LAFC, who climbed high in the Supporters’ Shield standings last summer, would not have been blamed had they decided to keep the course, keep the team intact and keep fighting.
It wasn’t in their plan. First, LAFC has agreed to sign Italian legend Giorgio Chiellini on a free deal ahead of the summer transfer window after his contract with Juventus expires. A few weeks later, after his contract with Real Madrid expired, the club shocked fans on both sides of the Atlantic by signing Welsh superstar Gareth Bale. Both players were key pieces in LAFC’s bid for the MLS Cup title, with Bale equalizing late in extra time to send the game to penalties.
That is the power of free transfer.
With the European season coming to an end, contracts expiring and plans for the future made, MLS clubs will again try to capitalize on expiring contracts. In addition to scouting destinations, MLS clubs are tracking players who are out of contract and available for free, and holding informal conversations to explore potential prices and fit. no doubt.
In 2022, MLS clubs have tapped into the free agent market to sign a number of star players. In addition to Bale and Chiellini, Houston Dynamo added Mexican international star Hector Herrera, while Toronto FC coordinated the acquisition of Italian wingers Lorenzo Insigne and Federico Bernardeschi. Lesser-known players such as Carlos Acapo (San Jose Earthquakes), Cristian Tello (LAFC) and Abasa Alameyau (Philadelphia Union) also arrived.
Here are some options for MLS clubs to consider this summer, and some thoughts on which clubs make sense (in this case, this is just an opinion, not sources is not).
You’ve probably heard of him?
Inter Miami have long been courting the PSG and Argentinian superstars, but reports say a huge offer from Saudi Arabia is also looming. Messi details that he has agreed to promote tourism in Saudi Arabia. The Athletic in November.
If Messi chooses Miami, it could be the biggest deal in MLS history, rivaling and possibly surpassing the LA Galaxy’s acquisition of the league-changing David Beckham in 2007. There is As part of that agreement, Beckham had a clause in his contract. Acquires expansion side of MLS for $25 million after his retirement. The clause is part of Beckham’s ownership of Inter Miami and the driving force behind his bid for Messi.
The latest reports (which have been a string of no updates over the past six months) say Messi will make a decision soon and will notify the club, so perhaps it will all be over soon.
Possible clubs: Inter Miami or Bust?
If PSG don’t sign Lionel Messi, where?
Legendary Spanish midfielder Sergio Busquets is set to leave Barcelona this summer. Messi and Busquets could play together in Miami, but like Messi, Saudi clubs want to sign him.
“There are 3 or 4 choices on the table.” Busquets told RAC1. “They are all outside Europe.”
Busquets has reportedly signed a one-time deal with Messi, but he has denied the idea. Either way, if he were to come to MLS, he would very likely end up with Messi in Miami.
Dealing with a player like Busquets requires the club to be tactically and ideologically fit. That means playing (or planning to play) a possession-based style while also having midfield runners who can defensively cover the defense. Miami has the talent (at least if they’re fit), but given Andrea Pirlo’s not-so-perfect league run, I’m not sure how many players his style and age are in MLS. A certain amount of caution will be required as to whether it can be adapted to But the 34-year-old Busquets had started every game for Spain at the World Cup just six months ago, which may alleviate some of those concerns.
If he agrees to come, so be it.
Possible clubs: Inter Miami or Bust?
Honoring Sergio Busquets – an invisible genius that cannot be ignored
Of course, this has great potential. Firmino is one of Europe’s most famous free agents and is only 31 years old. He has been linked with moves to Inter Milan, Real Madrid and Barcelona, and for good reason.
But MLS expansion team St. Louis City are still trying. Sporting director Lutz Pfaninstil has maintained a strong relationship with the Brazilian forward since working together at Hoffenheim, the first European club Firmino played for before Liverpool.
Firmino signing for St. Louis at this stage in his career, even if unlikely at this point, would be a major coup for the club and the league. Why don’t you dream?
Possible clubs: It’s really just St. Louis for the sake of it, but maybe LAFC has a vacant DP spot.
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Another big name, a free agent number 10 for MLS clubs to consider.
Isco, 31, is out of contract after leaving Sevilla abruptly in the winter. He made 15 appearances for the club and left halfway through the season after his debut. He spent most of his career at Real Madrid, scoring 53 goals and 57 assists in 353 appearances. He won the Champions League five times with the Spanish giants.
Still at the end of his prime, Isco will soon become an MLS star.
But lately, signing players on his profile has been hit or miss, and Xherdan Shaqiri, MLS’ highest-paid player, doesn’t quite match what he’s paid in Chicago. Orlando saw positive results, with former Portugal international winger Nani enjoying three productive seasons as he led the club to the play-offs for the first time.
Could Isco be an alternative to Messi’s sweepstakes?
Possible clubs: DP spot and willing to spend.Like Atlanta United and LAFC if Inter Miami miss Messi
Isco’s fall from glory: Former Real Madrid star who had no club at 30
Jesse Lingard could also be an MLS star, although he doesn’t have exactly the same profile as Isco. His one-year deal with Nottingham Forest expires this summer and his contract expires.
The 30-year-old Lingard has fallen out of favor with the Premier League club, making just three appearances in the club’s final 21 games. He was expected to be an important starter, but was delayed by injuries. He failed to score a goal or assist in 927 Premier League appearances.
Prior to his move to Nottingham, Lingard was at the tail end of Manchester United’s squad before being loaned to West Ham, where he has scored nine goals and five assists in 16 appearances in 2021. Lingard was rumored to have signed for DC United last year. One year contract with Forest.
Possible clubs: Market similar to Isco.Teams with a DP spot and willingness to spend, such as Atlanta United and his LAFC
Former MLS MVP Alejandro Pozuelo is reportedly out of contract again this summer after signing a short-term contract with Turkey’s Konyaspor.
Pozuelo’s career was rejuvenated in the 2022 half-season at Inter Miami, and the player had hoped to return this winter, but the two sides failed to reach a deal. Given his productivity in MLS and the dedication to his time spent in the league, his return may be on the horizon.
A team that needs a creative No. 10 (and a system that doesn’t require a lot of defense from him) would be a good fit. The 31-year-old has three goals and two assists for Konyaspor.
Possible clubs: Cheaper option than Isco, Lingard. Whether or not Pozuelo needs to be a DP is up to the market. Is there an option to return to Miami if Messi doesn’t join?
Veteran forward Thiem Pukki, who scored 88 goals in five seasons at Norwich City, has left the club to become a free agent. His name surfaced in MLS circles last year as a potential deal.
Pukki, now 33, had one of Norwich’s least productive seasons of the year, but still managed 10 goals and seven assists in under 3,000 minutes. He scores goals when given chances and with the right systems to maximize his potential, Pukki could be a force.
Possible clubs: It would make a lot of sense if Minnesota United could open up a DP spot. Neither is Nashville SC, even if he’s not the big, target forward that Gary Smith likes. CF Montreal could be interesting.
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With Bas Dost just turned 35, the Dutch forward could be a useful short-term option for MLS clubs, especially clubs that play a more controlled game and can serve target strikers. There is
Dost has had a high goals-to-minutes ratio over the past few seasons.
- Nine goals in 1,346 minutes of league play for Utrecht this year
- 12 goals in 1,092 league minutes for Club Brugge in 2021/22
- 12 goals in 1,818 league minutes between Eintracht Frankfurt and Brugge in the 2020/21 season
A physically strong and decisive striker who always ages in this league. Robbie Keane and David Villa are history’s greatest examples, and Christian Benteke is in action for DC United right now. (Zlatan Ibrahimovic may fit this mold to some extent, but he’s both a generational striker and an alien, so we’ve created his own category in honor of him.)
Possible clubs: Nashville SC would be a perfect fit and they have a DP spot open if they want a short term deal.
Perez, 29, spent the second half of the 2022-23 season on loan at Real Betis from Leicester City. He has appeared in 16 of the 18 league games available since his arrival, starting all of the last 16. Betis have qualified for the Europa League again for the 2023/24 season.
A versatile attacker who can play anywhere up front, he could also fit well as a goal-threatening No. 10 under a forward or a reverse left wing. He made 195 appearances for Newcastle and 114 for Leicester City, spending most of his 20s in England.
At least one MLS club considered the terms necessary to sign him. It’s not cheap by any means, but I have a feeling Perez will come if the offer is right.
Possible clubs: A person who has a desire for in-prime DP and a willingness to consume. Miami, Atlanta United.
Dutch international Daly Blind has become a free agent after his short-term contract with Bayern Munich expired this summer. He has appeared in five games since signing in January.
Blind, now 33, started all five World Cup games for the Netherlands as a left wing-back. His athletic decline could be a problem in this league, but he’s been doing well internationally and could be used as a defensive midfielder in MLS.
Blind made more than 300 appearances for Ajax and another 141 for Manchester United in his career.
Possible clubs: A possession-based system or a DM controlling the ball in chaos? FC Cincinnati or LAFC would do.
Crystal Palace captain Luka Milivojević will play his last game for the London club after becoming a free agent this summer.
The 32-year-old, who made 198 appearances for Palace, could be a lucrative deal for MLS clubs in need of a seasoned midfielder. The proof: This winter, Charlotte FC signed Premier League veteran Ashley Westwood, who shares a similar age and profile to Milivojevic.
It can be difficult financially. MLS clubs are highly unlikely to take advantage of Milivojević’s DP slot, meaning they’ll have to accept a salary cap of about $1.65 million per season if they’re interested.
Possible clubs: Possession-based clubs like FC Dallas and Atlanta United make sense (if they find the cap space). It could be Miami without Busquets.
Considering Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s injury history and expected salary, his deal would be a risky deal for any MLS club.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is arguably in need of a valuable DP spot, but his talent and compelling profile may make several clubs consider signing him.
The 29-year-old boasts 35 caps for England and, when he was in good shape in the first few years of his Liverpool career, was key to the club’s trophy win at the top of Europe.
Possible clubs: This feels like an MLS 2.0 signature. His injury history should scare the club towards a DP deal. But if he stays healthy… desperate teams with open DP spots could try it.
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