With the MLS bidding adieu to English soccer legend and celebrity, David Beckham, focus must return to how America can improve its professional league of soccer. Clearly, Beckham’s arrival helped spur other international stars to move here like Thierry Henry, Robbie Keane, and Tim Cahill; all heroes abroad in their respective homelands of France, Ireland, and Australia. So with the MLS focused on adding more veteran international star-power to their ranks, who is the next big name to make the trans-Atlantic journey to America? Here are my top 5 players that would be likely to come here in the near future:
1. Kaka – The Brazilian superstar has fallen hard since he won the 2007 Ballon d’Or, given to the best player in European soccer. Winning the UEFA Champions League that year, Kaka soon moved to Real Madrid in 2009 but injuries slowed down his career. Playing under legendary manager Jose Mourinho, Kaka has been relegated to a bit-part player in the side behind others like Cristiano Ronaldo, Angel De Maria, and Mesut Ozil. Kaka’s agent has mentioned the MLS as a “dream” for the player and he may soon be headed to the Galaxy to replace the departing Englishman.
2. Frank Lampard – The former creative genius at Chelsea has now been usurped by the likes of Eden Hazard, Juan Mata, and Oscar, three creative forces that are still improving while Lampard at 34 wastes away on the bench. He needs to move to a new club to find playing time, and although he could probably play for a lesser Premier League club and make an impact, he could earn far more money through the MLS and America. With the January transfer window opening next month, he could be in America very soon.
3. Didier Drogba – The Ivory Coast soccer sensation reportedly rejected a record $10 million dollar deal with the MLS last summer and chose to join the Chinese league with the club Shanghai Shenhua. However, there were all sorts of boardroom issues with club and he was reported to go on strike during the season. Although he aims to return next season, the MLS could swoop in and make a strong argument for the player. Bringing star power and prestige from his dominating style and impressive displays in leading Chelsea to the Champions League trophy last season, Drogba would be the ideal candidate for American soccer to pursue.
4. Wesley Sneijder – The Dutch maestro has built a solid career at clubs like Real Madrid and Inter Milan. Additionally, he scored five goals in the 2010 World Cup, helping the Netherlands reach the final where they lost to Spain in extra time. Sneijder has come under fire in Italy for refusing to take a significant pay cut and has been rumored in a move to Manchester United for years. At 28, he still has a long career ahead of him. His wife is an actress though, and the possibility of him moving to Los Angeles has been discussed. This move may be several years down the road, but is certainly a possibility.
5. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – The physically imposing Swedish striker is at the peak of his powers. Recently signed to Paris Saint-Germaine, the next big-spending super club, he has been scoring incredible goals at an impressive rate. He has played for a whole host of big clubs like Barcelona, Inter Milan, and AC Milan. Additionally, he has mentioned a possibility of ending his career in the MLS, and he would be a fantastic addition for the league. However, since he has just joined PSG and is still playing at such a high level, this move may be put off for some time.