Older European stars love to come to the MLS. They have a chance to dominate their last few years playing in a growing league, plus they get the opportunity to live in America. The growth of the MLS has only made the league a more attractive place to play.
Going forward this trend won’t change. Many superstars have expressed their interest in the United States already. Here’s an MLS Multiplex list of European superstars set to join our league at the end of their careers.
1) Cristiano Ronaldo
The last time American soccer fans saw Cristiano Ronaldo in action he was placing a perfect cross through the box, leading Silvestre Varela to a header that ruined our 2-1 World Cup victory with 15 seconds left. Though Portugal did not advance in the World Cup, Ronaldo is set for another big year with Real Madrid. In an interview with ESPN FC, Ronaldo was quoted saying that he would one day like to play in the MLS. He noted that though the MLS can improve, the league is on the right track and at the end of his career he wishes to play in America. He’s been heavily recruited by David Beckham, who plans to start his own MLS franchise in America one day, to make a move later in his career.
Potential Fits: Beckham’s Miami franchise, LA Galaxy, NYCFC, Red Bulls
2) Gareth Bale
Alongside Ronaldo at Real Madrid is winger Gareth Bale. Together, the two won the Champions Cup last year and are poised to have another successful campaign in 2014-15. He’s got unbelievable speed, agility, and a ridiculous long shot. In an interview with the NY Post, Gareth Bale said that he’s not against the idea of bringing his talents to America one day. We may see Bale and Ronaldo playing for an expansion franchise reminiscent to their days in Madrid, you never know.
Potential Fits: Beckham’s Miami franchise, NYCFC, Red Bulls
3) Zlatan Ibrahimovic
The PSG striker and Swedish national team captain has had an incredible career overseas, playing for world-class clubs like Inter Milan, AC Milan, Barcelona, and Juventus. At 32 years old, Zlatan’s run is coming to a close. Next season might be the perfect time to make a move to the MLS. In an interview with SI, Ibra stated “I will really think about it because I find it very interesting to come over to America, because my friend Thierry Henry is playing there and he’s doing fantastic there… And he talks a lot of positive about the Major League Soccer, so it’s an interesting thing if the opportunity is still there in two to three years.” His relationship with Henry may be enough incentive for him to join the Red Bulls; an Ibrahimovic, Henry, and Bradley Wright-Phillips front line would be unstoppable.
Potential Fits: Toronto FC, Seattle Sounders, Orlando City SC
4) Wayne Rooney
Anyone who’s heard of Manchester United, one of the world’s most popular clubs, has heard of Wayne Rooney. He’s England’s best player, and has netted an astounding 232 career goals. The relationship between Rooney and Alex Ferguson has been on a noticeable decline for years now, and the recent signing of Robin Van Persie shows that Man U doubts Rooney as a long term option. At 28, he’s got a few years left before he’s too old to play at a high level. Fellow Premier League star Frank Lampard just made the jump to NYCFC, and in the future I expect Rooney to make the same move. His brother John had a brief stint in the MLS with the Red Bulls, which will either hurt or hinder a transfer move in the future.
Potential Fits: NYCFC, Beckham’s Miami franchise
5) Carlos Tevez
A prolific scorer for Manchester City and now Juventus, Carlos Tevez is a high-quality striker who could definitely benefit any team in the US. He has previously been linked to Toronto FC and, as he gets older, the MLS seems like a more viable option. In 31 games with Juventus last season, Tevez scored 19 goals, returning to his 2009-2010 form. He was snubbed from the Argentina World Cup roster this summer, which shocked fans and pundits alike. Given the triple teaming of Lionel Messi, it looks like they could have used Tevez’s scoring ability and hustle. I would expect him to make the switch later on after a few more years with Juventus.
Potential Fits: Toronto FC, NYCFC, LA Galaxy