After Toronto FC forward Sebastian Giovinco revealed that he snubbed Barcelona in favour of joining the Canadian side it raised the question; how attractive a proposition is MLS to soccer’s major stars? Giovinco recently stated that he rejected the advances of European heavyweights Barcelona before joining Toronto in 2015.
When the Italian made the switch from Juventus to Toronto it seemed like a slightly odd career move. He was playing for arguably Italy’s biggest side, Juventus, and was attracting a lot of interest from some of the major clubs in Europe. So what was it that made Giovinco choose to join MLS rather than staying in Europe or opting to take the major money move to China or the Middle East?
The growing profile of MLS
The MLS for some time now has been a work in progress. There has been a conscious effort by all involved to give the sport the league the platform it needs to be not only a national success, but a global success. From forums discussing the league, to bookmakers promoting betting on it – the rise of the MLS has been incredible.
The players, the coverage, the facilities and the fan base have all been taken on to a new level. This work in progress is now something that is viewed and respected around the world as a viable league, one in which there is a real interest and some real quality. This is evident by the players that have recently joined the league.
In the outset MLS was often viewed by some in Europe as a retirement home for former greats who were looking to wind down their careers. However now, players in their prime such as Romain Allessandrini and even Giovanni Dos Santos are plying their trade in MLS. This is evidence of the leagues growing quality and worldwide appeal.
There’s no doubt that some MLS clubs benefit from their location when it comes to attracting players. There’s no coincidence that L.A Galaxy have managed to bring in some of the most high profile MLS singings over the last 10 years; after all, Los Angeles is often regarded as one of the top cities in the world to live.
Another plus for MLS is the fact that most States in the US have a lot of culture. This can often make players more comfortable when it comes to relocating to a different place as they’ll be able to find a community similar to what they’re used to.
Is there anything that stops MLS bringing in more quality players?
As previously mentioned, MLS is currently in a good place. The acquisitions made in this transfer window have been a signal of intent and will hopefully set a president for future windows.
The area where MLS are struggling to compete with the European and Chinese clubs is the financial side. Yes many of the MLS’s big names are on very lucrative contracts, but due to the designated player rule clubs can only pay a certain number of players an amount that exceeds the cap.
Although the designated player rule and wage cap is often a good thing; it does somewhat limit clubs from bringing in all of the players that they want to.