Everyone loves a giveaway, and flipping the calendar to 2021 opens up a world of players MLS clubs could win for a royalty-free summer transfer.
In fact, they were all able to sign pre-deals to join new clubs on New Years Day. As always, we’re here to celebrate the summer giveaway market by suggesting key destinations.
This annual listing only applies to upcoming free agents playing in Europe. We’re not shy about the names of the Superstars, we’re excited to find lesser-known players who are worth following. It’s been a good formula since that bit started in 2010. At least one listed player (and up to three) made a free transfer to MLS in the year they were listed.
As always, players who have either played in the MLS, have publicly indicated their willingness to play in the USA or are affiliated with a league club carry an asterisk. As you’d expect, we need to get some honorable mentions out of the way first: Patrick van Aanholt, Jose Izquierdo, Eliaquim Mangala, and Nelson Oliveira.
Sergio Aguero *
While an injury and COVID-19 have limited him to nine games this season, I certainly wouldn’t bet Manchester City’s all-time all-time goalscorer has washed ashore. Any MLS club that signs him shouldn’t hear any bumps against the “retirement goal”. Aguero may be 32 years old, but his hit rate per 90 from 2019-20 was the second highest of his career. If that doesn’t convince you, listen to Pep Guardiola who keeps lamenting how much the team misses him. Meanwhile, various reports linked “Kun” to a summer MLS move just last week.
Jerome Boateng *
When it comes to European players expressing a desire to play in MLS, Boateng is sure to be top of the list. The central defender of FC Bayern Munich has openly expressed the desire to play in America for years, right up to a mention a few months ago. There would definitely be a contest for his signature but not from Bayern, who reportedly decided not to renew the 32-year-old’s contract. Nevertheless, it remains a stable, matter-of-fact backliner that stops ideas and safely moves the ball out.
Mijo Caktas *
It is sometimes overlooked, but MLS clubs have had decent success in getting criminals out of Eastern Europe. Robert Warzycha, Peter Nowak, Joel Lindpere, Borek Dockal, Nemanja Nikolic, Damir Kreilach … it’s a miracle that teams don’t shop there more often, I say. Caktas is number 10, but he’s much more of a box raiding finisher than an orchestrator. It only takes him a meter and a second for the gate to look easy out of traffic, and the 28-year-old has never hit a pass that he disliked. So he sits on successive golden boots in the Croatian top league.
Sebastian Driussi *
I fully explored Driussi during training to learn how these guys do their jobs. Suffice it to say, I personally observed the Zenit St. Petersburg attacker and have a detailed opinion on him. At the time, my mind was that it wasn’t good value for money for MLS teams (although Inter Miami reportedly disagreed). Things are very different now, and not just because there is no transfer fee in June. Zenit managers tend to play the Argentine farther from goal than he would prefer and are therefore looking for a new adventure. It’s not that the 24-year-old isn’t solid enough to do hard work in midfield. He would much rather find good target spots in the box, play killer crosses, and trigger onslaught in space.
Ethan Horvath *
I usually make sure an American is accepted into the bunch and this winter Club Brugge Netminder is the obvious choice. Just as he became the Jupiler League’s first goalkeeper, the club brought Simon Mignolet back from Liverpool. I can’t promise Horvath is ready to come home (he will certainly have options overseas) but he would be a great catch. At the age of 25, the shot stopper has already played 23 games in UEFA, including a 3-0-1 record with one goal in the actual Champions League. The US men’s national team has also worked hard to improve its area command and distribution.
The Holstein midfielder from Kiel could consider a next move as a key role for a hopeful promotion if he slips out of the race. Simply put, he was one of the best players in the 2nd Bundesliga this season. Lee plays 10th place but also performs many duties associated with box-to-box players. He takes defense work very seriously and is difficult to overtake in Central Park. He uses this care to jump counters with good visibility. As a playmaker, the 28-year-old is not a magician who can take the defense apart at will, but he does the offensive function and offers additional production. Every manager who has a double number The facility should keep an eye on the South Korean veterinarian.
Since Galatasaray has put off an imminent return to MLS for DeAndre Yedlin – Seattle Sounders’ proprietary product that was only put on paper – a shrewd buyer may be able to take advantage of the nudge. The Lions currently have an ace in Linnes that can be signed in a pre-deal. The Norwegian international is an excellent 1-on-1 defender. He can hardly undress because he is always under control. The 29-year-old is just as adept at going up the flank, even if he’s more of a move-linker than a crosser.
Duckens Nazon *
This isn’t the first time I’ve proposed to the Haiti striker – he has previously expressed a desire to join Inter Miami – but this time it’s available as a giveaway. It took the seedy Nazon a while to get it all together in Europe, but this season he’s scored six goals for a medium-sized club in just over 900 minutes (he’s the former squad teammate of Chris United, St. Truiden by DC United). in Belgium’s top league. Because he’s fiery and plays with an edge, I have a feeling he could have a Blaise N’Kufo-esque influence with the right MLS side.
The Porto man is a rare # 10 race player. Otavio has a knack for taking dangerous free kicks and loves to beat teammates (he’s in the top five assists-per-90 games in the last six seasons in represented the top 10 of the Liga NOS). Here’s what’s special: he’s just as keen to put up defensive resistance. The 25-year-old, who is certainly not afraid of getting stuck, finished second in the league of tackles won last season. The Vancouver Whitecaps have reportedly made a smart pre-contract offer for their services, but they (and any other potential MLS applicants) should expect stiff competition from Serie A.
Josh Sims *
Yes, we’re talking about the same winger the New York Red Bulls loaned out last summer. Just as it was looking like Sims was getting into MLS life, COVID-19 came to break its potential move and then returned to the Southampton Parents Club. I can think of several clubs that could use a promising action figure, like 23 year old Sims on the flank.