The MLS. A growing league in just about every sense, from quality of Football to expansion teams, tv coverage to household names. It’s no lie that once players from the worlds top leagues are no longer able to keep up with the pace of the game, they want to keep their footballing career going and turn their attentions to the MLS. Former England and Liverpool Captain Steven Gerrard joins the likes of Frank Lampard, Andrea Pirlo, Robbie Keane and David Villa this offseason and with more and more teams getting some world class names in their designated player spot, the Philadelphia Union simply aren’t. They don’t have the intimidating presence of a world class midfielder, nor the finesse of a top striker. But, with the game changing so fast,more and more top players are becoming available. Here are 5 players the Union could/should target when the transfer window opens.
5: Matthew Upson-
Former West Ham star Matthew Upson has somewhat declined in recent years. Having enjoyed a lengthy spout in the Premier League, he only played five top flight games this season, amounting 373 minutes of play whilst battling injury. The Union need a leader at the back. Someone with Premier League experience who will keep the back four in check and in shape. Upson has a wealth of that and is a former club captain. He may not be the biggest or fastest CB available, but if the Union are looking for depth at the back and someone who knows the game well enough to help tutor the younger players whilst also leaving some salary cap room and potentially opening up some trade options, Upson would be a great addition.
4: Joey Barton-
Probably the most controversial player on the list, Barton seems to strike up bad press wherever he goes. But again has plenty of top flight experience an after recently saying English Football is “rotten from top to bottom” in an interview with BBC Sport, Barton may well fancy a move elsewhere. Following a career at Manchester City, Newcastle and QPR, Barton has encountered just about every kind of situationWhat makes Barton stand out is his tenacity. He is absolutely ferocious and not afraid to make a tough challenge. He’s intimidating and excels in short passes. Partner that with the speedy Pfeffer, the creative Maidana or a similarly defensive Edu for the tough fixtures and you may just be onto a winner.
3: Carles Puyol-
The seasoned La Liga star drew the curtains on a glittering career in both league football and domestic cups, seeing him win six La Liga titles and three Champions League’s. The former Spanish international has been taking English classes recently and despite being more seasoned than every other player in this list, Puyol is widely regarded as one of the best CB’s of a generation. The experience and sheer dominance in the back line this man would bring should a shock move come off would be unparalleled. He has already been linked with NYCFC, but since their signing of Pirlo, they me be out of market. The Union however…
2: John Guidetti-
The youngest player on our list is former Celtic striker John Guidetti. Having been linked with clubs in Italy and the Netherlands this transfer may seem unlikely but it’s definitely worth going for. After being on Manchester City’s books for some time now, the team have decided to part ways with the Sweed. If somehow this move were to come off, the Union would have another striker and another talented one at that. Sapong as of right now is the only man available who isn’t injured..with Nando and Casey still out with injury, the team need depth and they need it fast. Guidetti is extremely talented and has racked up 10 goals in 18 appearances for his country’s U21 side. If the Philadelphia Union want to build for the future whilst bringing in a big name, this or a player of similar stature wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
Probably the option that needs no explanation, Ronaldinho is one of the most iconic footballing faces of the past 15 years or so. His staggering skill, confidence, finesse and overall talent has not been lost over the years. From AC Milan to Barcelona, there aren’t many places that the 35 year old hasn’t conquered..but the USA is one of them. It would be the perfect time for him to join the MLS and having already seen a cheeky selfie with the Philadelphia Union boys, he has definitely had at least a conversation or two..the only issue is, a certain Brazilian team are close to sealing a deal..if the Union are going to act, they better do it fast. But there isn’t much that needs to be said about this man. It will be very rare to see a player of his natural ability captivate the hearts of a country the way he has, but seeing him play against Kaka one last time? That, is the stuff of dreams.