5 MLS Players Who Would Be Perfect Transfers for European Clubs

Alex WindleyJanuary 28, 2023

5 MLS Players Who Would Be Perfect Transfers for European Clubs

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    FOXBOROUGH, MA - OCTOBER 1: Thiago Almada #8 of Atlanta United looks to pass during a game between Atlanta United FC and New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium on October 1, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/Getty Images).
    Andrew Katsampes/ISI Photos/Getty Images

    Major League Soccer has quickly turned itself into a selling league.

    Often thought of as a retirement home for aging stars, MLS has begun to change that narrative with the European signings of young up-and-coming talent.

    Players like Jhon Durán, Gaga Slonina, Paxten Aaronson, Djordje Mihailovic, and more have jumped from MLS to Europe over the winter window.

    As the 2023 MLS season progresses, we will see even more players come through that will be ready to make that next step.

    Here are five players who would be perfect transfers for European teams.

Julián Carranza

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    WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 20: Philadelphia Union forward Julian Carranza (9) celebrates after his third goal of the game during the Philadelphia Union versus D.C. United Major League Soccer (MLS) game on August 20, 2022 at Audi Field in Washington, D.C.. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    If there's any name on this list poised for a fruitful 2023 season, it's Julián Carranza.

    Initially transferred from Banfield to Inter Miami in 2019, Carranza was then acquired by the Philadelphia Union in 2022 via trade.

    A change of scenery was just the boost the Argentine needed to show off his potential.

    In 31 matches for the Union, the 22-year-old scored 14 goals and provided six assists all while leading them to the MLS Cup Final.

    The Athletic Soccer @TheAthleticSCCR

    🎩 Hat trick history 🎩<br><br>Julián Carranza becomes the second player in MLS history to score two hat tricks against the same team in one season.<br><br>🎥 | H/T <a href="https://twitter.com/MLS?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@MLS</a> <a href="https://t.co/PnrZhvP25D">pic.twitter.com/PnrZhvP25D</a>

    He's tough, adept at using his speed and physicality to bully defenders, technically sound and has a relentless engine.

    Carranza has all the tools needed to succeed in Europe. If he continues his superb form this season, it's hard to see the Union being able to keep him.

Miles Robinson

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    KENNESAW, GA  APRIL 20:  Atlanta defender Miles Robinson (12) passes the ball during the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup match between Chattanooga FC and Atlanta United FC on April 20th, 2022 at Fifth Third Bank Stadium in Kennesaw, GA.  (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Though he was sidelined because of injury for most of 2022, Miles Robinson has been a rock at the back for Atlanta United.

    Standing at 6'2" and possessing an ideal combination of speed and strength, Robinson has enough MLS minutes under his belt to try his luck in Europe.

    He's been linked to a move abroad before, but he's stated in the past he's in no rush to leave. However, his contract with Atlanta is set to expire this year, and he has yet to sign their latest offer.

    Tom Bogert @tombogert

    Carlos Bocanegra says Atlanta United's four-year contract offer to USMNT center back Miles Robinson remains on the table and unsigned.<br><br>"We'll have continued conversations, but we're not in a rush or going to take the offer off the table."<br><br>Current deal expires after the season. <a href="https://t.co/aqRBhoQFPN">https://t.co/aqRBhoQFPN</a>

    Now, he may not be quite ready for a top-five league, but perhaps heading to a country like Belgium, the Netherlands or even the English Championship would be an ideal landing spot.

    Whatever Robinson decides in the future, there's no denying he's a terrific defender and ready to step up a level.

Brandon Vazquez

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    FOXBOROUGH, MA - JULY 03: FC Cincinnati center forward Brandon Vazquez (19) controls the ball during a match between the New England Revolution and FC Cincinnati on July 3, 2022, at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Brandon Vazquez is one of the best strikers in MLS.

    His 18 goals and eight assists last season saw FC Cincinnati clinch 5th place in the Eastern Conference.

    He's strong, quick for his size, intelligent and a solid all-around finisher.

    Vazquez also excels at leading a forward line.

    His height and movement in the final third make him a threat in the air and a menace to opposition defenders.

    His form in 2022 was so good that there were talks about bringing him into the United States men's national team for the FIFA World Cup.

    Unfortunately, he didn't get the call-up, but he recently made and scored on his debut with the Stars and Stripes.

    B/R Football @brfootball

    Brandon Vazquez scores on his USMNT debut 🇺🇸 <a href="https://t.co/Cz4Etf06Tf">pic.twitter.com/Cz4Etf06Tf</a>

    The 24-year-old has stated his desire to move to Europe, but there haven't been any concrete offers yet.

    Should his excellent form continue in 2023, Vazquez will surely move abroad soon.

John Tolkin

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    HARRISON, NJ - OCTOBER 15: John Tolkin #47 of New York Red Bulls passes the ball in the second half of the Eastern Conference Round One match in the Audi 2022 MLS Cup Playoff against FC Cincinnati at Red Bull Arena on October 15, 2022 in Harrison, New Jersey. (Photo by Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images)
    Ira L. Black - Corbis/Getty Images

    John Tolkin has everything needed in a modern-day fullback.

    He attacks with intelligence and defends like a seasoned veteran. Still only 20 years old, Tolkin boasts impressive composure for a young defender.

    Takes 🇺🇸 @USMNTTAKES

    🚨 20 year old USMNT prospect John Tolkin today<br><br>☑️ 90 min <br>🔑 2 tackles <br>🔀 3 chances created (match highest)<br>⚔️ 8 duels won <br>🔥 100% dribbles completed<br>💪 5 ball recoveries<br>❌ 0 times dispossessed<br>✅ 7.9 FotMob rating <br><br>The left back is developing very well in MLS. 🔥 <a href="https://t.co/43SKEJpYA6">pic.twitter.com/43SKEJpYA6</a>

    He's got good defensive anticipation, reads the game well, and has superb tactical awareness. Over the past calendar year, FBref's scouting report has Tolkin in the 99th and 93rd percentile of interceptions and tackles, respectively, among fullbacks within the "Men's Next 8 Competitions" group. This tier includes MLS, Brazilian Série A, Liga MX, Copa Libertadores, the Dutch Eredivisie, English Championship, Portuguese Primeira Liga and UEFA Europa Conference League.

    Offensively, while he may not be an out-and-out attacking fullback, he still manages to be very impactful. He's in the Next 8 Competitions' 82nd percentile of shot-creating actions, most of which come from his exceptional deliveries on set pieces.

    Tolkin has been linked to European clubs before, but seeing as though he just signed a new contract with the New York Red Bulls, a move abroad may not happen anytime soon.

Thiago Almada

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    ATLANTA, GA  AUGUST 28:  Atlanta midfielder Thiago Almada (8) applauds a teammate during the MLS match between D.C. United and Atlanta United FC on August 28th, 2022 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA.  (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Thiago Almada became the first active MLS player to win a World Cup when Argentina lifted the trophy this winter. He might not be in the league much longer, though.

    The quintessential playmaker, Almada impressed during his first season in MLS with Atlanta United, scoring six times and assisting seven.

    The 21-year-old possesses flair, has fantastic vision, and evades defensive pressure with a sense of calm.

    He can play on either wing but excels as a central or attacking midfielder.

    Major League Soccer @MLS

    Banger. Thiago. Almada. 💥<br><br>Almada with a rocket to open the scoring for <a href="https://twitter.com/ATLUTD?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@ATLUTD</a>. <a href="https://t.co/kbbU33Ji47">pic.twitter.com/kbbU33Ji47</a>

    The Argentine also led his team in assists and is in the Next 8 Competitions' 94th percentile of shot-creating actions among attacking midfielders and wingers.

    Out of all the players on the list, Alamada is the most likely to move to Europe in the next 18 months. His stock is high after the World Cup win, and with Atlanta amid a rebuild, if a sizable offer comes in for the Argentine, it could be difficult for them to say no.