20 Current World Football Stars Who Could End Up in Major League Soccer

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistAugust 22, 2011

20 Current World Football Stars Who Could End Up in Major League Soccer

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    With the latest transfer to Major League Soccer by one of the star players of Europe, it is time yet again to begin the speculation on who will be the next player after Robbie Keane to join the likes of David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan in the United States.

    Most of these players on the list have already established themselves as stars all over the world and some have even been rumored to join MLS in years past.

    Also, with the growing amount of American owners in Europe's big leagues the connections between major European clubs and MLS are growing with older players wanting to spend a year or two at the end of their career in America and thanks to the suggestions of American owners they may do that.

Samuel Eto'o

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    Eto'o has already globe trotted the world of soccer so moving to America would be no big problem, just another adventure.

    Also, by the time his contract is done with Anzhi in Russia, he will have plenty of money to live on so a pay cut to MLS as a designated player will be no big deal to the Cameroon international.

Ruud Van Nistelrooy

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    Van Nistelrooy has played for two of the biggest clubs in world soccer, Manchester United and Real Madrid, just like a certain Englishman playing for the LA Galaxy.

    The Dutchman may not have had followed the Beckham path just yet but who knows what is yet to come for the 35 year old forward.

    Now playing with Malaga in La Liga after spending a year with Hamburg in the German Bundesliga, van Nistelrooy still has an eye for the back of the net and could be seen on an MLS field in the next year or two depending on his second success with Malaga.


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    The man who almost joined LA Galaxy a year ago is now back in Brazil with Flamengo for now.

    The Brazilian playmaker would join the growing number of Brazilian players in MLS, where Juninho and Maicon Santos are beginning to make names for themselves.

    In my opinion, it is just a matter of time before the former Barcelona and AC Milan midfielder will make his debut in Major League Soccer.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic

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    Zlatan Ibrahimovic is no stranger to switching clubs and moving to another country.

    From Malmo to Ajax to the three Serie A clubs and Barcelona, the six foot five inch Swede has scored goals pretty much everywhere and he always seems to have his name mixed in transfer rumors.

    Whether or not the MLS would want the extra baggage that comes with Ibrahimovic is another question.

Juan Roman Riquelme

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    Say what you want about Riquelme's off field antics with his past managers, the Argentine still has tons of talent left in his body.

    Only 33 years old, Riquelme has been playing for Boca Juniors since 2008 and could be a veteran piece in the midfield like Cuauhtemoc Blanco was for the Chicago Fire.

    MLS may not be wanting to invest in Riquelme because of the off field issue at Villarreal but that was also close to five years ago now.

Ashley Cole

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    Cole may not put on a uniform for an American club for a few years but he has followed the general path of players rumored to go to MLS.

    By playing with a club for such a long time, both Arsenal and Chelsea, Cole could see the MLS as a stop right before retirement.

    There are a lack of quality fullbacks in the league and Cole would be the first high profile fullback to make to switch to MLS.

Francesco Totti

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    Totti has only known one club, Roma, since 1992 and most likely will retire with the club but a newfound American influence at the Italian capital club may sway Totti's perspective.

    New Roma owner Thomas DiBenedetto is American and may bring an American flavor to the club in future seasons and although he has no direct involvement with MLS, a newfound American support in Roma from fans could make Totti a fan favorite like he is in Rome.

    As much of a longshot it is, it would be cool to see Totti play in America and for MLS to have a star of the Italian national team in a country where the Azzurri are well supported.

Frank Lampard

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    Lampard is one of few European stars that has come out in the media and said he would be open to a move to MLS in the future.

    The England international is now 33 and is reaching the age where designated players in the MLS join the league.

    Lampard could be the next big name coming across the pond from the Premier League, possibly in a year or two for the new New York Cosmos club if they become the 20th MLS club.

Didier Drogba

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    Drogba would be only the second African designated player after Mustapha Jarju of Gambia joined the Vancouver Whitecaps this season to become the first.

    This would be a huge signing for MLS if it happened because of Chelsea's popularity in the states and the fact that Drogba spent the bulk of his career with the London club.

    Drogba moving to MLS could also open the door to not only Ivorian players, but more African players to come over to the league.

Wayne Rooney

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    Rooney would not be the first member of his family to become a MLS player.

    His brother, John went on trial with the Seattle Sounders in 2010 and became a member of the New York Red Bulls in 2011 through the MLS Supplemental Draft.

    Whether the younger Rooney could be paired up with the elder Rooney to form a deadly forward combination is yet to be seen and if it happens in MLS, it will be in a few years after John is fully developed as a player and Wayne is in the twilight of his career.

Carlos Tevez

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    Tevez always has his name mixed in the transfer rumors during every offseason and this past summer was no different.

    Claiming once again that he wants to be closer to his family, Tevez was thinking of leaving Manchester City to go play in South America.

    Tevez could play a little further north in MLS, but the inconsistency of whether he would want to be there instead of any other league would be a huge issue for commissioner Don Garber.

Mario Balotelli

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    Can you imagine the field day that the American press would have with Balotelli if he moved to MLS?

    It would be a Rodman-esque sideshow for Balotelli who has had plenty of bizarre situations occur away from the soccer pitch.

    Just for the media alone, I wish Balotelli would come over to MLS for just one season to provide the American soccer media with stories that baffle their minds on and off the field.

    However, Balotelli would be a complete disaster for any MLS club with developing talent eager to get on the pitch and any club would not a distraction like Balotelli around.

Giuseppe Rossi

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    What a storyline this would be for American fans.

    Rossi, who was born in New Jersey but never played in MLS and chose to represent Italy over the United States internationally.

    Having Rossi come back to America and play domestically would get mixed reactions.

    Some American national team fans still wish that the Villarreal forward would be wearing the red, white and blue instead of the blue of the Azzurri.

    It would be a good homecoming story, but it most likely will not happen as Rossi is looking towards playing for Europe's top clubs for a long time.

Clint Dempsey

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    This is one move that will most likely happen in the future.

    Dempsey could follow in the steps of Brian McBride, as being one of the best American players overseas and returning for a swan song in MLS.

    The Fulham midfielder has been arguably the best player for the American national team in the past five years and no matter what club he plays for it will give a small boost to attendance for MLS if the American number eight comes back home.

Giovani Dos Santos

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    Only 22 years of age, Dos Santos has failed to make an impression at the club level with Tottenham but has been a top star internationally with Mexico.

    Already with three loan spells away from White Hart Lane in three years, the midfielder must find a new club since it looks like Harry Redknapp will not give him the time of day.

    A perfect fit for Dos Santos would be a club close to the Mexican border so either Chivas USA, FC Dallas or the Houston Dynamo could use Dos Santos as a boost to their own success and attendance.

Filippo Inzaghi

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    The man who ranks second in goals in European competitions has a knack for scoring the big goals for AC Milan and at age 38 could be a candidate to play one season in MLS.

    The Italian forward is one of many players who have worn the colors of the national team to be rumored to be on his way to America.

    It would be nice to see Inzaghi come off the bench in the CONCACAF Champions League final for an MLS Club and score the game winning goal.

    But that is only a dream for now.

Gianluigi Buffon

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    Buffon could be the first major designated player signed as a goalkeeper.

    The Italian keeper is a bigger name than Frank Rost, who signed for the Red Bulls this summer as a DP, and will give the MLS club he joins an instant improvement at keeper.

    Just like all of the other Italian stars mentioned on this list, Buffon's move to MLS would be a very popular one since the Azzurri have a huge base of fans in America.

Rio Ferdinand

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    The England and Manchester United center back has been a stalwart in defense for years now and could be a great mentor to the youngsters of MLS.

    Ferdinand may not be able to teach MLS players how to win a trophy internationally, but he can definitely help them win many domestic trophies, just like he has done with United.

    Ferdinand is now 32 and with the insurgence of youth in the back four at Old Trafford, he could be looking for a new club in a few years and why not choose MLS.


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    Robinho has played for three major European clubs in his career so far and after earning all that money and playing more on Europe's big stage, it would be a good relaxation to play in MLS.

    As mentioned before with Ronaldinho, the amount of Brazilian players in MLS is growing and in five or seven years when Robinho is ready to join MLS, the number of Brazilians could be way more than it is now in MLS.

    A move from one of the superstars of Brazil to MLS would grow the diversity of the league and draw more players from the 2014 World Cup host nation,


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    The one man who has continuously been rumored to be heading state side is Raul.

    The top scorer ever in European competitions and former Real Madrid marksman was expected to join MLS last season after he left the Bernabeu but he opted for Schalke instead.

    Now with rumors swirling that the Spaniard is looking to leave Schalke after they failed to qualify for Europe, the MLS rumors can be kicked up again.

    Eventually this will happen, remember Raul is only 34 so he play around Europe for another year or two before finally making it to America.