struggle to keep ahold of if reports coming out of Scotland are to be believed is Emilio Izaguirre. The Honduran international has spent the last six years in Glasgow, playing over 200 games for the club, but is reported to be eyeing up a 'dream move' to the MLS. The interested parties are yet to be revealed, but at only 30 years of age, Izaguirre would make a fine full back for any MLS side.
12 Mathieu Flamini
Three-time French international and former Marseille, Arsenal and AC Milan midfielder Mathieu Flamini is out of contract this summer, and has been heavily linked with a move to the States. Aged 32, at his best, Flamini was a dynamic and energetic defensive midfielder, capable of snuffing out opposition attacks and launching his own teams offensive movements. Last season though, Flamini looked out of his depth at the Emirates, and remaining in the Premier League seems unlikely. A return to France is possible but a move to the MLS is looking quite likely at this moment in time.
11 Stephane Sessegnon
Another man released by a Premier League club this summer is Stephane Sessegnon. The former PSG and Sunderland attacking midfielder was informed by West Brom boss Tony Pulis that the club would not be retaining his services ahead of the 2016/17 season. The 31-year-old is a talented flair player, who has a good turn of pace and an eye for a pass. Lower Premier League teams may still be interested, but should Sessegnon want to embark on a new challenge, many MLS teams would surely take a chance on the Benin international.
10 Brad Guzan
One USMNT goalkeeper has already made the decision to swap life in the Premier League for a homecoming in MLS, that being Tim Howard, and it looks increasingly likely that Howard's international teammate Brad Guzan could follow suit. Guzan has been the first choice goalkeeper at Aston Villa for three seasons now but having suffered relegation this season, the United States' current number one looks set to head for pastures new. Formerly of Chivas USA, Guzan has attracted Premier League interest, but it is thought as a second choice, whilst he would be a guaranteed starter in the MLS.
9 Dirk Kuyt
Dirk Kuyt may not be getting any younger, but he's showing no signs of slowing down. The former Dutch international with 104 caps to his name scored 23 goals last season, the joint third highest tally of his career, and his best in a decade. The 35-year-old rejoined Feyenoord in 2015 and has been tremendous ever since, even leading towards a surprise link with Barcelona. Kuyt's agent suggested a move to North America last week; renowned for his work-rate and energy, Kuyt is just the sort of player to take the MLS very seriously and be successful in the league.
8 Antonio Cassano
A rumour that began circulating last month in the Italian press, linking Antonio Cassano with a move to the MLS, following Sebastian Giovinco, Andrea Pirlo, Antonio Noccerino and more in making the switch from Serie A to the MLS. Cassano was one of the most naturally gifted players of his generation, but poor decision making has led to him being known for his short temper and bad attitude as much as his ability with the ball at his feet.
Still only 33, Cassano hasn't had a great time at Sampdoria this season and would be a risk for any MLS team, but if his head was on the right place he would be arguably the most talented and dangerous player in the league.
7 Miroslav Klose
The record goal scorer in World Cup history, Miroslav Klose may not have the elegance of a Pele, Ronaldo or Messi, but history will be kind to Klose due to his exceptional goal scoring rate, particularly in a Germany shirt. Klose has scored 71 goals in 137 games for Germany, including a record breaking 16 at World Cup's. He holds the records for the most World Cup finals reached, most World Cup medals won, most World Cup matches played in and most World Cup games won. Klose's contract with Lazio has now run out, meaning he has been the subject of much speculation, but the MLS will have to compete with Bundesliga teams if they are to secure the 37-year-old's signature.
6 Mikel Arteta
A Barcelona youth graduate who has graced the likes of PSG, Everton and Arsenal teams, Mikel Arteta is a player of considerable pedigree. The Spaniard has had injury problems and played only nine league games for the Gunners this season, and said he felt he was no longer good enough to represent the club. Despite being only 34, Arteta has been linked with hanging up his boots and becoming a coach for Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. The MLS could offer an alternative though, although some clubs could be worried about Arteta's legs, given the struggles players of his ilk have had in the league this season.
5 Francesco Totti
While it would be great for the MLS if Francesco Totti ended his career in North America, it would almost seem a shame to see the great man don any other club shirt than Roma's. Nicknamed the 'King of Rome', it is difficult to fully appreciate the adoration and importance of Totti at Roma to anyone outside of Rome. He joined the club at 13, made his debut at 16, began captaining the team at 22 and is now 39. He has played the most games, captained the most games and scored the most goals in the clubs history.
Amid links with a move the MLS, it is now being suggested Totti may extend his contract at Roma for one year before taking a directorial role at the club.
4 Radamel Falcao
The idea of Radamel Falcao playing in the MLS in just three years time in 2013 would have seemed ludicrous; but so too would the idea of Liverpool being outbid for a player by a Chinese team. Falcao's stock has fallen like a rock after two disastrous seasons on-loan at Manchester United and Chelsea. Falcao admitted MLS clubs were interested in him, Columbus Crew the most heavily linked, but insisted he wanted to prove himself in Europe once more. It remains to be seen what options Falcao will have able to him though, and if Europe's elite aren't interested, the MLS could be a possibility this summer.
3 Daniele De Rossi
If Daniele De Rossi were to sign for an MLS team it's fair to say it would be a major coup for the league. LA Galaxy and New York City are both reported to be interested in the defensive midfielder. The second Roma legend to make this list, De Rossi too has spent his entire career in the Italian capital, playing over 500 games for the club and over 100 for Italy. His current deal runs out in the summer of 2017, but with Roma yet to try and open up talks with the 2006 World Cup winner, there's a chance he could move on a year before his contract expires, with the MLS being touted as a possible next destination.
2 Nicolas Lodeiro
This one has looked imminent for a couple of weeks now, but there appears to be something stalling the deal. Uruguayan midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro, currently of Boca Juniors, has been trailed by the Seattle Sounders for some time now. The 27-year-old has some credentials, having played for the biggest club in Uruguay, the biggest club in Holland, the biggest club in Argentina and two of the largest in Brazil. He has 42 caps for Uruguay to his name and is a very talented and energetic attacking midfielder , who the Sounders owner described as a "player we like".
1 Zlatan Ibrahimovic
It was widely expected that Zlatan Ibrahimovic would move on this summer, with his contract at PSG having expired, and that has now been confirmed. The free agent and PSG all-time record scorer was heavily linked with a move to the Premier League, before rumours of a possible MLS deal began circulating. If Zlatan were to join the MLS this window, he would without doubt become the best player in MLS history. He may be 34 but last season was the Swede's best of his career, scoring 50 goals in 51 games.
A player with an incredible 28 trophies to his name, Zlatan is not heavily reliant on pace, and could probably play at the highest level until the age of 37. There are arguably only two teams in the world in which Zlatan would not walk into their first team, making a move to the MLS a little questionable, but strong rumours persist. Manchester United are currently the favourites to sign Zlatan under new boss Jose Mourinho.
Leave A Comment
Looking for an AD FREE EXPERIENCE on TheSportster?Get Your Free Access Now!