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:
15 Dionatan Teixeira
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.
13 Emilio Izaguirre
12 Mathieu Flamini
11 Stephane Sessegnon
10 Brad Guzan
9 Dirk Kuyt
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.
7 Miroslav Klose
6 Mikel Arteta
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.
4 Radamel Falcao
3 Daniele De Rossi
2 Nicolas Lodeiro
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.
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