Migration of Stars to MLS to Continue in Next Five Years
Merry Christmas and happy holidays everyone! While the United States paused work to celebrate the holidays, MLS was busy receiving come hither glances from foreign soccer stars who, seeing Thierry Henry and Beckham’s success in the U.S., have decided that coming to American to finish their career would be most beneficial.
The most recent, and possibly biggest name, is AC Milan star Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who told Voetbal International this weekend that he would like to finish his career in a nice place in the U.S. before retiring. Previously, the striker had said AC Milan would be his last club, but indicates he would love the chance to make a little extra money playing in America in the future. The Swede would be a great get for MLS, as he is one of the world’s best goal-scorers and a bona fide star. His play early in the 2010-2011 Serie A season almost single-handedly kept Milan in the scudetto race as well as the Champions League. The one problem is his current contract runs through 2014, so if he does honor his contract it will be a long time before we see him in an MLS uniform.
The second big name is Chelsea forward and former French international Nicolas Anelka, who is under contract in England for the next two years. Anelka has made the rounds in international football, playing for (in addition to Chelsea) Arsenal, Liverpool, Paris Saint-Germain, and Real Madrid. Another incredibly gifted striker who even at an older age (he would be 33 in 2012) would be a major contributer to an MLS team. And he has an American soccer connection – his brother is former AC St. Louis coach Claude Anelka, who told a French soccer site “More and more players want to go playing over there. United States represents something. It makes you dream.”
A third potential international looking to make an American move is someone very familiar to national team members. Most recently of West Ham, Mexican-international Guillermo Franco is looking at all international options, including MLS as reported by Jeremiah Oshan. His status as unsigned makes him a promising prospect to play in the U.S., and there are clubs that could use his services. But he is also looking at the Middle East and wants to retire at Monterrey, where he was a star in the Mexican league.
Finally, the MLS site mentions that Fiorentina’s Adrian Mutu has possible interest in an MLS move. While Mutu is an immensely talented player, the Romanian is coming off a drug suspension and Fiorentina has indicated they do not want to resign him when his contract is up. His baggage may be too much to take on for an MLS club.