By Alex Al-Kazzaz
Over the years, numerous players with illustrious careers in Europe have found themselves in Major League Soccer. From Ballon d'Or winner Kaka to Bayern Munich legend Bastian Schweinsteiger to France's all-time leading scorer Thierry Henry to the pride of England David Beckham and finally the pride of Sweden, which would be Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The MLS has seen more than its fair share of European legends. Wayne Rooney, Andrea Pirlo, and Frank Lampard have even played in the league. The league has witnessed World Cup champions, Champions League champions, Europa League Champions, etc being part of its system. For the MLS, to have numerous legends with brilliant accolades and extraordinary careers in the biggest clubs in Europe is the way to improve for the future.
No doubt, more European stars are bound to arrive in the future. Recently, Los Angeles FC signed Juventus legend Giorgio Chiellini and Real Madrid legend Gareth Bale.
Here are some that could possibly play in MLS in the future;
Without a doubt, Barcelona's greatest player of all time. Messi has won the Ballon d'Or seven times and has won the UEFA Champions League a total of four times. In addition, he's won the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup three times each. The ten-time La Liga champion also won the Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana seven times respectively.
Last summer, Messi helped Argentina win its 15th Copa America title. In 2014, he and Argentina were runners-up in the FIFA World Cup final. Recently, he captained Argentina to a 3-0 win over Italy in the 2022 CONMEBOL-UEFA Cup of Champions Finalissima.
The list of accomplishments in Messi's career is endless. And at 35 years old, Messi is showing no signs of slowing down. He's currently playing for Paris Saint-Germain. His departure from Barcelona was quite the story and PSG wasted no time in signing him. Messi's current deal is through next summer, but there is an option for an additional 12 months.
At this point, a return to Barcelona for Messi is more than unlikely as his former club should focus on grooming the younger players to build for the future. In Messi's case, a move to the MLS would certainly be greatly beneficial for him. As he is now in the final phase of his career, he can finish it in a playing environment where he won't be under as much pressure. No doubt, a player of his caliber can make a strong impact in the MLS. For him, MLS may be the best way to close the final chapter on a unique influential career.
Griezmann's journey to making it as a soccer player is quite the story. The documentary is quite inspiring. As inspiring as the documentary is, viewers are in for something more important as they learn a lot about Griezmann that most did not know. It's worth taking the time to watch. To say that viewers learn a thing or two would be a major understatement. Like Messi, Griezmann has amassed quite an impressive list of individual awards to go along with his club accomplishments.
After a very respectable spell at Real Sociedad, the French striker eventually arrived at Atletico Madrid where he was able to take his skills and career to the next level. Soon his career took off. In 2016, he was nominated for the Ballon d'Or. During that time, he was also making a name for himself representing France in international duty where he was Euro 16's top goal scorer and best player. In 2018, he helped France win the World Cup for the first time since 1998, as he scored a total of four goals in the tournament, including one in the final.
In 2019, Barcelona acquired Griezmann for a total of 120 million Euros. Unfortunately, Griezmann's run was very disappointing. The best way to describe Griezmann's Barcelona spell is honestly below average to mediocre at best. It's justified considering he only scored 22 goals in 74 La Liga matches. In addition, in Champions League play, he only had four goals. Quite frankly, a frustrating and embarrassing abject failure for both Barcelona and Griezmann. No doubt, it has affected Griezmann's career, especially in international play. Griezmann has struggled lately in international duty and it's getting to the point where his time representing France is close to being over.
Griezmann returned to Atletico Madrid last August on a loan. In 26 La Liga play, he scored three goals. Overall, he scored eight goals in 36 appearances. It's clear that Griezmann's future is unclear.
At this point, Griezmann is really falling out of favor if he hasn't already. Therefore, a move to the MLS may be the place for him to salvage his career and perhaps keep his passion and love for the game intact. If the 31-year-old striker still has plenty left to offer, a move to the United States may be the best thing for him. Honestly, it may be the only option unless he would rather retire.
In 2017, Neymar joined Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona for a world-record fee of 222 million Euros. After achieving respectable success with Barcelona, the Brazilian striker was poised to be the future of Les Parisiens. With PSG, Neymar is a four-time Ligue 1 champion and he has won the Coupe de France three times and Coupe de la Ligue twice. In addition, he's a two-time Trophee des Champions winner.
Like Messi and Griezmann, Neymar has amassed a near-endless list of career accomplishments. And while Neymar has faced some difficult times with PSG, he has certainly had a respectable run. Neymar has scored 100 goals in 144 appearances. He has dealt with some injuries, but overall, Neymar has done well for PSG.
Last May, Neymar signed a four-year extension with PSG. Rumor has it that PSG is looking to sell Neymar. It may be good for Neymar to play elsewhere as it's clear that PSG is fully invested in Kylian Mbappe. Neymar is linked with a possible move to Juventus, but as far as a potential transfer goes, nothing has materialized so far, which would suggest that he is staying in Paris.
If Neymar were to remain with PSG and leave once his current deal concludes, opportunities will be present provided Neymar is able to stay healthy and put up convincing results on the pitch. At that point, if Neymar has convincing results and no club in Europe or in Neymar's native Brazil is interested in him, it would be no surprise if an MLS club tried to take the chance of signing him.
Is the MLS a good place to finish a long and illustrious career?
For some players, it definitely is. For some, absolutely not. And for others, it's a maybe. It depends on where a player is in their respective career. If, despite the age, the player obviously has a lot left in the tank, he'll definitely be able to close out his career on the best terms.
There will be times a move to the MLS is questionable, but at the end of the day, surprising results are bound to happen. In other words, anything can happen.